EXERCISE INDUCED MUSCLE CRAMPS
|Definition||Exercise induced muscle cramps are painful spasms that occur during or immediately after activity.|
|Details||This type of cramp typically involves the large muscles of the lower leg. They can, however, occur in any muscle. Long distance running, soccer and football are commonly associated with exercise induced muscle cramps.|
|Causes||The exact cause of muscle cramps is not yet known. The latest theories center around abnormal control of the nerves that are responsible for protecting muscles from getting into a hyperactive state. Muscle fatigue, poor stretching habits and dehydration may also play a role.|
|Diagnosis||Exercise induced muscle cramps are diagnosed by a history from an athlete of muscle pain or twitching just before the onset of spasm. The muscle involved then goes into a hard and contracted state that the athlete cannot voluntary stop. This cramp is typically very painful and usually results in the athlete having to stop participating in the game or practice.|
|Treatment||Exercise induced muscle cramps can be immediately treated by stretching the involved muscle. This helps relax the spasm. Rest, fluids and assessment of vitals signs are also important to rule out other causes of cramping such as heat stroke. When the spasm clears and if the athlete is cleared by medical personnel, he or she may return to participation. If the athlete has recurrent cramping, a full workup including evaluation of blood chemistry (blood count, creatine kinase, electrolytes) may be indicated.|
Exercise induced muscle cramping may be prevented by a consistent stretching program, excellent aerobic training and proper fluid intake during practice or competition.