Constant cramps in the arms and legs – a dangerous symptom or innocuous overstrain
- 1 Definition
- 2 Varieties
- 3 Common causes
- 4 Hand cramps
- 5 Leg cramps
- 6 Diagnosis and treatment
- 7 Prevention
The cause of muscle spasm can be anything from physical overstrain to the presence of a malignant tumor. If involuntary muscular contractions recur frequently, consult a doctor. Single spasms can be removed independently at home, recurring require examination and appropriate treatment.
Spasm is an involuntary contraction of striated or smooth muscle fibers, accompanied by pain. The work of skeletal muscles is regulated by the central nervous system by direct and reverse impulses. If one of the chain links fails, uncontrolled spasms are observed.
Any muscles can contract pathologically, but most often patients complain of limb lesions. The pain of cramping occurs due to pinching of the nerve fibers with a sharp increase in muscle tone. It can be both short-term and persistent, up to long-term disability.
Spasms of skeletal muscles are divided into tonic and clonic, it is also possible a mixed version. The first type is a continuous tension of muscle fibers, in which the spastic muscle changes shape and is fixed in this form for some time. Intense pain arises, which either disappears after relaxation or persists (sometimes for quite a long time).
A spasm of this kind is caused by over-stimulation of the subcortical areas of the brain. A characteristic feature of tonic muscle cramps is the occurrence at night, during rest periods.
Clonic contractions manifest as twitching, which is explained by alternate contraction and relaxation of muscles. The causes of their causes are varied, but they all lead to the excitation of the cerebral cortex. With the defeat of a separate part of the muscles there is a tremor, in the case of a generalized seizure, the whole body is covered. The latter is observed during a classic epileptic seizure.
Muscle tone is affected by various factors. Spasms of the limbs or the whole body arise for the following most common reasons:
- Epilepsy and other neurological disorders, especially in the elderly.
- Infectious diseases affecting the nervous system (tetanus, for example).
- Cysts and brain tumors.
- Intoxication – with mushrooms, salts of heavy metals, medicines.
- Neurotic states like psychosis.
- The lack of some trace elements in violation of water and electrolyte balance.
- High temperature in children under 6 years old.
The cause of the violation can also be physiological factors. Twitching with hands after hard work with those who work physically or spend a lot of time at the keyboard. Spasms also occur after intense physical training (strength).
Hypothermia is another possible cause of muscle spasm. Tonic contractions of muscle fibers can affect both internal organs (in this case, their work is impaired) and skeletal muscles. In cramps in the legs and hands, the causes may be the same.
A common occurrence among those who work physically. Not less often complain of spasmodic attacks employees of “mental” labor – musicians, managers and other persons who spend a lot of time at the computer. In the first case, spasms are caused by overstressed muscles, occurring more often at night. Patients complain of nocturnal awakenings due to pain in their hands. In the second – pain can occur at any time of the day.
Spasms of the upper limbs can be triggered by hypothermia, tight sleeves of clothing. These factors slow down blood flow, muscle fibers lack oxygen and nutrients, and therefore spastic decrease. Muscle hypertonia can be observed after intense physical training. Often the cause is monotonous movements in the process of needlework and other activities associated with fine motor skills of hands.
All situations develop due to overstretching the muscles of the hands. What can be done? If you work less does not work, you should pay attention to the content of vitamins with trace elements in food and water consumption. Cramps causes a lack of calcium and magnesium with iron. Increases the risk of convulsive disorder diuretic drugs. That is, you need to eat properly, including in the diet iron-containing foods, fruits, vegetables.
Remove a sudden spasm will help a few simple movements. If the brush is folded, you need to shake it vigorously several times and squeeze your fingers into a fist. Then move them, imitating typing on the keyboard. A good effect gives a massage with simultaneous forced bending of the little finger. You can also make a relaxing hot bath.
If convulsions are repeated regularly, consultation with a neurologist is necessary. Spasms and numbness of the left hand deserve special attention – they are often a precursor of myocardial infarction.
Sharp painful contraction of the calf, thigh muscles, or arch of the foot is familiar to almost everyone. For some time, such an attack limits mobility, and pain may persist after it. The main causes of sudden cramps in the lower limbs:
- Intensive physical activity during the day – a long walking tour, training, and other active movements. As a result, cramps may occur at night.
- Professional activities related to the static tension of the muscles – the work “on their feet” (sellers, teachers).
- Sharp overcooling when bathing in the heat.
- Iron deficiency and hormonal features during pregnancy are often manifested by night cramps.
- The foot reduces in the presence of flat feet.
- Dehydration with impaired water and electrolyte balance, especially as a result of taking certain medications (diuretics, for example) is accompanied by convulsions.
- Atherosclerosis, varicose veins, thrombophlebitis, beginning obliterating endoarteritis or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.
- Emotional stress.
What to do if your leg is cramped? It is recommended to sit down and pull on your toes as an emergency aid in case of spasm in the calves or muscles of the foot. In the case of quadriceps cramps, you need to bend the affected leg at the knee while standing, bringing the heel as close as possible to the buttock. Self-massage, a blow to the spastic area, a needle prick also help to relax the muscle fibers.
Diagnosis and treatment
The listed first aid measures are intended solely to relieve painful convulsions, however its causes may require special treatment. Often, spasms are a symptom of serious diseases, so their regular nature requires a full examination.
Diagnosis includes physical examination, laboratory and instrumental methods of research. According to their results, appropriate treatment is prescribed.
Knowing the causes of pathological contractions, you can get rid of them with the help of various groups of drugs. According to the testimony may be appointed:
- Benzodiazepines (Phenazepam), relieving nervous excitement, muscle spasms, which have a sedative effect.
- Neuroleptics – Aminazin – help to cope with insomnia, psychosis, moderately lower blood pressure.
- Digoxin-type cardiac glycosides are indicated for heart failure, worsening of blood circulation.
- Drugs of iron and magnesium with a deficiency of these trace elements.
- Fibrinolytics are used in the case of convulsive syndrome caused by ischemic stroke to destroy a blood clot.
In early childhood (up to 6 years), specific febrile seizures may occur, caused by fever. Treatment in this case comes down to taking antipyretic drugs and NSAIDs.
Read also … What is the cause of cramps in children: classification, diagnostic measures, methods of treatment
If cramps in the legs and hands occur due to overwork, heavy or monotonous work, you should rest as much as possible. You need to sleep for at least 6 hours, take a warm shower or a relaxing bath before going to bed. Lifting gravity is desirable in several stages, in small parts. It’s time to take regular breaks at least 1 time per hour, gymnastics will be useful for relieving tension in the hands and fingers.
Being engaged in sports, especially power types, it is necessary to dose out reasonably load, and also to carry out warm-up for a warming up.
Diet is crucial in the deficiency of iron with magnesium and calcium. The lack of these trace elements is determined during the blood test. Along with the intake of special preparations, it is recommended to adjust the diet. Iron deficiency in anemia will help replenish red meat, liver, buckwheat, pomegranates and apples.
Magnesium is abundant in fresh vegetables, legumes, nuts, and calcium is found in dairy products. It is important to observe the drinking regime, consuming enough liquid. But at the same time it is better not to drink carbonated and tonic drinks.
If convulsive syndrome occurs due to the presence of tumors, abnormalities or vascular diseases, surgery is necessary. During the operation, neoplasms, blood clots, vein sections (for varicose veins) are removed. In case of obliterating endoarteritis, a shunting is performed, restoring the vascular permeability.
Alternative medicine offers many ways to relieve and treat muscle cramps. First of all, it is recommended to carry out the warming procedures: compresses, baths with salt, put mustard plaster, or pepper patch.
Inside you can take an infusion of lime blossom, adonis, a decoction of viburnum bark. The latter are also rubbed with spasm of muscle areas. Therapy with folk remedies has contraindications and can be used only with the approval of the doctor.
The appearance of muscle convulsions can in most cases be prevented if any diseases are detected and treated in a timely manner. Of great importance are compliance with the regime of work and rest, proper nutrition and distribution of physical activity.
It should also give up smoking, alcohol and tonic drinks. Pregnant women need to regularly determine the content of trace elements in the blood to avoid their deficiency.