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Old 05-10-2019, 03:00 AM
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Techniques/solutions for muscle cramps


For some reason over the last 2 or 3 years the number of muscle cramps I've been getting has been increasing. And not just the number, but the severity of the cramps and sometimes the location of the cramps is a pain in the ass.

In particular, I've been getting cramps in my abdomen that are really hard to relieve. Usually you just stretch the muscle in the opposite direction of the cramp, but when abdominal muscles cramp there's often no clear "opposite direction", they're kind of involved in every movement. So I end up contorting my body in weird ways, finding the least painful option, and then waiting it out. But it's pretty unpleasant.

More recently, I've been getting really intense hip adductor cramps. Especially if I sit cross-legged. They come on so suddenly and so strongly that it feels like the muscle is going to rip itself apart. They go beyond normal cramps into "oh shit, this feels like serious damage" territory. I've never had cramps that intense.

Anyway... what are my options? I hydrate very well, I drink around a gallon of water a day on average. Is it an electrolyte issue? Should I take some sort of electrolyte suppliments? More gatorade? Pedialyte? Eat bananas or other high-electrolyte foods?

Should I be stretching more? Are there any sort of techniques I can use to reduce the tendency to cramp?
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Old 05-10-2019, 07:23 AM
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Hydrate even more? I drink a rediculous volume of water in an effort to keep my gout quiet while still drinking beer and eating all the bad gout foods. If my water intake slips a tiny bit, muscle cramps are my first warning.

A re you on a statin? I eventually had to stop my statin because of muscle cramps.
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Old 05-10-2019, 07:48 AM
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The best thing ever for cramps is quinine but you can't seem to get it anymore. I still have a few capsules for the really bad nights.
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Old 05-10-2019, 09:05 AM
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I use Hyland's Leg Cramp Pills.

I get foot cramps and they work pretty well for that. They do contain quinine. Available at my local health food store.

Last edited by jaycat; 05-10-2019 at 09:06 AM.
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Old 05-10-2019, 09:27 AM
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Muscle cramps are usually caused by lack of water or electrolytes such as calcium, potassium, or magnesium. If you are getting enough water then it is probably electrolytes. Eating bananas can help with the potassium. There is a spray on magnesium foam called Theraworx that is supposed to help with cramps.

Diuretics can cause cramps if you are taking them. If they don't go away after upping your electrolyte intake or using the foam you should see your doctor.

Last edited by puddleglum; 05-10-2019 at 09:27 AM.
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Old 05-10-2019, 09:46 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jaycat View Post
I use Hyland's Leg Cramp Pills.

I get foot cramps and they work pretty well for that. They do contain quinine. Available at my local health food store.
Umm, ya see that thing on the side of the box that says '3X HPUS'? That means the pills contain no quinine.

CMC fnord!
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Old 05-10-2019, 09:51 AM
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Homeopathic means it contains nothing. Are there pills that contain quinine, though, and do they work?

Last edited by SenorBeef; 05-10-2019 at 09:52 AM.
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Old 05-10-2019, 10:16 AM
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How many vodka tonics do you have to drink to ingest a meaningful amount of quinine?
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Old 05-10-2019, 10:57 AM
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Guy in my cycling club gets on the tonic water before endurance races and claims it works for him, not sure how much he gets through to perceive an effect though.

Different to the OP but I've been susceptible to calf cramps at night in bed for as long as I can remember, can be severely painful. I read on here advice to just stretch your foot up in the split second you're awake before it comes on - so simple but it really works for me. Doesn't stop the cause I guess, but it prevents that muscle clench that deals the pain.

Hitting up Dr Google for information on muscle cramps will inevitably throw up type2 diabetes links. Depending on age it might not be a bad idea to have some blood sugar analyses done, but seems like every malady of middle-aged men can possibly be linked to type2 D so I wouldn't get too alarmed.
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Old 05-10-2019, 11:22 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Busy Scissors View Post
Different to the OP but I've been susceptible to calf cramps at night in bed for as long as I can remember, can be severely painful.
Me too, shortly after waking.

Quote:
I read on here advice to just stretch your foot up in the split second you're awake before it comes on - so simple but it really works for me.
Scrunching my toes works for me.

Last edited by Quartz; 05-10-2019 at 11:22 AM.
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Old 05-10-2019, 12:43 PM
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Originally Posted by kayaker View Post
How many vodka tonics do you have to drink to ingest a meaningful amount of quinine?
Not sure on the vodka tonics, but from personal experience, about three gin and tonics makes it so you don't care about the cramps.

I've gotten muscle cramps, mainly calves and feet, my whole life. I'm starting to get them in my hip flexors now too. I drink a lot of water and eat a couple bananas a day. I cycle a lot and on longer rides always add a salt/potassium supplement to my water bottle (or eat the margarita Bloks which have extra sodium).

And like others, when I wake up and feel a cramp coming on, quickly stretch whatever is getting ready to cramp. I can usually tide them off or make them less extreme.

When I was going through my growth burst (I grew about a foot in a year), there were many times I had cramps in both calves at one time. The kind where it feels like you have a baseball in your calf. Intense pain. And then it feels like a pulled muscle the rest of the day. Luckily I don't get them like back then.
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Old 05-10-2019, 02:41 PM
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I work in a machine shop, and sometimes get cramps in my hands from pulling on levers hard, repetitively. Mustard. Plain ol' yellow kind. Bicycling friends of mine stock up on the little packs fast food places have, and carry them along. Works like a charm.
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Old 05-10-2019, 02:54 PM
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Originally Posted by mind the gap View Post
I work in a machine shop, and sometimes get cramps in my hands from pulling on levers hard, repetitively. Mustard. Plain ol' yellow kind. Bicycling friends of mine stock up on the little packs fast food places have, and carry them along. Works like a charm.
Oral or topical?
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Old 05-10-2019, 04:21 PM
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After some negative reports on quinine, the FDA went after the OTC leg cramp pills in 1994. You can still get them with an Rx if you have malaria. Similarly there are limits on it in tonic water. Putting it below theraputic levels. I.e., the water's probably helping more than the quinine.

You should presume that any "medicine" saying it helps cramps or some such with quinine nominally in it is homeopathic and therefore no help at all.

If you are reasonably hydrated, not consuming stuff that is known to cause cramps (like Earl Grey Tea which has bergamot), and still get cramps ... go see a doctor.
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Old 05-10-2019, 04:26 PM
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Another vote on the quick stretches. I'm also finding regular daily stretching mostly prevents them from happening in the first place.
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Old 05-10-2019, 07:32 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kayaker View Post
Oral or topical?
Oral. Not sure about the chemistry or why it works, but everyone I've told about it has had it do the trick.
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Old 05-10-2019, 07:33 PM
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Oh, oops. I assumed you meant rectally and now I made a mess
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Old 05-10-2019, 07:43 PM
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Take a b-complex vitamin. Gallons of water.
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Old 05-10-2019, 07:51 PM
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I had bad leg cramps. I told my doctor and he said it was probably low potassium. So I've been eating bananas (around one a day) and the leg cramps have stopped.

I realize this is just one anecdote. But eating bananas to try it out shouldn't hurt you (unless you have too much potassium already).
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Old 05-10-2019, 10:47 PM
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To prevent leg cramps, I drink a glass of milk (calcium) and eat a banana (potassium) daily. Other sources of these minerals (even pills) don't help.
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Old 05-11-2019, 07:50 AM
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never heard of the mustard properties (thanks) … might be the vinegar/lemon in it? maybe should keep a vial of the stuff in the small pocket of my jeans. the number and severity of cramps increased once i reached the 50's … by the time one would hit, usually too far along for the toe-pulling to alleviate the pain.

taught myself to listen to the body … soon as i noticed a cramp just beginning to manifest itself … quickly pulled up the toes. but, soon thereafter, went even further. i would actually create prime conditions for the cramp to materialize … by extending the toes downward … just a bit, until i felt the 'tug' … and then pulled the toes back up. next iteration, would go a bit further … a bit longer.

i don't encourage others with this type of therapy … unless you have no other alternative.
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Old 05-11-2019, 09:43 AM
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The medical facts on nocturnal leg (generally calf) cramps:

1) Most common cause is 'idiopathic' (we don't know the cause).
2) After that, potential causes/associations include:
a) structural, like flat feet, hypermobility prolonged sitting, poor positions while sitting, working/living on concrete floor surfaces.
b) neurologic disorders like Parkinson's, neuropathies, radiculopathies, myopathies
c) Metabolic/electrolyte disorders such as dehydration, hypoglycemia, hypothyroidism, chronic alcohol consumption.
d) some meds are associated with increased cramping, such as long acting bronchodilators, potassium sparing diuretics, and thiazide diuretics. Also beta agonists, beta blockers (can't win either way there), ARBs, and benzodiazepines.
e) it's also associated with exercise, and peripheral vascular disease, along with iron deficiency anemia, and other anemias.

Treatment should be directed at the underlying disorder, if it can be found. But mostly it isn't found.

Other effective nondrug treatments include stretching exercises, a few minutes of bike riding before bed for sedentary types, have properly fitting shoes, don't have the sheets tucked in tight down by the feet, and stay hydrated.

Drug therapies used to include quinine, which was pretty damned effective but did cause an unfortunate number of arrhythmia related deaths for every 10,000 people using it.

Vitamin B complex tabs have been seen to be somewhat effective in some folks, same for Vitamin E, and benadryl. Prescription meds which may help include diltiazem, verapamil, and gabapentin.
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Old 05-11-2019, 11:33 AM
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Since the OP is looking for advice, let's move this to IMHO.

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Old 05-11-2019, 04:14 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by albino_manatee View Post
never heard of the mustard properties (thanks) might be the vinegar/lemon in it?
A folk remedy is to drink pickle juice, so indeed it might be the vinegar.

After hearing this, I once got a cramp while in my kitchen. I sipped a bit of vinegar and the cramp quickly disappeared. Obviously I have no idea if it was the vinegar itself or just the power of suggestion. I've never again suffered a cramp when vinegar was within handy reach.
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Old 05-11-2019, 10:26 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mind the gap View Post
I work in a machine shop, and sometimes get cramps in my hands from pulling on levers hard, repetitively. Mustard. Plain ol' yellow kind. Bicycling friends of mine stock up on the little packs fast food places have, and carry them along. Works like a charm.
I was going to mention this. I collect packets from my work breakroom and carry them on me.
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Old 05-12-2019, 05:06 AM
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According to this article from the Mayo Clinic, you could be drinking too much water. Of course, since this is a fairly recent problem, it's more likely to be one of the other listed causes of hyponatremia.
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Old 05-12-2019, 07:54 AM
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Drug therapies used to include quinine, which was pretty damned effective but did cause an unfortunate number of arrhythmia related deaths for every 10,000 people using it.
Just curious, but is quinine still effective as an anti-malarial? And if so, how?
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Old 05-15-2019, 10:05 PM
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I'm not sure if I would've just had a week without many cramps anyway, but I've been eating pickles regularly and I've not had cramping problems in the last few days, so that may have done the trick.

Is the pickle juice ridiculously salty? I was wondering if I should take shots of it occasionally after I finish the pickles for the electrolytes, but I don't want to get to unsafe salt consumption levels.

Last edited by SenorBeef; 05-15-2019 at 10:05 PM.
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