Muscle Pain (Cramps and Strains) - Dr Shreedhar Archik

Dr Shreedhar Archik - Orthopedics Surgeon Mumbai Dadar

Muscle cramps occur in both adult and pediatric groups and the causes are different. Let us look at the pediatric group first.

What is muscle pain?

When your child complains of pain in the arm or leg muscles it is usually from a muscle cramp or strain. This type of pain is usually not caused by a specific injury. Muscle pain often follows vigorous or excessive exercise (overuse).

What is the cause?

There are two main causes of muscle pain. Brief muscle pain is usually due to a cramp. Foot or calf muscles are especially prone to cramps that can awaken a child from sleep. Continuous pains are usually due to strenuous activity (muscle overuse) or forgotten muscle injuries during the preceding day. Both of these normal pains have been incorrectly referred to as growing pains. The third cause may be due to severe calcium lack in the diet. A growing child needs lot of calcium in the diet.

How can I take care of my child?

Treatment for muscle cramps

Muscle cramps occur in a third of all children. During attacks, stretch the painful muscle by pulling the foot and toes upward as far as they will go to break the spasm. Massaging the painful muscle with an ice pack is also very effective. Future attacks may be prevented by daily stretching exercises of the heel cords (lean forward at the ankles with the knees straight).

Treatment for strained muscles

Massage the sore muscles with ice for 20 to 30 minutes. Repeat this 3 or 4 times a day for 2 days. If the muscles are still stiff on the third day, have your child take a hot bath for 20 minutes and gently exercise the hurt muscle under water. Give acetaminophen (paracetamol) for the pain.

What is a healthy way to feel and deal with cramps?

Call immediately if

  • The muscle pain is severe AND persists more than 2 hours after your child takes pain medicine.
  • A joint becomes swollen.
  • Your child starts acting very sick.
Call during office hours if

  • The pain persists more than 7 days.
  • You have other concerns or questions.
Finally discuss the requirement of calcium for your child with your doctor and if required get a prescription for calcium supplements.

Adults

Lot of Indian ladies suffer from cramps because of lack of vitamin E. Consult your doctor to find out whether you need a vitamin E supplement. It is useful to remember that excessive intake of vitamin E can be harmful and therefore vitamin E should be taken only under supervision. All cramps are not due to vitamin E deficiency and some require drugs like quinine sulphate also (an anti malarial drug of older times). Some individuals suffer cramps due to dehydration in hot and humid whether. Dehydration can also occur during a workout in a gymnasium if proper fluid intake is not followed.
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