Muscle cramps are sudden and involuntary contractions of one or more of the body’s muscles. They often occur at night or at any moment stopped by a sudden Charley horse. These cramps can cause severe pain, making it impossible to move and use the affected muscle/s. They are usually brought on from:
Muscle cramps are common and can happen to anyone, but often occur to:
Indoor/outdoor physical work employees
Individuals that are overweight
Muscle cramps can be a symptom of a variety of medical issues. It is typically dehydration and muscle strain from overworking/exercising the muscles, but it can also be a sign of medical conditions like:
Mineral depletion low levels of magnesium, calcium, potassium, and choline
This is usually sudden, sharp pain. Individuals can also feel or see a lump of muscle tissue under the skin.
When to see a professional
They usually go away on their own not requiring medical care. However, seek medical attention if the cramps:
Are causing severe discomfort and pain
Severe swelling, redness, or changes in skin tone
Muscle weakness is present
They are occurring frequently
They do not improve with self-care
There is no connection with an obvious cause, like intense physical activity/exercise
Choline is a nutrient that just as important but not as well known as B vitamins. Choline has a fundamental role in muscle physiology and low levels could be a cause/contributor of muscle cramping. Choline is well-known for its function as part of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine. This is a chemical messenger that transmits signals between nerve cells and muscles. Acetylcholine is the physiological link that tells the muscles to contract. This is where medications can interfere with the messaging system.
Most believe that muscle cramps are caused by magnesium deficiency. This is true, but magnesium is not the only nutrient that could present with muscle issues. Choline regulates intracellular calcium and muscle contraction. This is what helps bind calcium proteins to muscle receptors. Choline keeps minerals like calcium available to the muscles so they can use it instantly when they need to contract. For individuals with skeletal muscle issues, which can be muscle cramping, general soreness, or another type of issue, testing for choline status could be the key.
Prevention and Relief
Home self-care for prevention and relief includes:
Heat or ice application to the muscle/s and affected areas
Drink plenty of water before and during physical activities, indoor/outdoor work, exercise
The information herein is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional, licensed physician, and is not medical advice. We encourage you to make your own health care decisions based on your research and partnership with a qualified health care professional. Our information scope is limited to chiropractic, musculoskeletal, physical medicines, wellness, sensitive health issues, functional medicine articles, topics, and discussions. We provide and present clinical collaboration with specialists from a wide array of disciplines. Each specialist is governed by their professional scope of practice and their jurisdiction of licensure. We use functional health & wellness protocols to treat and support care for the musculoskeletal system’s injuries or disorders. Our videos, posts, topics, subjects, and insights cover clinical matters, issues, and topics that relate to and support, directly or indirectly, our clinical scope of practice.* Our office has made a reasonable attempt to provide supportive citations and has identified the relevant research study or studies supporting our posts. We provide copies of supporting research studies available to regulatory boards and the public upon request. We understand that we cover matters that require an additional explanation of how it may assist in a particular care plan or treatment protocol; therefore, to further discuss the subject matter above, please feel free to ask Dr. Alex Jimenez or contact us at 915-850-0900.
Dr. Alex Jimenez DC, MSACP, CCST, IFMCP*, CIFM*, CTG*
Licensed in Texas & New Mexico
American Osteopathic Association. Muscle Cramp. Accessed 12/10/2019.
Merck Manual. Muscle Cramps. Accessed 12/10/2019.
Miller, Timothy M, and Robert B Layzer. “Muscle cramps.” Muscle & nerve vol. 32,4 (2005): 431-42. doi:10.1002/mus.20341
Chronic back pain does not have to ruin the summer season. The best approach is planning ahead remembering a few self-care warm/hot weather tips. The hot weather can worsen pain symptoms. With all the family activities going on, maintaining back pain wellness can be difficult. This is where the planning/preparing for chronic pain comes in.
Individuals should begin thinking around April what they will be doing once the hot months arrive and plan accordingly. However, self-care should be implemented for all seasons. �
Depending on the condition, water can be a friendly sanctuary from the pain with the ability to do some spine exercises. Light stretching can bring relief and keeps the muscles and ligaments stretched. Outside of the pool, a misting fan can create a relaxing atmosphere along with ice packs during summer pain flares. �
Avoid high heat
Sunburn or prolonged heat exposure can cause burning nerve pain. The changes in temperature and barometric pressure can trigger joint pain. Plan on doing activities in the morning or after the sun has set. Keep a hand-held fan close-by whenever going out. Wear loose light sun friendly clothing, comfortable shoes, possibly a hat to shield the face and keep an ice-cold water bottle with you. �
Summer activities typically include uncomfortable seating, like small chairs, bleachers, and activities where everyone sits on the ground. Plan ahead for these situations and store a comfortable possibly therapeutic folding or travel chair that fits in an automobile. Add a lumbar cushion to support the lower back. �
Don�t let summer vacation or road trips get in the way of your chiropractic treatment plan. Check-in before you go and ask for help to navigate the adventure with as little pain as possible. Self-sufficiency can be achieved by planning ahead. Reduce stress and increase your independence.
Why Chiropractic Works
Dr. Alex Jimenez�s Blog Post Disclaimer
The scope of our information is limited to chiropractic, musculoskeletal, physical medicines, wellness, and sensitive health issues and/or functional medicine articles, topics, and discussions. We use functional health & wellness protocols to treat and support care for injuries or disorders of the musculoskeletal system. Our posts, topics, subjects, and insights cover clinical matters, issues, and topics that relate and support directly or indirectly our clinical scope of practice.*
Our office has made a reasonable attempt to provide supportive citations and has identified the relevant research study or studies supporting our posts. We also make copies of supporting research studies available to the board and or the public upon request. We understand that we cover matters that require an additional explanation as to how it may assist in a particular care plan or treatment protocol; therefore, to further discuss the subject matter above, please feel free to ask Dr. Alex Jimenez or contact us at 915-850-0900. The provider(s) Licensed in Texas& New Mexico*
Chiropractor, Dr. Alex Jimenez shares some how-to advice on taking hot baths for back tension and pain. A bath can be a wonderful and fulfilling experience in self-care for back pain. There are medical benefits from taking a hot bath, as well. A hot bath can be extremely helpful when it comes to back pain.
Dr. Jimenez helps his patients with spinal ailments and conditions that range from arthritis, degenerative disc disease to nerve compression, sciatica, auto accident injuries, sports injuries, etc. In addition to chiropractic, physical therapy, diet, and exercise, he has also seen the power of home remedies, like a hot bath.
There are scientific studies that have shown how hydrotherapy can relieve back pain. Dr. Jimenez describes a hot bath as a muscle-relaxing stimulus. It opens up the muscles, which allows more blood to flow through, which in turn helps to heal injury/s, tightness, and soreness. It helps to clean out lactic acid, which is known to cause muscle pain, fatigue, and muscle cramps.
Here is what usually happens to the spine when soreness, tightness, aching, and pain present. A spinal structure like a nerve, disc, vertebral bone, or other tissue is injured or on the verge of injury, and the muscles around it contract closely in to prevent more damage.
This is called muscle spasm. Don’t worry the body is supposed to respond this way, as it means the damaged tissue is less likely to sustain further injury. However, muscle spasms can be painful. Much like a Charley horse, a back spasm can have the same effect.
For example, someone standing or working for an extended period places the muscle/s under constant tension, which means they have a higher chance of having a spasm and developing painful symptoms. A hot bath relaxes the muscle/s and reduces/removes the aching soreness and pain. Here are some tips to help relax the back muscles. �
Try Epsom Salt
Taking a bath with Epsom salt or minerals that dissolve in water can be helpful, but are not necessary. Many are fantastic skin relaxants, but if you have a hot bath with or without the salt, it�s not going to make a huge difference. What makes the bath work is the heat and the floatation. This what creates the benefits.
Soak 15-20 Minutes
It is really up to the individual, as to how long they want to stay in the tub. One question to ask is how long can you take sitting in hot water? Hot tubs are normally heated to about 102 to 103 degrees. With these types of tubs, individuals can sit for a half-hour or more. However, most of us do not have a jacuzzi, so remember that a regular bath will be warmer possibly 105 or 106 degrees. It all depends on how long you can take the heat. �
� Remember not to scald yourself with a bath that is way too hot to soak in, please. It�s ok to get the water running hot, but as it fills turn the heat down and let it cool slightly before stepping in. Most individuals don�t need more than 15 to 20 minutes of soaking time maximum.
As for how often one should take a hot bath, Dr. Jimenez explains that it depends on the severity of the back pain and what type of work and activities the individual does. For most three times a week offers a balanced therapy. If an individual has a strenuous physical job like construction work, manual lifting, standing work, or doing highly repetitive work then they�ll need to do more than 3 times a week.
Strengthen the Body’s Core
A strong core can support and protect the spine, along with the rest of the body. Squeezing and contracting the back, side, and front muscles make the core strong and robust. It behaves like a steel beam supporting the spine when added protection is needed.
After a hot bath is a perfect time to stretch. Toe touches can loosen tight hamstrings that can strain the lower back. Also, try out yoga’s upward-facing dog pose. Sun salutationscan help the spine go through a wide range of motion. Therefore do them slowly and hold each pose for a few breaths. A long salutation or two can feel tremendous when the spine is nice and relaxed.
Take Care When Getting Out
Hot baths might not be a good idea or the right option for certain people. If there is instability in your spine and the vertebra move around more than they are supposed to then a hot bath might not be the best option. Instead, a hot shower with a massage setting could be equivalent to taking a hot bath.
However, if a hot bath is not helping with back pain it could be a sign of something more than muscle tightness or a muscle spasm. A spine specialist or chiropractor can give you a proper diagnosis.
What Chiropractors Do & Why They Do It
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