Understanding Muscle Cramps

A question heard often by orthopedic care providers is why a patient gets muscle cramps. They can wake you out of a dead sleep or cause you misery during activity. Legs, feet, thighs, hands, and many other areas of your body can suffer these painful nuisances. Here’s what you should know about muscle cramps.

Orthopedic_CareMineral Deficiencies

At some point as you were experiencing a bad muscle cramp you may have heard someone tell you to eat a banana. The reason behind this is that bananas contain potassium, and low levels of potassium may be responsible for your cramping. Magnesium is another mineral you need to ward off muscle cramps. If your orthopedic care doctor suspects a mineral deficiency as the culprit behind your cramps, he or she may recommend a supplement or advise you to eat certain foods. While bananas are the old wives tale, there are far better selections for a potassium-rich food, such as potatoes (including sweet), spinach and Swiss chard, avocados, and orange juice. For magnesium sources, look again to spinach and Swiss chard. Also consider pumpkin seeds, baked beans, sesame seeds, and cashews.


Lack of adequate fluid in the body is also related to mineral deficiencies as mentioned above. When a patient hasn’t taken in enough fluids, he or she is very likely to suffer serious muscle cramping, especially in hot weather or when exercising. Certain medications like diuretics will purge fluids from the body, making the problem worse.

Circulatory Problems

Many people who have inefficient veins in the legs know the misery of regular leg cramps. When blood flow isn’t optimal, the muscles and tissues are not getting enough oxygen, resulting in cramps and spasms. This can be made worse when walking, a situation known as claudication.

Poor Athletic Practices

Last but not least, overexerting a muscle, failing to stretch properly before vigorous exercise, and not taking in enough fluid during activity will contribute to muscle cramping.

If you experience regular cramping, talk to your orthopedic care professional for guidance on reducing the problem. The answer might be simpler than you think!

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