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Muscle cramps are a sudden shortening of the muscles. These can cause intense pain and the person is unable to use the affected muscles. Athletes and sportsperson often suffer from cramps in their legs. Stomach poisoning can also cause cramps.

 Overexertion, dehydration and injuries to muscles can cause muscle cramps. Dehydration is more common in warm weather. When the arteries in the legs become narrow, the supply of blood carrying oxygen to the feet is affected during exercise. This causes cramps, which are usually of  a short duration and disappear a few minutes after exercises are stopped. Cramps can also be due to lack of  oxygen, water and salts like potassium, calcium and sodium. Muscle cramps may also be a symptom of disorders like nerve compression, diabetes, hormone or thyroid disorders.

 

 For most people, cramps occur occasionally and can be treated at home. Some of the remedies for cramps are:

1. Cramps due to lack of oxygen can be treated by deep breathing to increase oxygen intake

 

2. Drinking enough water and increasing the salt intake will reduce the pain caused by cramps due to lack of water and salt. Drink fluids before doing any exercise and also at regular intervals while exercising.

 

3.  Stretching the muscles before doing any exercise will reduce cramps. If you suffer from cramps at night, stretch muscles before going to sleep.

 

4. Applying a heating pad, hot water bottle or hot towel will improve blood circulation and provide temporary relief. An ice pack could be used to numb the pain. Sometimes a gentle massage can be useful.

 

5. Painkillers may provide temporary relief and alternate therapies like acupuncture may be considered.


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