The prevalence of muscle cramps and joint pain is more common than what the general public perceive. It can practically present itself in any situation.
A prolonged absence of physical activity, over-exertion of physical limits, and weakened body condition associated with aging are popular hangouts for these injuries.
Despite its tendency to make an introduction in unwanted situations, many people continually underestimate the risk of sustaining muscle cramps or joint pain.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides that 22.7% of American adults have been diagnosed with joint pain. It is estimated that by the year 2030, 1 in 4 American adults will have doctor-diagnosed joint pain.
In terms of muscle cramps, experts estimate that 95% of the population would have experienced spontaneous muscle cramps in their lifetime and roughly 26% will develop muscle cramps after physical activities. In a separate study, it was reported that 67% of triathletes will develop muscle cramps throughout their training.
Health professionals use the terms arthritis and joint pain interchangeably. Arthritis refers to joint inflammation presents itself in the form of pain to signal that something is wrong.
Other than inflammation, joint pain can also be caused by other factors such as injury, overweight, and excessive wear and tear. As the joints deteriorate with age, it becomes more prominent throughout the natural aging process.
Muscle cramps are caused by forceful contractions of the muscles. The foot and calf muscles are more susceptible to cramps due to their extended usage.
Other areas that can experience cramps are the thighs and abdomen where the muscle content are highly concentrated. Some of the reasons that lead to muscle contractions include dehydration, inadequate stretching, poor blood circulation and muscle fatigue.
Prevention and Treatment
Due to the preponderance of these conditions, there is an abundance of muscle cramps and joint pain information within the health industry.
Scientists were able to rely on these data to formulate effective preventive and treatment measures. While most of the suggestions below are specific to each condition, there are instances where they are effective in warding off both types of injuries.
1. Motion and Fluidity
The onset of joint pain can be caused by a prolonged period of inactivity. When the joints are not utilized adequately, it becomes stiff and limits the range of motion significantly. With the high obsessions over technology nowadays, most people have inadvertently become stuck to the chair most of the time.
To help the joints maintain its fluidity, individuals should change positions regularly or take a short walk to the kitchen during the commercials.
2. Stay in Shape
The Obesity and Metabolic Research Program in Milwaukee, Wisconsin conducted a study to establish the relationship between obesity and the prevalence of joint pain. Based on data from 4225 participants, the scientists were able draw a positive correlation between joint pain and obesity, with women more susceptible to it.
Moreover, the Snow Biomechanics Laboratory, Department of Health and Exercise Science, Wake Forest University, USA explains that for every 1kg lost, it reduces the pressure on the knees by up to 4 times. As a silver lining for overweight people, they do not need to seek alternative joint pain treatments once they have managed to shed the excess weight.
3. Stretch it Out
Much alike to machinery, the human body needs to be warmed up before it can start to operate. While tools can be changed when they become faulty, body parts do not enjoy the same luxury.
Regular stretching helps to ensure that muscles do not turn cold and the joints do not stiffen up. Light stretching exercises also help to loosen up tendons and ligaments, further reducing the risk of injury.
4. Go fish!
Fish contains high levels of omega-3 fatty acids that can help to reduce inflammation in the joints, effectively managing the level of pain. For those who do not enjoy fish, they can get the required omega-3 fatty acids in the form of fish capsules instead.
5. Stock Up on Calcium
High calcium intake is beneficial towards strengthening the bones and reducing the possibility of joint pain. Certain dairy products promote increased calcium content while health supplements with high calcium concentration are readily available as well. To incorporate calcium intake into dietary plans, kale, yogurt and salmon are suitable options.
6. Load Up on Salt
The Department of Pediatrics, Georgia Prevention Institute, USA provides that excessive water loss and extensive perspiration during physical activities leads to a large electrolyte deficit. This chain reaction is completed by the onset of muscle cramps.
The study highly recommends high salt and fluid intake before, during and after each exercise to avert any signs of muscle cramps. Individuals can choose to add small amounts of salt to their water to ensure sufficient salt intake. Alternatively, sports drinks are also formulated to quickly replenish electrolytes in the body to prevent muscle cramps.
The risk of muscle cramps and joint pain varies across individuals with different lifestyles but the severity of these conditions cannot be underestimated. Most people neglect to anticipant these conditions and often end up suffering excruciating pain while desperately searching for fast acting remedies.
Rather than being a sitting duck and tempt muscle cramps or joint pain, preventive measures should be taken to avoid being the victim. By adhering to the suggestions above, it can go a long way towards averting these conditions.