There are many reasons for muscle spasms. Some causes are trauma-induced, some are early signs (or occasionally latent signs) of a disease, some are deficiency related. Some spasms are sudden, acute and temporarily debilitating, while others can have a slow onset, and so mild you don’t even know they are there at the beginning, gradually worsening and becoming chronic.
The “Charlie horse” type cramps are mostly deficiency related. They can be a result of dehydration, electrolyte/mineral imbalance or circulation related. Adequate water is essential in controlling these cramps. Hydration throughout the day (half your body weight in ounces per day), with minimal at night (to prevent bathroom sleep disruptions) is crucial. Dehydration is a common side effect of diuretics.
When the cramps are at night, at rest, it is often a calcium deficiency. Since calcium carbonate is very difficult for the body to absorb, calcium lactate is the preferred form of calcium. Combined with magnesium lactate it is even better. It is important to include a fat when you take calcium to help it get into the tissues better (like a quality fish or coconut oil). Also, taking Vitamin D helps.
Electrolyte balance is important, however, most electrolyte drinks are garbage – they are full of sugar and colorants and aren’t balanced. A quality one can help. Mostly you need sodium, potassium, calcium and magnesium. A poor diet has insufficient amounts of these minerals and some things, like coffee, alcohol and sugar, can strip these important minerals from your tissues.
Cramps during exercise are often a sign of struggling circulation. Good circulation is important for preventing cramps and spasms and for obvious reasons. Good circulation starts with sufficient hydration, exercise, and proper viscosity (thickness or thinness of blood). Excess glucose, cholesterol, triglycerides and dehydration cause thicker blood, making it more difficult for blood to make it to the tiny peripheral vessels.
Certain medications have side effects of spasms. The worst are diuretics and asthma meds, but also some meds for Alzheimer’s, blood pressure, osteoporosis and Parkinson’s have those side effects.
Diseases such as cardiovascular, kidney, neuropathy, Lou Gehrig’s Disease (ALS), Serotonin and Isaac’s Syndromes have side effects of muscle spasms. Persistent spasms that are not clearing up should be evaluated for a more serious medical issue.
Stress, lack of sleep, exhaustion, pinched nerve or other spinal misalignment are all possible reasons for muscle spasms or cramps. Getting the right assessment by a Chiropractor, Acupuncturist and a practitioner that is thorough and putting great effort into uncovering the cause of your cramps or spasms is what is needed to resolve this issue.
Acupuncture combined with nutritional therapy is perhaps the most effective means of eliminating muscle cramps and spasms from trauma, nutritional deficiencies and resolving health challenges that are necessitating suspect medications to be consumed. Handling the underlying reason for muscles and cramps is only one of the things we do to help you recover your health.
©2021 Holly A. Carling, O.M.D., L.Ac., Ph.D.