ATTENTION PLEASE: As I first noted at the bottom of this post, commenters may not recommend any medications including over the counter meds. I have just removed all references to magnesium - in a couple of cases, the entire comment regarding how magnesium works on cramps. It very well may work, but there are side effects depending on dosages and it can interact negatively with other meds. So the rule for this blog stands: you may not recommend in any way, any medication. It will be deleted.
Surely you have been hit with a charley horse more than once – that sudden muscle spasm in a leg, arm, foot, hand, fingers or toes that can cause excruciating pain.
According to the Mayo Clinic, age increases risk of muscle cramps because as old people lose muscle mass, remaining muscle can more easily become overstressed.
From time to time throughout life I've been afflicted with horrible muscle cramps. If in my legs and/or feet, I've found that walking heavily, putting a lot of extra pressure on my feet as I walk will help to a degree.
Most of all, however, the best remedy has been a hot bath – really irritating when a cramp has wakened me in the middle of the night and I just want to sleep.
Last Friday, I spent an entire day fighting cramps in my hands and fingers, toes and feet, arms and lower legs – all at once. It was the biggest, longest bout of muscle cramps I can recall enduring. The two hot baths I took helped for about ten minutes each.
The pain was terrible – it was towel-biting time to avoid screaming and it sent to me to the internet to look for information.
At the Mayo Clinic, Harvard Medical School, Medical News Today and some other reputable healthcare websites I learned that no one in the medical community takes muscle cramps seriously (“most muscle cramps are harmless”) nor do they know much about them.
Cramps can be related to rheumatoid arthritis, muscle overuse, dehydration and might be associated with such diseases as diabetes and nerve, liver and thyroid disorders, they say.
Assuming no underlying medical cause, the suggested remedies were nothing I didn't already know – stretch the muscles, drink more water, low-impact exercise and use correct hand tools.
Oh, please. By the time you have a cramp it's too late for any of those. I was screeching in pain so I expanded my internet search beyond the reputables. Here's one I found:
Pickle juice? Although I have a couple of jars of pickles in the refrigerator, I took a pass. Then I discovered the website of Dr. David Williams who is, according to the About page:
”A medical researcher, biochemist, and chiropractor [who has a reputation] as one of the world’s leading authorities on natural healing.”
Mainly, however, the website exists to sell his supplements and like the guy in the video, he touts pickle juice to stop muscle cramps within 60 seconds. I still wasn't convinced. (The link to Dr. Williams's website is for information only and does not endorse his products.)
He also says he believes a calcium deficiency causes cramps so recommends trying a different brand of calcium, and he also suggests DMSO. But I was in extreme pain as I read his webpage and I needed help right away so this caught my eye:
”A doctor by the name of Donald Cooper discovered a technique you can use to put a stop to a sudden cramp or spasm,” writes Dr. Williams. “He says it works 90 percent of the time. Dr. Cooper describes the technique:
"'At the first sign of muscle cramping, take a good, firm hold on the upper lip between the thumb and index finger, maintaining constant pressure. The cramping will stop or fade away, usually within 20 to 30 seconds, although sometimes it may take longer. I often pinch for a total of two or three minutes. Don't knock it until you've tried it.'”
“Oh pshaw,” she said to herself. But even though the cramps had been going on for several hours, I firmly grabbed my upper lip with thumb and forefinger.
And folks, to my utter shock and dismay, it worked. In less than a minute the cramping had stopped. When, ten or 15 minutes later, it started up again the lip grab did the job once more. And there was no more cramping that night.
To give you an idea of how severe the cramps were, my bicep and calf muscles still ache four days later although they're steadily improving.
I know this remedy sounds crazy. I don't want to believe it and part of me still thinks it is a coincidence or some kind of self-suggestion born of horrendous pain. But as weird as it appears to be, the cramping did stop, essentially immediately.
IMPORTANT NOTE: I suspect some of you will have some odd home remedies for minor health issues that have worked for you. That's good, include them below.
But you may not claim cures for diseases or conditions, nor recommend any medication, prescription or otherwise, nor link to any websites.