Self-Management and Prevention of Muscle Cramp

Muscle cramp can occur to anybody. However, certain people are more prone to develop muscle cramp. These include elderly persons (because of low muscle mass the remaining muscles may be over stressed easily), pregnant women, individuals with certain medical conditions (such as diabetes, nerve disease, thyroid disease, liver disease etc.) and people prone to dehydration (such as athletes and people engaged in strenuous work in hot and humid conditions).

Management of muscle cramp is not difficult. Stay well hydrated. Do some stretching exercises. If you have recurrent muscle cramp that disturb your sleep, consult your doctor and take medications.

Self-management and home remedies for muscle cramp:

These include,

  • Apply heat or cold over the affected muscle(s). Apply warm towel or heating pad (put warm water in the rubber pad/bag that are available for such purpose) over the affected muscle. Taking warm bath or steam bath may also help. If your muscles pain much apply massage with ice, it may give pain relief.
  • Stretch and massage: stretch the affected muscles and gently massage/rub the area to make the muscle relax. If you have muscle cramp in calf muscles, stand up, put your weight on the affected leg, and bend you knee slightly. If you are unable to stand up due to pain, sit in bed or floor with extended legs. While keeping leg extended, try to pull your foot towards your head as much as your pain allow. Do it few times.

How to prevent muscle cramp?

The following measures may help prevent muscle cramp,

  • Stay well hydrated: avoid dehydration. Mild dehydration may have no symptoms and may occur frequently. Avoid mild dehydration by drinking regularly, especially if you do strenuous work. Drink fluid at regular interval. If you feel you may have mild dehydration, try oral rehydration salt. Drinking at regular interval is very important to prevent dehydration, especially during summer.
  • Stretch your muscles before and after using muscles for extended period. If you tend to get muscle cramp at night, try doing mild exercise before going to bed, such as riding stationary bicycle for few minutes or doing some stretching exercise before bed may be helpful in preventing nighttime muscle cramp.


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