cramps, Cramp (Muscle spasms, Leg cramp or spasm) are usually strong tensions of the muscles, which often occur without the will of the human being. Accompanying pain is just as common. Cramps can be felt locally but also all over the body. Cramps can also occur in the internal organs, for example stomach cramps in chronic intestinal inflammation.
Cramps can come in different forms. Frequent are rhythmic jerks that act quickly and successively. These are often accompanied by long-lasting pain in the muscles.
Cramps can come in different forms. Frequent are rhythmic jerks that act quickly and successively. These are often accompanied by long-lasting pain in the muscles. Typical examples of these cramps are cramps while exercising or leg cramps while sleeping.
There are also spasms of the smooth muscles, which can mostly occur in the organs. Examples are spasms of the urinary or gall bladder.
In summary, cramps occur particularly clearly with calf cramps. Nevertheless, spasms in renal colic, spasms of the bronchi and blood vessels should also be mentioned. The so-called seizures lead to convulsive jerks of the whole body.
The most common causes of muscle cramps are electrolyte disorders. Above all, the lack of magnesium and sodium chloride very often trigger cramps. A deficiency in these electrolytes, in turn, is often due to profuse sweating (e.g. during sport and physical work), in which these substances are excreted from the body through sweat.
The cause could also be due to a lack of fluids, as water often makes important electrolytes, such as salts and other minerals, available to the body. This effect of the cramps that occur when you are dehydrated is often noticeable after consuming too much alcohol, in which the body loses a lot of fluid through urine and breathing. However, muscle spasms can occur as part of a polyneuropathy.
Long-term cramps are not uncommon as a result of illness. Important diseases worth mentioning here are tetanus, facial cramp (fascial cramp) and torticollis.
Pathological, organic-related cramps occur, among other things, in kidney stones, pancreatitis, ectopic pregnancy, appendicitis and Crohn's disease.
The causes of cramps that affect the whole body are mostly the well-known cramp symptoms of epilepsy, meningitis (meningitis), fever, but also alcohol and drug withdrawal. In bronchial asthma, too, spasms in the form of bronchospasm can occur.
Cramps are mostly painful, but are considered harmless. Serious complications can arise if the symptoms persist or keep recurring. Then there may be a serious underlying condition that requires independent treatment. Muscle and calf cramps can lead to dangerous complications if they occur, for example, while swimming or driving.
In addition to the risk of an accident, there is also the risk of further discomfort with cramps. This sometimes leads to severe pain and restricted mobility, and stomach cramps can cause digestive disorders and similar side effects. When treating cramps, medication and home remedies can equally lead to a temporary intensification of the symptoms.
These generally last until the treatment is adjusted to the causal disease and the patient's constitution. Cramps, which are due to a lack of nutrients, can lead to circulatory problems and various other complications. Cramps that occur after eating or having a bowel movement also indicate a deeper problem.
The possible complications range from the formation of irritable bowel syndrome to serious intestinal diseases, which often occur in conjunction with the cramps. A quick diagnosis by a doctor is therefore advisable in any case.
Cramps in the outer limbs are rather harmless in nature. Cramps that affect the internal organs are more critical. In general, it can be said that the stomach can withstand more cramps than the lungs or the heart. Cramps in the kidneys can lead to chronic symptoms of intoxication in the long term. Therefore, less painful cramps should also be examined by a doctor if they occur more frequently over several consecutive days. However, there is no urgency here and a prompt doctor's appointment is sufficient.
If chest cramps occur, a visit to the doctor must not be delayed. The heart, lungs and liver are essential suppliers of oxygen. Kidney cramps, which usually increase over several days, must be treated quickly by a doctor in order to avoid chronic symptoms of intoxication.
In the case of extremely painful cramps, the doctor must be consulted immediately. This mainly affects liver and kidney cramps, pain in the heart region and also the appendix, which can radiate its inflammatory pain to the entire lower abdominal area. If there is pain in the stomach, check whether the cramps are digestive gastric discomfort or appendix irritation or inflammation. If the abdominal wall feels harder on one side than on the other, a doctor must also be consulted immediately, as appendicitis is life-threatening.
Treatment for cramps depends on the type of cramp that is occurring. It is important to know where the cramps occur. If a doctor is consulted with these complaints, the exact characteristics of the cramp and pain should be described. The course and intensity in particular play an elementary role in finding the cause.
Usually the doctor will then initiate a general examination of the body. If the muscles have severe spasms, blood can be drawn to determine the electrolyte levels.
If the cramps occur more in the organic area, the abdomen is palpated and, if necessary, ultrasound examinations are carried out. If further abnormalities arise, the examination can also be continued using computed tomography (CT), electroencephalography (EEG), cerebrospinal fluid puncture (CSF puncture) or an X-ray examination of the abdomen.
Once the ultimate cause of the cramps is clear, treatment should be carried out. Muscle cramps (e.g. calf cramps) can be treated and prevented by stretching exercises and taking electrolytes such as magnesium.
Cramps that are associated with organic diseases can usually only be cured by an operation on the pathological cause (e.g. kidney stones or appendicitis). Shock wave therapy can also be used for kidney stones.
Likewise, convulsions that are caused by other diseases should first be treated with treatment for these diseases. For example, epilepsy or pancreatitis would be here.
Most people experience cramps for a short time and usually go away on their own without the need for special treatment. They often lead to severe pain and can significantly limit the everyday life of the person affected. It is no longer possible to easily carry out physical work or to play sports. Regular cramps greatly reduce the quality of life.
In most cases, a treatment can be carried out that also leads to success. What the treatment looks like depends heavily on the cause of the cramps themselves. If the cramps occur in muscles or joints, they can be treated with physiotherapy, massages or with the help of creams and ointments. The cramps may also be caused by an incorrect sitting posture or by incorrectly performing a sporting exercise.
If the cramps develop in the stomach, an infection or inflammation in the stomach is usually responsible for them. Treatment with antibiotics takes place here. Usually this quickly leads to success. In this case, the patient should eat healthily and drink plenty of fluids. If the cramps are severe and persist for a long time, an emergency doctor should be called. This can give the patient antispasmodic agents and thus stop the cramps for a short time.
Muscle cramps can be prevented by eating a healthy diet and drinking enough fluids, as enough electrolytes are absorbed by the body. In addition, stretching exercises and a healthy amount of sport help to keep the muscles supple. Furthermore, alcohol consumption should be reduced.
other home remedies ↵ for cramps
Cramps occur in a variety of situations, but mostly during exercise. If cramps become noticeable during exercise, those affected should stand still and stretch their lower legs. It is also advisable to massage the calf gently and loosen the foot. Then check whether the shoes fit comfortably or whether the sportswear is too tight. It is advisable to take a few steps and drink some fluids. In cold weather, those affected should wear thick stockings or warm pants.
As soon as cramps occur at night, those affected should lie down and pull the tip of the foot up towards the knee. The heel has to be moved by the body. Some people find it helpful to massage the calf gently. Other people, on the other hand, need to step on and take a few steps before the cramp subsides. Then warmth is recommended. In general, comfortable shoes are advisable to counteract cramps. Regular exercise and targeted stretching exercises are also useful. It is advisable to avoid a sudden change from warm to cold. Especially in summer people shouldn't jump into the cold water overheated.
A balanced diet is also worth mentioning in order to avoid deficiency symptoms. Foods rich in magnesium include fruits, green vegetables, legumes and whole grains. Bananas, oatmeal, and spinach are great for preventing cramps.