02 May 2012

Leg Cramps


For a good number, their job is something they do not enjoy, something they want to get away from. At the beginning of the work-week they speak of  a “Blue Monday,” and at the end, they sigh, “Thank God, it’s Friday.”
* * *
 The Christian teaching  declares  that  jobs should  be viewed not as a burden or solely a source of livelihood, but as a  way of serving one's fellowmen. This  outlook  may appear obvious in the work  of  physicians, teachers, or social workers, but it should be shared by others  as well – whether they be sales clerks, truck  drivers, janitors, or garbage collectors.
LEG cramps are sudden, painful, involuntary contractions of muscles in your leg. In most cases, leg cramps involve your calf muscles, but muscles in your feet or thighs may cramp as well.

Most of the time, true leg cramps occur for no known reason, and they're harmless. However, in rare situations, leg cramps can be associated with an underlying disorder — such as peripheral artery disease or diabetes.
The risk of having night leg cramps increases with age. Pregnant women also have a higher likelihood of experiencing night leg cramps.
Cause of the cramp:
Doctors do know that those who are more muscular seem to have more leg cramps. And also by pointing your toes a certain way while swimming can cause cramps.
Low levels of certain minerals known as electrolytes – magnesium, potassium, calcium, and sodium – have long been linked to leg cramps. Certain drugs, such as diuretics (water pills) for high blood pressure, have also been cited as a cause of leg cramps. Dialysis patients, who have their blood filtered by a machine because of kidney failure, often complain of leg cramps. Sometimes, pregnant women do experienced leg cramps.
Overuse of a muscle, dehydration, muscle strain or simply holding a position for a prolonged period of time may result in a muscle cramp. Athletes who become fatigued and dehydrated while participating in warm-weather sports frequently develop muscle cramps. In many cases, however, the exact cause of a muscle cramp isn't identified.
Writer's cramp affects the thumb and first two fingers of your writing hand and results from using the same muscles for long periods. At home, you can develop muscle cramps in your hand or arm after spending long hours gripping a paintbrush or using a garden tool. A common type of muscle cramp — nocturnal cramps — occurs in your calf muscles or toes during sleep.
Muscle cramps in your legs can also result from:
•Inadequate blood supply. Narrowing of the arteries that deliver blood to your legs (arteriosclerosis of the extremities) can produce cramp-like pain in your legs and feet while you're exercising. These cramps go away soon after you stop exercising and stand still.
•Nerve compression. Compression of nerves in your spine (lumbar stenosis) also can produce cramp-like pain in your legs. The pain usually worsens the longer you walk. Walking in a slightly flexed position — such as you would employ when pushing a shopping cart ahead of you — may improve your symptoms.
•Mineral depletion. Too little potassium, calcium or magnesium in your diet can contribute to leg cramps. Some diuretic medications prescribed for high blood pressure cause loss of potassium.
Muscle cramps are also part of certain conditions such as nerve, kidney, thyroid or hormone disorders, diabetes, hypoglycemia and anemia.
For most people,  leg cramps are merely an annoyance — something that jerks you awake on an infrequent basis. But in some cases, you may need to see a doctor.
Seek immediate medical care if you:
• Experience severe and persistent cramping.
• Have  leg cramps after being exposed to a toxin, such as lead.
• Have such interrupted sleep that you have trouble functioning during the day.
• Are also experiencing muscle weakness and atrophy.
Self-care
Activities that might help prevent  leg cramps include:
• Drinking plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration.
• Wearing shoes that have proper support.
• Stretching your leg muscles, or riding a stationary bicycle, for a few minutes before you go to bed.
• Untucking the bed covers at the foot of your bed.
 Help to relieve leg cramps include:
• Stretch and massage. Stretch the cramped muscle and gently rub it to help it relax. For a calf cramp, put your weight on your cramped leg and bend your knee slightly. If you're unable to stand, try pulling the top of your foot on the affected side toward your head while your leg is in a straightened position. This will also help ease a back thigh (hamstring) cramp. For a front thigh (quadriceps) cramp, use a chair to steady yourself and try pulling your foot on the affected side up toward your buttock.
• Apply cold or heat. Use a cold pack to relax tense muscles. Use a warm towel or heating pad later if you have pain or tenderness, or take a hot bath.
By DR. GARY S. SY
mb.com.ph

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