Muscle Cramps

Also called: Charley horse

Muscle cramps are sudden, involuntary contractions or spasms in one or more of your muscles. They often occur after exercise or at night, lasting a few seconds to several minutes. It is a very common muscle problem.

Muscle cramps can be caused by nerves that malfunction. Sometimes this malfunction is due to a health problem, such as a spinal cord injury or a pinched nerve in the neck or back. Other causes are

  • Straining or overusing a muscle
  • Dehydration
  • A lack of minerals in your diet or the depletion of minerals in your body
  • Not enough blood getting to your muscles

Cramps can be very painful. Stretching or gently massaging the muscle can relieve this pain.

Muscle Disorders

Your muscles help you move and help your body work. Different types of muscles have different jobs. There are many problems that can affect muscles. Muscle disorders can cause weakness, pain or even paralysis.Illustration of the muscles

Causes of muscle disorders include

  • Injury or overuse, such as sprains or strains, cramps or tendinitis
  • A genetic disorder, such as muscular dystrophy
  • Some cancers
  • Inflammation, such as myositis
  • Diseases of nerves that affect muscles
  • Infections
  • Certain medicines

Sometimes the cause is not known.

Varicose Veins

Varicose veins are swollen, twisted veins that you can see just under the skin. They usually occur in the legs, but also can form in other parts of the body. Hemorrhoids are a type of varicose vein.

Your veins have one-way valves that help keep blood flowing toward your heart. If the valves are weak or damaged, blood can back up and pool in your veins. This causes the veins to swell, which can lead to varicose veins.Photograph of a female doctor discussing medication with a female patient

Varicose veins are very common. You are more at risk if you are older, a female, obese, don’t exercise or have a family history. They can also be more common in pregnancy.

Doctors often diagnose varicose veins from a physical exam. Sometimes you may need additional tests.

Exercising, losing weight, elevating your legs when resting, and not crossing them when sitting can help keep varicose veins from getting worse. Wearing loose clothing and avoiding long periods of standing can also help. If varicose veins are painful or you don’t like the way they look, your doctor may recommend procedures to remove them.