Medical Monday Nov 4 2019

This idea was started on where I would post some basic but important medical ideas relevant to the prepared citizen in an austere environment. The idea was that I would publish a new post every Monday for everyone to read. This is much easier said than done when the only equipment you have regular access to is an Iphone SE and little to no free time to publish anything. I also wanted somewhere these could be easily stored and accessed, more so than just to the people on UP. Hence why I started this blog. I will be taking requests for topics, but only on UP.

This week the topic is Muscle Cramps. These can range from mild inconvenience all the way to bed rest. Muscle Cramps are simply an involuntary, painful muscle contraction. If you have ever worked out heavily you have probably gotten them the next day. Some people get them in their sleep. They can be caused by a myriad of issues ranging from ischemia (or tissue death) of the muscle, to dehydration, and electrolyte imbalance. Pregnancy, diabetes, blood pressure medication, and nerve damage can also cause muscle cramps. The biggest offenders for most though are dehydration and electrolyte imbalance.

Fluids (most of which is water) allow our bodies to function properly, including our muscles. If you’ve ever worked a long, hard day of physical labor outside only to awake in the middle of the night with near crippling leg pain, those were muscle cramps. They are happening because you do not have enough water in your body so your muscles are not able to work properly. Heat cramps are simply muscle cramps caused by dehydration. Removal from the heat, gradual re-hydration, and massaging the affected muscles will help to alleviate this issue. But prevention is always the best medicine. Try to incorporate a work/rest cycle and insure everyone is drinking enough water. You do not want your urine completely clear, you are wasting water at this point, but a light straw color is a sign of proper hydration. Stretching is also extremely important for exercise related cramps. Before and after the activity make sure you stretch. Yoga is great for general stretching and flexibility.

Another segment to heat cramps is electrolyte imbalance. You need to make sure you are taking in enough salt and other minerals. Calcium, magnesium, and potassium deficiencies can all cause muscle cramps. Make sure you are taking in the recommended amounts of these. One gymnast found that by simply adding milk and yogurt into her diet that her muscle cramps went away entirely. Bananas are great for this but would be hard to find in the case of a collapse. Supplements are great for this. But do not over do them, because too much potassium can cause heart issues. Most of these can be found in food. Another great reason to have a garden and eat from it, collapse or not. Pickle juice and mustard both have been proven to reduce muscle cramps. And ounce of pickle juice or a teaspoon of mustard have been found to relieve muscle cramps in 1-2 minutes.

Muscle cramps or most often relatively minor, but if you are doing more physical work than normal and are reliant on your ability to do that work, cramps can hinder your ability to do regular activities. Regular hydration, proper nutrition, and stretching are all key to help relieve and prevent muscle cramps.

Next week we will be going over cold weather injuries. If you would like a say in the topics go over to and look for the Medical Monday post. But don’t forget to check out the entire forum. There is a wealth of information there.

Don’t be left bleeding out like a stuck pig, learn medical skills!

Published by MechMedic

MechMedic is the owner of Stuck Pig Medical and medical instructor for Brushbeater Training and Consulting. After 5 years in the beloved Corps, Mech joined the National Guard where he became a medic. Lifelong survivalist, and overall outdoorsman. When not being a family man, he enjoys good bourbon and good cigars.

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