Arthritis, joint, bone & muscle

Muscle cramps

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Cramps can affect any muscle in the body, but are most commonly experienced in the calves and feet.

Symptoms

  • A sudden, involuntary, painful spasm (or tightening) of a muscle.
  • Muscle twitching.
  • Cramps generally resolve by themselves after a few moments.
  • In some cases, cramps may be indicative of underlying disease. Consult your doctor if you experience cramps frequently, if your symptoms are severe, or if the cramps take longer than a few minutes to disappear.

Causes

Although the reason that cramps occur is not fully understood, a number of risk factors have been identified. These include:

  • Imbalance of the minerals (electrolytes) involved in muscle contraction and relaxation, including magnesium, potassium, calcium and sodium. This may occur due to dietary inadequacy, but may also be a consequence of the fluid losses that occur during vomiting, diarrhoea, dehydration and excessive sweating. 
  • Being in poor physical health.
  • Having tight or inflexible muscles, or poor muscle tone.
  • Muscle injury or fatigue.
  • Wearing high-heeled shoes for long periods of time.

Natural therapies

  • Magnesium helps all the muscles of the body to function optimally  and to contract in a normal, healthy way. It is also important for exercise performance . Taking a magnesium supplement* may help prevent muscular cramps and spasms and aid in the management of leg cramps that occur during the night.
*Magnesium may only be of assistance when dietary intake is inadequate

Diet and lifestyle

  • During a cramp, lengthen the muscle by gently stretching it. Follow this by rubbing or massaging the affected muscle, but again, be gentle. Apply an ice pack if necessary.
  • Stretching before and after exercise is important. Yoga classes are a great way to improve your flexibility and stretch out your muscles, and regular massage can aid muscle relaxation.
  • Make sure you warm up and cool down before you exercise.
  • Maintain adequate fluid intake. Aim for at least two litres of water every day, with additional water before, during and after exercise sessions.
  • If you’re prone to excessive perspiration, or if you train for extended periods or in hot temperatures, it may be appropriate to take an electrolyte replacement drink to rehydrate the body and quickly replace minerals lost in the sweat.
  • Eat a well-balanced diet that contains large quantities and a wide variety of fruit and vegetables.
  • Avoid wearing high heels or shoes that don’t fit comfortably.

Important notes

  • Seek medical advice if you experience frequent, severe, or extended cramping, or if you are concerned that your prescribed medicine may be causing or contributing to your cramps. You may need to switch to a different medication.
  • If you experience cramping pain in the chest that radiates to the shoulder, arm or neck, it’s possible you are having a heart attack. Call for an ambulance immediately, as it’s better to be safe than sorry.

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Hello Christine,
Blackmores no longer make a devils claw product, however you may find this in another brand at your health shop. Nutrients like magnesium, glucosamine, chondroitin, MSM , Fish oils and Green lipped muscle oil may help with inflammation and pain. Topical herbal comfrey has been very effective also. Epson salt baths and yoga therapy may relieve muscle aches and may help with your sciatica. Acupuncture may also be effective. Looking at an anti-inflammatory diet with oily fish, berries, fresh fruit and veggies, especially celery, adequate water and green tea may also be helpful. If you would like some more personalised advice please contact the Blackmores Naturopathic Advisory service on 1800-803-760, or email us at advice@blackmores.com.au so that we can assist you.
Kind regards, Gina (Blackmores naturopath)

Anonymous
Anonymous 12 Dec 2012
Hi, just reading your article on natural therapies to relieve muscle pain ,stiffness etc.My GP wants to put me on epilum however this does not sit easy with me . I work as a nursing assistant on night shift and have learnt a lot over the years with med's such as these . Looking for some type of natural pain relief which doesnt require blood tests etc to check levels. I am 59 yrs of age and suffer arthritus stiffness to the neck and legs and now having trouble with the sciatic nerve which is waking me from my sleep . Reading your article was curious about the devil's claw this is one i have not heard of before. Does this come in tablet form? Any suggestions at all would be most welcome. i thank you for your time ........ Kind Regards Christina Faux
Anonymous
Anonymous 11 Dec 2012
Hi Alan,
I’m sorry to hear about your aching calves – and that the magnesium tablets are not longer having any benefit for you.

Aching & cramping calves can be due to a number of factors - including imbalances of minerals involved in muscle contraction & relaxation – which includes magnesium, but also potassium, calcium and sodium. These symptoms may also be due to dehydration – so ensure that you are drinking plenty of water (at least 2L each day).

When you are experiencing aching calves you may benefit from stretching or massaging the affected area.

If you would like some more personalised advice please contact the Blackmores Naturopathic Advisory service on 1800-803-760, or email us at advice@blackmores.com.au so that we can assist you.
Kind regards, Charmaine (Blackmores naturopath)
Charmaine
Charmaine 07 Dec 2012
I suffer from aching calf muscles at night. This is unchanged by exercise. I got good relief after 6weeks of taking Magnesium tablets but the benefit lessened after a few months and now they have no effect at all.
Anonymous
Anonymous 07 Dec 2012