Causes of Muscle Cramps and Spasms
Muscle cramps and muscle spasms are involuntary, sustained tightening (contraction) of one or more of the muscles in your body. It can result in intense discomfort and an inability to use the affected muscles. Night leg cramps are contractions of the leg muscles, usually in the back of the lower leg (calf). They often occur just as you’re falling asleep or just as you’re waking up.
The exact cause of night leg cramps isn’t known. Some experts believe they may be due to abnormal processing of electrolytes — the essential elements and chemical substances your body needs for basic functions — by muscles. Almost everyone has occasional leg cramps and muscle cramps, but they occur most often in older adults. Common causes of night leg cramps and muscle cramps include:
Physical activities that cause muscle cramps:
- Muscle overexertion
- Prolonged sitting
Conditions that can cause muscle cramps:
Disease states that can cause muscle cramps:
Muscle Cramps can be a Drug Side Effect :
- Certain hormone drugs-e.g. Evista
Muscle cramps can be a debilitating medical issue affecting people across the broad spectrum of levels of activity, age, competitive sports and the military. Muscle cramps and spasms can produce significant discomfort, cause a worker to lose time, have elderly persons become inactive due to fear of discomfort, cause sleep depravation due to through-the-night discomfort, render a military soldier incapacitated, and an athlete unable to return to competition. To varying degrees, humans all suffer the symptoms of muscle cramping or spasms from birth to death. For much of the time, these are an annoyance and happen rather infrequently so as not to be considered chronic. For the moment they are certainly painful, but typically subside somewhat quickly and the person resumes their normal activity. People that suffer from muscle cramps and spasms can have a chronic situation that impedes their ability to perform their jobs, compete or complete their activities of daily living.
Mature Adults That Suffer from Chronic Muscle Cramps:
The following is 2010 census data (USA) of aged population that suffer for night leg cramps. Total census data also suggests that the average life span in the US continues to increase. There are over 20 million people1 in the United States over the age of 60 that chronically suffer with leg cramps.
1Source: © EMIS and Patient Information Publications 1997-2007 (Patient UK)
Many of these people in addition to having night cramps have limited mobility during the day due to muscle cramping. Cramp911™ improves the quality of their lives.
Populations in these age groups will continue to grow with the increase of the baby boomers.
Athletes That Are Physically Active Suffer from Chronic Muscle Cramps :
A conservative estimate of 30 million people in the U.S. participate in some form of athletic activity, and will suffer a muscle cramp during a given year.
The military operates in many environments some of which are extreme hot and cold conditions with physical exertion. There are approximately 1.4 million military personal on active duty. Military personnel are considered “casualties” if they are not able to perform their function as part of their unit including leg or muscle cramps.
Other Related Ailments That Suffer from Chronic Muscle Cramps:
There is also a segment of the population that suffers from neck, back or other types of spasms. Low back pain in general affects four out of five Americans at some time2. For example, people with fibromyalgia are usually challenged with muscle spasms in various parts of their bodies. There are approximately 3.7 million people with fibromyalgia according to the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. Multiple Sclerosis patients suffer from muscle cramps and spasms that interfere with daily activities and their quality of life is affected. They are also plagued with the inability to enjoy a full night’s sleep due to muscle cramps and spasms.
by Keith DelPrete, R.Ph.
by Keith DelPrete, R.Ph.