Leg cramps

Leg cramps are a common and usually harmless condition where the muscles suddenly contract (shorten), causing pain in your leg. This is known as a spasm, and you cannot control the affected muscle.The cramp can last from a few seconds to 10 minutes. When the spasm passes, you will be able to control the affected muscle again. It usually occurs in the calf muscles, although it can affect any part of your leg, including your feet and thighs. After the cramping has passed, you may have pain and tenderness in your leg for several hours. Three out of four cases occur at night during sleep.

Muscle spasms and cramps occur when a skeletal muscle contracts involuntary and does not relax immediately. Spasms are muscle contractions that result in decreased movement at the related joint and can last for weeks.  Spasms and cramps are caused by chemise (decreased oxygen), muscle splinting after an injury, and low levels of calcium and magnesium in the blood.

In the subacute and chronic stages of a muscle spasms, massage is indicated because it can decrease pain as well as increase circulation, resulting in more oxygen and nutrients delivered to and removal of waste from the area. This helps break the pain-spasm cycle. Sometimes spasms are referred to as muscle guarding or splinting. In this phenomenon, the body responds to pain by holding a muscle contraction to minimise movement in an attempt to protect an area from further injury.

As part of the body’s own healing mechanism, splinting serves an important purpose, and if the muscles that are acting as splints are relaxed, further injury could result. Treatment for spasms is commonly used with or without a professional diagnosis or prescription and may include heat packs, ice packs, analgesics, muscle relaxants, self-massage, and nutritional supplements such as calcium, magnesium, and potassium.

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