Cramps are musculoskeletal disorders that manifest as involuntary, sustained, temporary and more or less painful muscular contractions , usually benign. They can occur at rest, including during sleep, or during a fairly intense physical effort, whether during warm-up, during exercise, or even during the recovery phase.
Mechanisms and symptoms of cramp
The origin of cramps is relatively complex and often comes from several factors combined, whether they are vascular (blood circulation disorder and insufficient muscular vascularization for a short time) or metabolic (production of excess lactic acid), dehydration, Cramping usually begins suddenly and brutally, without any prior sign to anticipate it. It results in the involuntary and uncontrollable painful contraction of a muscle or a bundle of muscles resulting in a temporary functional disability of the affected muscle group. It is short-lived (from a few seconds to several minutes). In case of prolonged contraction, we speak of tetany. The muscles most often affected by cramps are those of the lower limbs, and in particular of the calf.
Causes and typologies of cramps
There are several types of cramps, which vary according to their causes. They can be linked to a sports effort, of metabolic origin or to result from different pathologies. The Sports origin cramps are usually linked to an intense effort, and occur especially if the physical preparation and muscle warming have been neglected. They may also experience excessive sweating or excessively intense muscular effort involving prolonged and sustained contraction.
The metabolic origin cramps declare most often during dehydration phenomena of dyskaliémie (potassium deficiency) or insufficient in vitamins B1, B5 and B6. There are other potential causes such as a lack of blood circulation in the muscle (for example, cold, which decreases vascularization).
Finally, cramps can be linked to other conditions that may cause them, such as circulatory disorders in the lower limbs (intermittent claudication), diabetes, multiple sclerosis, polio or Parkinson’s disease .
Risk factors for cramps
Insufficient hydration, poor preparation for exertion, excessive stress, cold weather or the abuse of coffee, alcohol and tobacco are, among others, potential risk factors. Cramps are likely to appear more frequently in some people: pregnant women , athletes or the elderly are thus more concerned than the average.
Treatment and prevention of cramps
Except cases where pathology is responsible for cramps, there is no miracle cure for stopping cramps, which disappear on their own fast enough. The temporary physical rest , stopping the effort, and muscle stretching in opposite direction to the involuntary contraction , possibly combined with a massage of the muscle , are the best ways to alleviate these unwanted contractions. Finally, it is possible to prevent the risk of cramp thanks to a physical warming adapted to the effort, a regular hydration before and during the effort, and a food rich in salt, magnesium, potassium and vitamin B6 .
Complementary approaches to cramps
Take 3 granules in 9 CH, three times a day, Magnesia phosphorica and Cuprum metallicum (which is also suitable for fighting stomach cramps).
- It is also possible to take, at the same dosage, Ruta graveolens.
- If cramps are particularly painful, take Arnica montana.
- In case of night cramps, take Aesculus compound at the onset of it.
- To fight against the cramps of the fingers, to opt for Argentum nitricum and Magnesia phosphorica in 7 CH.
Some essential oils are traditionally used to fight cramps, especially the essential oils of:
- Oregano vulgaris,
- Noble laurel,
- Fine lavender ( Lavandula angustifolia )
- Thyme vulgar thyme.
Other natural remedies
Other natural remedies are reputed to work against cramps.
- The balm of the tiger,
- trace elements and in particular magnesium combined with vitamin B6 and potassium,
- massages with vegetable oils,
- hot baths.