Muscle cramps are among the many minor little annoyances or problems that a person has to deal with on a daily basis. While not debilitating or entirely disruptive, they can sometimes come at critical moments, such as in the middle of intense physical activity. There are multiple ways to alleviate the problem, with almost all of them being relatively simple tasks that can be done without the need of a doctor or anyone else.
There are very few unpleasant physical sensations that can occur with such unpredictability as cramps. This painful sensation is caused by several internal body conditions and external factors. Possible causes include overexertion of the muscle in question, prolonged exposure to cold temperatures, side effects of muscle spasms, and certain illnesses. Cramps usually come suddenly without warning or other symptoms.
The most common treatment for cramps would be stretching the afflicted muscle, though soft massage has also been known to help. Since some cramps are caused by poor circulation, heat is often applied. The heat has the effect of improving circulation in the given area, which can help alleviate the problem in most cases. Heat can also help alleviate the problem if it was caused by prolonged exposure to lower temperatures, but this is not always the case. A lack of oxygenation is also listed among the possible causes, though it is generally accepted that this is among the rarer ones. Certain minerals, or the absence thereof, have been tied to the problem as well, with potassium being the most notable. Potassium has been known to help prevent cramps, so nutritionists often advise foods such as bananas, prunes, and potatoes to people who regularly have this sort of problem. According to the findings, potassium aids in preventing all forms of cramps.
There are several types of cramps, one of them affecting smooth muscles in the internal systems of the body. Among the potential areas of this are the uterus, the heart, and the intestine. Several other internal organs may experience sensations of this sort. This type is sometimes considered to be closely related to menstrual cramps, but the two are not necessarily caused by the same factors despite the similar physical sensations caused. This variety occurs in muscles that the person does not have direct control over. Predominantly, this occurs to internal organs, but involuntary muscle tissue may also be affected, depending on the circumstances.
Perhaps the most common form would be the nocturnal leg cramps. These occur with random frequency in people and are often best alleviated by stretching the muscle in question until the pain subsides. The duration can vary, with some lasting a few minutes while others only register in the brain for a few seconds before disappearing, though the muscles tend to be sore for some time afterward. The cause of this has yet to be determined, though some have suggested that a lack of certain minerals, prolonged sitting, and dehydration be potential causes.
Due to the apparently random nature of the problem, cramps can often be used as a plot device in a murder-mystery story or a convenient excuse to get out of doing something. It is worth noting that using it as an excuse is often ill-advised because as random as the nature of the problem can be, the duration is about as fickle. Most of the time, attacks of this problem last for no longer than a few minutes and, thus, can only prove to be a minor reprieve.