Who Can Get Muscle Cramps
Anyone can experience muscle cramps, regardless of age, gender or fitness level. Cramps can occur not just while you exercise, but also while you sit, walk, or even just sleep. Sometimes, the slightest movement that shortens a muscle can trigger a cramp. However, in otherwise healthy people, the fact remains that muscle cramps are most common in endurance athletes such as marathon runners and triathletes, and those who perform strenuous physical activities without previous experience or lacking base conditioning. In short, the fitter and better trained you are for your event, the lower the risk of muscle cramps.
Cramps are most likely to strike towards the end of intense or prolonged exercise, or around 4-6 hours later, indicating that muscular fatigue is a major factor. The obvious implication is that with improved fitness and conditioning, the risk of cramps can be significantly reduced. However, an important question to ask is what other strategies can reduce cramping risk and in particular, whether improved nutrition and hydration can help?
Cramping At Lower Abdomen Is Common But Really Annoying And Excruciating Find Out Its Causes Accompanying Symptoms And Proper Treatments Here
People often refer to the abdomen as their belly or stomach, and it is a part of the body that lies between the chest and the pelvis. The abdomen may be divided into four parts for diagnostic purposes, and these are named the upper right, upper left, lower right, and lower left quadrants.
Lower abdominal cramping or pain is one of the most common symptoms experienced, and it may be either in the lower right or in lower left side. There are many possible causes of lower abdominal pain, and the diagnosis may depend on the accompanying symptoms and location of the pain.
Reducing Muscle Cramping Risk
Strategies involving stretching and relaxing muscles are proven ways to reduce cramping risk and help treat cramping when it occurs . When it comes to improved nutritional strategies however, the scientific evidence about what actually reduces the risk of cramping is far from clearcut, mainly because theres actually very little data from published studies. One reason for the paucity of data is the sheer unpredictability of muscle cramps because its hard to predict when cramping will occur, its almost impossible to collect together a group of athletes to run tests before during and after cramping episodes. There are also ethical reasons muscle cramps are painful and debilitating and it would be hard to justify studies that deliberately induced severe cramping just to collect data! To add to the confusion, the studies that have been conducted have often produced mixed results. For example, South African scientists studied 72 runners competing in an ultra-distance marathon and compared data from those who suffered exercise-induce cramps and those who didnt 1. Although they found small variations in blood levels of post-exercise sodium and magnesium, they concluded that there were no clinically significant alterations in blood electrolyte concentrations and no alteration in hydration status in runners with exercise associated muscle cramping .
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How To Relieve Stomach Pain Symptoms
There isnt necessarily a cure for the stomach pain symptoms themselves. When your body is under stress, your stomach tends to hurt based on the acids in your stomach and the foods youve already eaten. If you have stomach pain as a result of an anxiety attack, you may need to wait it out.
Water can help a little, however. So consider sipping cool water. Antacids may also be beneficial in some cases, but if you have stomach pain often, you may not want to depend on antacid treatments.
Stomach pain from anxiety can be caused by several stress-related issues, including abdominal tension, digestion issues, and irritable bowel. Although the stomach pain may be caused by anxiety, the acids in the stomach are still very real. There are ways to treat both your stomach discomfort and anxiety.
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Why Does Your Stomach Hurt
Stomach cramps can range from mild achiness to severe, stabbing pain.
Common causes of stomach cramps include eating foods that can irritate your stomach, constipation, food poisoning, or a stomach infection. People who have anxiety may also develop stomach cramps.
Pregnant people may experience stomach cramps as the fetus grows. Menstrual cramps are also very common, though they actually take place in the uterus.
Sometimes stomach cramps are constant. In this case, a chronic digestive illness, such as irritable bowel disease, may be the cause.
Most stomach cramps go away on their own within a few hours or a couple of days. Changing what you eat and taking over-the-counter medication can help with symptoms while you recover.
Some stomach cramps may require medical attention. You should be concerned about stomach cramps if they last for a week or longer or are so severe that you cant function, or you also have symptoms like fever or blood in your vomit or stool.
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Since Menstrual Cramps Cannot Likely Be Avoided Every Time You Have A Menstrual Period Here Are Some Tips On How To Stop Period Cramps:
- Use of pill. Pill could end the misery of your period pains. Dysmenorrhea could be a leading reason why most women in their teens and 20s skip their schools and work. It doesnt only diminish the quality time women spend for their regular activities, but also brings society-wide economic cost through enormous days lost from work and school. Aside from abdominal pain, dysmenorrhea can also be associated to nausea, vomiting, dizziness and sweating. Pills administered by doctors could be of help in stopping period cramps. There are available over-the-counter pills in the market, but it is more advisable to seek the advice of a doctor before taking pills to avoid health complications.
- Natural remedies. Menstrual cramps can also be cured by several natural remedies available in your home. Here are some remedies you can prepare to alleviate your period cramps.
What Questions Should I Ask My Healthcare Provider About Muscle Spasms
- Do you recommend that I see a physical therapist, sleep specialist, massage therapist or other specialist?
- Do you think that my muscle spasms are a symptom of a disease?
- Can you show me the best exercises I can do to stretch my muscles?
- How can I help my child when they have a muscle spasm?
- Can you show me the best massage techniques I can use to help with my muscle spasms?
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What Causes Muscle Spasms
Idiopathic means that the exact cause is unknown, and thats the case with muscle spasms. Some experts believe that one of more of the following may be to blame in most cases:
- Not enough stretching.
Possible causes for nocturnal leg cramps , specifically, include:
- Sitting for long periods of time.
- Overusing the muscles.
- Standing or working on concrete floors.
- Sitting improperly.
Does Constipation Cause Gas
Yes, Veloso says. Anything that slows down the digestive process, such as a low-fiber diet, use of opioid medications or an anticholinergic drug can put the brakes on timely bowel function.
Veloso says eating a diet rich in fiber, staying hydrated and exercising is a good long-term approach for beating bouts of gas and cramping. If these measures dont improve constipation and gas, a polyethylene glycol laxative can help, she notes.
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How Are Muscle Spasms Treated
When a spasm strikes, you might be exercising, simply sitting or even sleeping in the middle of the night. If only there was a magical injection that could instantly relieve your pain! There are, however, five steps you can take to try to get rid of the spasm:
- Stretch the affected area.
- Massage the affected area with your hands or a massage roller.
- Stand up and walk around.
- Apply heat or ice. Put an ice pack together or apply a heating pad, or take a nice warm bath.
- Take painkillers such as ibuprofen and acetaminophen.
When To Make An Appointment To See Your Doctor
Schedule an appointment to see your doctor if:
- Your stomach pain doesnt go away within a couple of days.
- The pain comes back after going away.
- Symptoms like diarrhea dont go away within a couple of days.
- Youre urinating more or less often, and/or its painful.
- You have unintended weight loss.
Know your body, Dr. Kingsley says. If you start having pain that you have not had before and does not go away, you should contact your doctor to be evaluated further.
Bottom line: Trust your gut! Contact your doctor if youre concerned about lingering or unusual stomach pain.
Editor’s Note: This infographic was originally published on June 24, 2014.
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How To Prevent Stomach Cramps
Keep stress levels under control. If the condition coincides with stressful situations, try to avoid stress as much as possible, and look at learning stress management techniques.
Manage your weight. When you carry extra pounds around your mid-section, your stomach gets pushed upward and acid backs up into your esophagus. To lose weight, get some regular exercise, and cook healthily.
Exercise regularly. Try to include stretching as part of your exercise routine.
Notice if there is any food that seems to disagree with your digestive system. If you suffer from stomach cramps often, this may be indicative of an intolerance to certain foods. It is advisable to keep a food diary and try to determine if there is an association with a certain food or group of foods and your stomach cramps.
- Failing to drink sufficient liquids may cause stomach cramps. This can be exacerbated by strenuous exercise.
- Eating an excessive amount of non-soluble fiber may cause cramps associated with constipation.
- Milk and milk products may cause cramps and stomach pain in people who are lactose intolerant.
- Some people are sensitive to uncooked vegetables and fruits, particularly if the peels are not removed.
- Limit gas-producing goods .
Causes Of Abdominal Pain In Adults
There are many reasons why you may have pain in your abdomen. People often worry about appendicitis, gallstones, ulcers, infections and pregnancy problems. Doctors also worry about these, as well as many other conditions. Abdominal pain may not come from the abdomen. Some surprising causes include heart attacks and pneumonias, conditions in the pelvis or groin, some skin rashes like shingles, and problems with stomach muscles like a strain. The pain may occur along with problems in passing urine or with bowel motions, or period problems.With so many organs and structures in the abdomen, it can be hard for a doctor to be absolutely sure about the cause of your problem. The doctor will ask you several questions and then examine you carefully. The doctor may perform no further tests. The cause of your pain may be quite clearly not serious. Another scenario may be that the doctor is unable to find a cause, but the pain gets better within hours or days. All the doctor can do is to be sure that the pain does not require surgery or admission to hospital.
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When Should I See My Doctor
In some cases, you should seek urgent medical attention or consult a doctor if you have abdominal pain.
If you have a sudden, severe, incapacitating pain in your abdomen, go immediately to your nearest emergency department or call triple zero and ask for an ambulance.
You should also seek urgent medical attention if you have pain that:
- is severe and/or getting worse
- has lasted for several hours or more
- wakes you from sleep
- is spreading to your neck, chest or shoulders
- makes it difficult to swallow
Urgent medical attention is also required if you have abdominal pain accompanied by
- unexplained weight loss
- skin that appears yellow
If you are experiencing pain high up in your abdomen that is made worse by exercise it could be angina or a heart attack. If you, or someone near you is experiencing symptoms of a heart attack, call triple zero immediately and ask for an ambulance.
If you are pregnant and experiencing abdominal pain, check with your doctor or midwife. Abdominal pains are common in pregnancy, but should always be checked out.
If your abdominal pain does not match the situations above, but it is recurrent or persistent , or it started mild but is worsening, you should still consult a doctor.
How To Avoid Cramps
If youve never experienced the excruciating and debilitating pain of a muscle cramp, count yourself lucky! But if you have, the good news is that you can avoid cramps.
When muscle cramping strikes during exercise, it can scupper even the best laid competition or workout plans. And post-exercise cramping is no less traumatic, especially when it strikes in the middle of the night. For all sportsmen and women therefore, minimising the risk of muscle cramps with good nutritional strategies makes extremely good sense.
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Avoid Your Personal Trigger Foods
If your cramps tend to flare up after a meal, your body is probably struggling to digest something you ate. Trigger foods can worsen inflammation and gas, which increases the pain, Dr. Naik says. Keeping a food log can help you spot any culprits, which may include dairy, carbonated drinks, and high-fiber foods, according to the Crohns & Colitis Foundation. Try eating soft, bland foods like bananas and toast while you figure out your personal triggers.
How Can I Prevent Muscle Spasms
Muscle spasms are difficult to prevent. They can be unpredictable. They can happen at any time. There are risk factors you cant avoid, like your age. However, there are some reported methods that might be helpful when it comes to overcoming those risk factors and preventing the muscle spasms:
- Perform flexibility exercises on a regular basis.
- Work towards better overall fitness.
- Stretch your muscles regularly. Do this especially for those most prone to muscle spasms.
- Drink fluids frequently. Choose water and avoid alcohol and caffeine.
- Avoid exercising in hot weather.
- Wear shoes that fit you properly.
- Keep your weight at a healthy range. Experiment with mild exercise right before bed to prevent nocturnal leg cramps.
- Avoid medications that may cause muscle spasms as a side effect.
- To prevent leg cramps, use pillows to keep your toes pointed upwards if you sleep on your back. If you sleep on your chest, hang your feet over the end of the bed.
- Stretch your muscles before you go to sleep. When you sleep, keep the sheets and blankets loose around your legs.
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How Is The Cause Of Abdominal Pain Diagnosed
Abdominal pain is one of the most common symptoms seen by GPs .
Information about your symptoms and the location of the abdominal pain can help a doctor diagnose the cause of your pain. They will want to know how long you have had the pain and may want to do a physical examination. If you are female, this may include a pelvic examination. If you are male, it may include checking your penis and scrotum.
They may suggest you have some blood tests or other diagnostic procedures done, especially if you have had the symptoms for some time.
Tests and procedures that may help in diagnosing the cause of abdominal pain include:
Other procedures that may be suggested, depending on your gender, include:
- pregnancy test and/or pelvic ultrasound
- ultrasound of the scrotum
How Do I Know If Its Anxiety And Not An Ulcer
Its not uncommon to find yourself concerned that your struggle with stomach pain is not from anxiety or stress at all. For example, you may find yourself concerned that instead of anxiety, what you are really struggling with is an ulcer.
Only a doctor can diagnose whether or not your pain is from an ulcer, but there are some clues. The clearest signal is if you have any blood in your stool or acid burps . Thats often a clear sign of an ulcer. Also, if the pain or discomfort tends to occur after eating and isnt related to a similar condition, GERD , its possible you may have an ulcer.
However, this is complicated by the fact that ulcers can be caused by long-term stress and anxiety, as they stimulate the production of extra stomach acid. This excess acid in the stomach breaks down the gastric or intestinal lining and cause open wounds that may harm your health.
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Symptoms Of Abdominal Pain In Adults
The type of pain can vary greatly. When abdominal pain occurs, it can:
- be sharp, dull, stabbing, cramp-like, twisting or fit many other descriptions
- be brief, come and go in waves, or it can be constant
- make you throw up
- make you want to stay still or make you so restless that you pace around trying to find just the right position
- vary from a minor problem to one needing urgent surgery.