What is a muscle cramp?
A muscle cramp happens when a muscle in the body tenses or stiffens up. Cramps are involuntary, which means your child cannot control them. A cramp comes on suddenly, without warning, and causes pain or discomfort. Your child may not be able to use the affected muscles for a short time.
Signs and symptoms of muscle cramps
sharp muscle pain
sudden muscle spasm, which is like a sudden seizure or twinge
tightening of muscles, often in the legs
a visible hard lump of muscle beneath the skin
cramps that occur in your child’s calf muscles or toes during sleep
Causes of muscle cramps
Many things can cause a muscle cramp. Children often get muscle cramps if they play or exercise in warm weather without drinking enough water.
Common causes of muscle cramps include:
Some children may have a particular medical condition that can lead to muscle cramps.
The following conditions may bring about muscle cramping:
Treatment of muscle cramps
Most muscle cramping in children is not an emergency. Simple stretching and massaging can help treat a muscle cramp. If your child gets a cramp in the calf muscle, ask him to straighten his leg and flex his foot.
You can also switch back and forth between cold compresses and warm heating pads on the affected muscle area. These treatments will usually calm the cramping after a few minutes to an hour. To prevent any dehydration, be sure to give your child lots of liquids as well.
Rest and hydrate
Heat-related illnesses are often indicated by muscle cramps, along with weakness, nausea, and vomiting. If your child has any of these symptoms, have him rest, cool off, and drink lots of liquids.
You can help your child avoid muscle cramps by offering plenty of fluids during and after playing and exercising. Urge your child to drink water or a sports drink every 15 minutes when active. Also, warn your child not to exercise too hard when it is warm or hot outside.
Encourage your child to do calf stretches before bed to prevent cramps. Ask your child to sit on the floor and stretch his legs out in front of him. Then ask your child to flex his feet, bend at the waist, and gently try to touch his toes. Your child should not point his toes.
Drinking lots of liquids
Encourage your child to drink lots of liquids throughout the day. When exercising, try to have your child drink about every 15 minutes.
When to see your doctor
if the muscle cramps do not disappear in a few minutes
if the muscle cramps are recurrent with no clear cause such as
intense exercise or injury
A muscle cramp is when a muscle in the body tenses or stiffens up.
The cramps are sharp, sudden, and involuntary.
Most muscle cramps are not an emergency. Simple stretching and massage can help.
To prevent muscle cramps, stretch before bed, drink lots of liquids, and avoid exercising too hard when it is hot outside.