Muscle cramps are very common and quite painful. They usually happen suddenly and can involve any muscle, but most often the legs and frequently in the middle of the night. Gently stretching the affected muscle usually relieves the cramp. The following list gives the most common causes and some tips for prevention:
1)Dehydration, usually from sweating in a warm environment, or through diarrhea and/or vomiting. Usually this fluid and electrolyte (sodium, potassium, magnesium and calcium) loss from dehydration is the most common cause of cramps. Drink plenty of electrolyte rich fluids, such as those found in sports drinks, to stay ahead of dehydration, and treat diarrhea and vomiting with the appropriate medication, replacing lost fluids as indicated. Avoid caffeine and alcohol, as these act as diuretics, causing increased urination.
2)Overuse of muscles. De-conditioned muscles tend to cramp more easily than those that are trained. Before any significant exercise, warm up and stretch properly.
3)Various medications. The most common offender is diuretics, because they cause fluid and electrolyte loss as discussed above. Physician monitoring is critically important with these medications.
4)Medical conditions including restless leg syndrome, vascular disease, anemia, diabetes, kidney disease, thyroid disease, multiple sclerosis and spinal cord injury, to name a few. Usually blood work is often ordered to help in the diagnosis, and occasionally nerve and muscle studies are requested by the physician. Treatment is based on the diagnosed condition…Richard R Samuel,MD Family Practice and Urgent Care Hayden, ID USA