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Manage Cramp with Osteopathy

Osteopathy may be able to help you manage your cramp. The mechanism behind cramps is still not totally understood. We know that muscle contractions are initiated by the nervous system. The same applies for muscles that are just “tight” too. With this in mind, current theories are that there is a misfiring signal asking the muscle to contract. It typically does not affect the whole muscle, and can cause a long contraction that can be quite painful.

Visible cramp

Known Risk Factors for Cramp


Some people are at higher risk of cramp due to their age, medication, or underlying health conditions.


Over 60s and Medication


After the age of 60, your chances of suffering from cramp increase. Unfortunately the reasoning for this is not completely understood, which hinders any preventative advice. However, we do know that stretching and hands-on treatment can give good results in this population.


Statistically, the same population is more likely to take medications that have been associated with cramps. Statins and water tablets (diuretics) are both commonly prescribed, and may be associated with more cramping. Sometimes medications can interact with each other as well, causing side effects that neither would cause on their own. You should speak to your GP or pharmacist if you suspect this is the case for you.


Exercise


Despite anecdotal evidence, there is no strong link between dehydration or electrolyte imbalance and cramps. However, cramps can be associated with sports or exercise. The theory for this is not dissimilar to the general theory explained above. The current thinking is that as exercise demands a lot of communication between nerves and muscles, part of the system becomes fatigued. This in turn causes the misfiring.


Continuing the theory, you might notice that when starting a new exercise, you have less stamina for it than when you’ve been doing it for a while. The same idea may apply to exercise related cramps. Your osteopath may suggest that you make changes to your exercise routine slowly, giving the body a chance to react and adapt to the new demand. If you have started suffering calf cramps after picking up running, you might benefit from the Couch to 5k plan.


Pregnancy


Pregnant women are more likely to suffer from cramps as their pregnancy goes on. The calf is most commonly affected, and episodes are more likely to happen at night. There are a number of potential causes for this, including:

  1. a change of demand on muscles as the centre of gravity changes

  2. hormonal changes that affect the vascular system (with similar effects to diuretic medication)

  3. changes to sleeping position

Osteopathy for Cramp


Research shows that manual therapy such as osteopathy has helped over 60s who suffer from cramps. We can also give exercises to help relieve pain during an episode.

Osteopaths cannot treat every side effect of pregnancy, but we can help to release tight muscles that are working hard to keep you upright as your bump grows. As the centre of gravity moves forwards, the calves have more work to do.


At your appointment, your osteopath will take a detailed case history. This will help them to form an accurate diagnosis and address any underlying factors. Treatment is conservative, non-invasive, and drug free.




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