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Low Levels of Choline Can Contribute To Muscle Cramps

Low Levels of Choline Can Contribute To Muscle Cramps

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:

 

Low Levels of Choline Can Contribute To Muscle Cramps

Affected by muscle cramps

Muscle cramps are common and can happen to anyone, but often occur to:

  • Indoor/outdoor physical work employees
  • Pregnant women
  • The elderly
  • Infants
  • Individuals that are overweight
  • Athletes

Cramping Up

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:

  • Poor circulation
  • Mineral depletion low levels of magnesium, calcium, potassium, and choline
  • Diuretics
  • Low electrolyte levels
  • Nerve disorders are rare cases, but a pinched nerve or spinal cord injury can cause nerve compression that can lead to cramping
  • Tight muscles, this comes from inactivity and not stretching the body causes the muscles to contract involuntarily
  • Hypothyroidism, a thyroid gland that is less active than normal can cause cramps
  • Liver disease

Muscle cramps can make daily activities difficult if not impossible to perform. They often happen at night affecting proper sleep. This can lead to:

  • Pain hangover
  • Grogginess
  • Fogginess
  • Cautious body behavior – as an individual wants to avoid pain and more cramping they begin to watch how they:
  • Step
  • Reach
  • Bend
  • Move
  • So as not to cause discomfort, pain, and further cramping, they develop awkward body positions that create more health problems from improper body posture.
Muscle cramps can happen to any muscle of the body. However, they present most often in the:
  • Abdomen
  • Ribs
  • Legs
  • Feet
  • Hands
  • Arms

Symptoms

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

Mineral Depletion

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
  • Avoiding caffeine
  • Drink plenty of water before and during physical activities, indoor/outdoor work, exercise
  • Self-massaging the cramped muscle/s
  • Stretching before and after physical activities
  • Nightly stretching before bed
  • Chiropractic maintenance

Body Composition Testing


Disclaimer

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*
email: coach@elpasofunctionalmedicine.com
phone: 915-850-0900
Licensed in Texas & New Mexico

References

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

Nutrients, July 202

A Chiropractor’s Guide to Back Spasms

A Chiropractor’s Guide to Back Spasms

Back spasms can be compared to a Charley horse in the back. These are a common complaint in doctors’ clinics throughout the country. Spasms can accompany back pain and neck pain, they can be the result of a traumatic event, like a slip and fall accident or an automobile accident. Here is why they occur and what to do about them. �

 

trapezius anatomy muscles isolated on white d illustration

 

Back Spasms

A back spasm is an involuntary and sustained contraction of one or more muscles of the spine. Spasms can occur without pain when the muscle/s shift, and pulse. But it’s when pain accompanies the spasm that it can become an issue that can lead to a chronic condition.

Example: Runners get the feeling of having a Charley horse in the calf muscle. Having a back spasm is the same. Spinal muscle spasms could be an indication of something serious, like a micro tear around a spinal disc that can generate inflammation to cause the muscles to tense up.

However, with most cases, a back muscle spasm is a symptom of a mild muscle injury, like a sprain. It can be hard to diagnose the pathology of a muscle spasm. One theory is that if there is a noxious stimulus coursing through the body, specifically the back, it can disrupt/disturb the muscles. When this happens the muscles brace/bunch up together to protect the spine. Here’s are five muscle spasm types that can cause back and neck pain.

Cervical Spine

If there is a spasm in the neck, it’s more than likely a contraction of the trapezius muscle. This is the muscle group that runs down the neck into the middle or thoracic spine/back.

neck anatomy

Back spasms in the cervical spine could indicate a contraction of the sternocleidomastoid. This is located at the base of the skull on both sides of the head. When these muscles spasm, the pain is usually localized or in one area that leads to muscle irritation. However, if the spasm is a symptom of underlying inflammation or nerve irritation, then the pain could radiate and spread down.

Thoracic Spine

The trapezius starts at the neck to the last vertebra of the thoracic spine or the middle-back. Therefore, a back spasm can affect the neck as well as the middle of the back as well. Spasms in the midback can also result from a contraction of the rhomboid muscle. These connect the shoulder blades to the rib cage and spine.

Because there is less movement in the middle-back, the muscles in this area are less likely to spasm, compared to the cervical/neck area and the lumbar/low area.

Lumbar Spine

Spasms in the lower back occur from a contraction of the erector spinae muscles. These are the large group of stabilizing muscles that are on either side of the spine or the latissimus dorsi. These muscles are commonly referred to as lats. They are one of the largest muscle groups in the body and cover the middle and lower back.

 

Lats Graphic

 

Relieving Spasms

Treatment for muscle spasms depends on how the injury originated. A full medical history is crucial for a doctor, spine specialist, or chiropractor to be able to look at all the angles in determining and diagnosing the root cause.

It could be from just leaning over and picking up a box to sleeping in an improper/uncomfortable position. This type of pain is less concerning as it is more than likely a sprain or strain, and can be treated rather quickly.

However, if the spasms started after being involved in an automobile accident or falling pretty hard, then there could be serious damage to the area. Back spasms that occur after these types of situations require an immediate full neurologic and muscular examination. This along with advanced imaging, like an MRI.

11860 Vista Del Sol, Ste. 128 The Chiropractors Guide to Back Spasms

Specialists

A spine specialist or chiropractor wants to make sure they’re not missing any underlying injuries or instabilities of the spine that would require extensive and possible invasive treatment. Red flag situations include osteoporosis, which is the loss of bone mass or ankylosing spondylitis, which is a form of arthritis that mainly affects the spine.

  • Osteoporosis can cause an underlying compression fracture.
  • Ankylosing spondylitis can cause parts of the spine to fuse together.

Both underlying conditions can cause muscle spasms. However, conservative treatment for most cases is all that is usually needed to relieve muscle spasms of the spine. These include:

  • Anti-inflammation medications and creams
  • Chiropractic manipulation to improve spinal muscles range of motion
  • Heat and ice application
  • Light activities/exercises like walking that don’t include any bending, twisting, and lifting
  • Massage therapy
  • Physical therapy
  • Therapeutic water exercise rehabilitation program
  • Ultrasound
  • Wearing a soft collar for cervical spasms
11860 Vista Del Sol, Ste. 128 The Chiropractors Guide to Back Spasms

If results do not improve within four to six weeks of conservative treatment, then an MRI or other type of scan of the area will be needed.

All that said preventing back spasms is the way to go. We’ve all heard the phrase to be heart-healthy, which concerns cardiovascular health. Now it’s about being spine healthy. Keeping the abdominal muscles, lumbar extensors, and the erector spinae muscles fit is the key. This can be accomplished with regular stretching and core exercises. Also doing yoga and Pilates will go a long way in minimizing muscle spasms and preventing injuries.

11860 Vista Del Sol, Ste. 128 The Chiropractors Guide to Back Spasms

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