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After exercising, when they are resting, while they sleep ... Many children complain of discomfort in their legs, known as cramps in children. What exactly are they? Why do they occur? What are your causes? And the treatment to follow? We will tell you everything below!
Cramps are sudden contractions of a muscle or muscle group, localized, uncontrollable and of variable duration in time (from a few seconds to several minutes). Sometimes they can be easily appreciated, and on palpation we find a hard area (it is the typical ball rise). The cramps usually stop with the stretching of the muscles involved, or they subside spontaneously. Before the muscle relaxes, several can occur in a row.
They are a common phenomenon. They usually appear with the muscles at rest, mostly at night. More than 80% occur in the lower limbs, especially in the calf and toes. Although sometimes the thighs are also affected. When they are frequent, they can cause sleep disorders. It is also normal for them to happen during significant physical exertion.
The cause is unclear. There are various theories that can explain this phenomenon. Often several factors can be involved. Up to 80% of women usually suffer from it in the third trimester of pregnancy, they are very common in hemodialysis patients and also usually appear during growth spurts or 'spurts'. Here are some of the possible causes of these spasms:
- Major injury: During a bone fracture, a reflex spasm occurs, which helps to immobilize the area.
- Overexertion: muscle fatigue that can be caused by intense training or work increases the risk of cramps. They happen during the activity, or right after it.
- Growth shoots: very common in children ages 3 to 5 and 9 to 15. It is thought that rapid bone growth is not followed at the muscular level, leading to stretching of the tendons and an increased risk of cramps.
- Taking certain medications: diuretics, static, bronchodilators, corticosteroids ...
- Cramps during rest: They occur at all ages and are thought to be related to prolonged poor leg position or poor movement. It is recommended to avoid the weight of blankets on the foot, since this shortens the calf muscles, and can increase the episodes.
- Metabolic problems: diabetes mellitus, gout, thyroid problems, Addison's disease ...
- Neuromusculoskeletal problems: motor neuron disease, polyneuropathies, dystonias etc.
- Postural problems: maintained postures. The most typical are cramps in the hands, which occur during prolonged writing efforts and those that occur to musicians.
- Vitamin deficiency: B1, B5, B6, Vit D. Some of them are important cofactors of enzymatic reactions that intervene in multiple processes.
- Vascular problems: Venous insufficiency, vascular disease ... Poor circulation decreases oxygen in the muscle, which can cause pain similar to spasm, although it is due to the accumulation of lactic acid.
- Dehydration: A loss of water through perspiration can occur in intense efforts, which will produce a loss of metabolites.
- Electrolyte imbalance: hemodialysis, chronic diarrhea, hypocalcaemia, hypokalaemia, hyponatraemia, hypomagnesemia, hyperkalemia
- Important cold: for example in the case of swimmers with ice water.
- Excessive heat: it can cause dehydration and loss of mineral salts.
- Uphill race
- Congenital: family muscle cramp syndrome
- Bad diet and lifestyle: low consumption of fruits, vegetables, fish and nuts, which causes a lack of vitamins and minerals. Abuse of stimulants such as coffee or tea, excess alcoholic beverages that acidify and some are diuretic, consumption of processed meats, tobacco ...
It is manifested by intense pain, which can last for 24 hours after the episode. Also due to an inability to walk when it occurs in the lower limb or difficulty writing or continuing to carry out an activity when it happens in the hands. Another of the most common symptoms is the presence of a contracture in the area of the cramp.
We must also talk about reducing pain when stretching the involved muscles. When it appears in the calf, sometimes it simply gives way with the foot on the ground. At other times it is necessary to stretch by resting the hands on the wall, flexing and advancing the opposite leg, or if we are still lying down, fully stretching the leg and bringing the toes towards us.
As we have discussed previously, it is essential to stretch the muscle chain involved in the cramp. The massage will also help to unload and relax the area. Other One measure to treat cramps is to use heat to relax and cold after the initial spasm has passed. If you decide to go to a specialist, he or she will carry out an inspection and palpation of the area. You will be able to check the pulses and assess sensitivity and reflexes. He will recommend exercises to do at home.
It is important to avoid unnecessary efforts, especially in high temperatures, as well as in extreme cold (swimmers in the open sea). Do not forget to do a good warm-up before exercise, and stretching afterwards.
Supplementation with magnesium and vitamin B6 in some cases improves this condition, as well as a healthy lifestyle with good hydration and a diet away from alcohol, soft drinks and stimulants.
And, of course, if the episodes are very frequent, it would be advisable to go to the doctor.
You can read more articles similar to Cramps in children. Causes and origin of this pathology, in the category of Orthopedics and on-site traumatology.