A muscle contraction that is involuntary and can affect any part of the body is called a muscle spasm. Depending on the size and location of the muscle, it can be nearly unnoticeable or painful and sharp. A muscle cramp is a spasm that is fairly brief- relaxing fairly quickly. However, the terms spasm and cramp tend to be used interchangeably.
There are lots of different types of muscle spasms and several different things that cause them. This makes it quite difficult to diagnose repeated episodes of muscle contractions. There are several treatments that could prove to be effective: changes in diet, physical therapy, medications, or a combination of two or more of these.
How Do the Muscles Work?
Usually, muscles will relax and contract according to the signals that are sent to them by the brain via the nerves. This is true of those muscles that are attached to joints and bones and used in exercise or work, as well as those that work automatically, such as in the heart and stomach. The electrical signal of a nerve trips the delicate chemical balance of a muscle and causes it to extend or contract.
Why Do Muscle Spasms Occur?
For the most part, muscle spasms are in one of two major categories. In one case, it may be that there is an electrolyte deficiency, which can result in the nerve signals not being able to travel correctly. On the other hand, it may be that the nerve triggering the muscle is to blame- whether the nerve itself is misfiring or the brain is incorrectly instructing it. No matter what it is that is causing your muscle contractions to occur, you can be sure that the muscle is not properly contracting and it is beyond the individual’s control.
Preventing Muscle Contractions
The very first thing you can do to try and prevent muscle contractions is to make sure you stay hydrated. Drinking lots of water and other healthy drinks through your day or when working hard will mean that your muscles are much less likely to contract and cramp up. Additionally, it is very important to get plenty of nutrition. When your levels of calcium, sodium, and potassium are low, you’re much more likely to experience muscle contractions.
Athletes will usually eat a banana and take some mineral supplements about an hour before working out to prevent possible painful muscle contractions. The banana is very high in electrolytes.
Another thing to consider is proper muscle conditioning. This can be done through regular and proper stretching and exercising. This is especially helpful if you have an injured muscle, that tends to repeatedly and painfully spasm due to signals from the brain. As the muscle continues to heal- with gentle therapy and time- these contractions will become less frequent and much less suddenly.
Treating Muscle Contractions
If the above preventative measures do not help to relieve the problem of muscle contractions, and you get them frequently, then you should consult your physician. He/she can run tests and find out whether or not you have been exposed to certain toxins such as pesticides or lead, and also will be able to test for any neurological dysfunctions. Finally, he/she may prescribe medications such as pain relievers and muscle relaxers to treat the symptoms of muscle contractions.
Homeopathic Remedies for Muscle Contractions
If you’d rather not go the route of medications and medical treatments to take care of your muscle contractions, then you do have other options. Typically, patients do prefer to avoid medications for treatment of these muscle contractions due to all of the possible negative side effects and the possibility of becoming addicted to them- so they prefer to treat their muscle contractions with natural, homeopathic remedies. Following are some great natural remedies for muscle contractions and pain.
1- Stretch and Apply Heat to the Affected Muscles
First of all, know that taking part in high endurance or high impact sports or participating in an exercise program without being in proper physical condition can actually cause your muscles to become fatigued and therefore cause painful muscle contractions. As soon as your muscle contraction occurs, you should stop and then gently stretch and massage the muscle that is affected. Hold the stretch and direct your focus to relaxing the muscle until the contraction stops. If this doesn’t help to relax the muscle, then you should gently rub it or apply heat. Taking time to stretch and warm up correctly before exercising will help to prevent further muscle contractions.
2- Drink Lots of Water
If your body is dehydrated, your muscles will not be able to properly function and could possibly go into a painful contraction. If you’re working or taking part in sports outside, this is a major concern. Medical professionals recommend that you first of all drink water to see if you can get the muscle contractions to stop. If this doesn’t work, then you should try taking salt tablets or drinking a sports drink in order to replace the electrolytes that your body has lost. When you’re going to be out in the hot and/or humid weather, you should bring lots of water with you and drink before you start to get thirsty.
3- Apply Weight and Cold Packs
If the muscle contraction is affecting your leg muscles, then very slowly put weight on it and see if it will go away. However, if the pain is very severe, applying a cold pack to the affected area could help to numb the area, thereby easing the pain, so that the muscle will be able to relax.
Of course, if none of these work, there are some natural herbal remedies available that don’t bring with them the nasty side effects of prescription medications. You