Causes for Charley Horses in your legs
A charley horse is a muscle contraction that may occur when your muscle suddenly tightens up on its own. These cramps can happen in any part of the body but are most common in the legs. These muscle spasms mostly occur in the skeletal muscles as they are attached to the bones which we typically control voluntarily such as the muscles of our hands, legs and feet. Though generally harmless, muscle cramps may result in temporary loss of mobility of the muscles that may be affected. Long periods of physical exercise can lead to muscle cramps, especially during hot weather. However, there are other more significant reasons that result in charley horses in our legs.
OVERUSE OR MUSCLE FATIGUE
Muscle fatigue is a symptom that makes it difficult to move normally. People often experience an ache in their muscles and may also feel constantly tired. This leads to them lacking the energy required for daily tasks. Sometimes, over exertion while performing an activity or daily task can also cause the muscles to tire out due to the immense strain being imposed on them.
Muscle fatigue typically arises from excessive use of muscles. Exercising or engaging in a physical activity too intensely slows down the process of remodeling- the reproduction of new tissues. This places a great demand on the muscles causing inflammation and swelling which leads to sudden tightening of the tendons and ligaments. This is what causes cramps when we spend a super busy day at the office.
Water is an essential need for our body as it helps not only in the metabolism and chemical reactions, it also plays an important part in order to perform proper contractions of our muscles. Dehydration is a common issue in individuals who are involved in high volumes of physically exercise performed in hot ambient environments. Due to lack of water intake, the required amount of water level in the body drops. This reduces the blood pressure which leads to the blood flow in the muscles to decrease. As the mechanism of sweating continues on, the cells start getting dehydrated causing an adverse effect on the skeletal cell functions. This hinders the thermal regulation, altering the water movement across the cell, which negatively affects the performance of our muscles. This makes the muscles over sensitive and leads to cramps. As our biceps are the ones mostly involved in such heavy exercises, they often stiffen up leading to charley horses in our legs.
Chronic pain usually is the result of an injury caused by an initial back sprain or a pulled muscle. This could directly affect a tissue in the surroundings of the injury. For example, a sprained back may cause inflammation in the tissues and bones resulting in a herniated disk in your lower spine. This may put a great amount of pressure on the nerves causing sever cramp-like pain in the lower back area of your leg.
The nerve compression in your spine may cause severe damage to the nerves resulting in the nerve messages to become disrupted. If a lot of pressure is exerted on those nerves a, it could result in the spasms to last longer and become more serious if not treated in time.
INADEQUATE BLOOD FLOW TO THE MUSCLES
Another major cause of cramps and charley horses is the blockage of the blood vessels which may result in restricted blood flow to the muscles. This blockage is mostly caused by a high intake of fatty foods and oils. If the intake of fatty acids is increased too much, the liver may not be able to completely digest the fats as they require a lot of time. Increased cholesterol level would result in the fat would to deposit on the walls of the blood vessels which would could start restricting the blood flow through your vessels. The muscles, such as the leg muscles, which require a lot of blood in order to perform its heavy tasks would be deprived of the required amount of blood causing the muscles in stiffen, making the contractions difficult. This would cause severe soreness and numbness in various parts of the body and could also result in more serious problems in the future, such as a cardiac arrest.
One of the most common causes of cramps is the deficiency of minerals that are essential for our body such as magnesium, calcium and potassium. A deficiency may be caused due to lack of minerals in your diet or may be the caused due to your body not being able to absorb the minerals from the food.
Minerals play a very important part in the metabolism of our body. They not only enable your bones and muscles to work properly but also help in making enzymes, which help to perform most of the chemical reactions that take place in our body. For example, calcium helps to strengthen our bones and relax our muscles in order to help them move easily and perform the contractions. Similarly, iron helps in the formation of red blood cells which are one of the major sub-units of the blood, which helps to carry oxygen to the cells of the muscles so they may perform their movements swiftly. Not getting enough minerals would lead to the metabolism of our body to slow down. Not only this, your muscles may start to shorten up and you could end up with chronic pain and cramping.
There are other natural risk factors as well that may contribute to this problem such as age.
· Older people often tend to get charley horses more often due to their weakening bones and muscles.
· Athletes experience a lot of cramp-like pains that may be due to over exerting their muscles as a result of long-term training.
· Pregnant women often complain about severe contractions during their second and third trimesters.
· Over weight or obese people are amongst those who are believed to develop charley horses the most.
CHARLEY HORSE TREATMENT
Charley horses can be treated with simple exercises on the spot. Putting weight on the affected leg and bending your knee slightly could help stop the cramping pain. Sitting or lying with your leg stretched out could also help in coping up with the pain. Maintaining a proper healthy diet along with the intake of vitamin supplements could help prevent this condition. However, if the contractions come with other symptoms such as numbness, diarrhea or severe sweating, you may have to seek immediate medical help as this may be a sign of some serious health issue that may have developed with time.
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