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Causes of Muscle Cramps in the Calf While Walking

by
author image Rose Kitchen
Rose Kitchen is a freelance medical writer pursuing a bachelor's degree in sociology and education. She has a nursing background and is going back to nursing school in September 2011 for her R.N. Kitchen holds a certificate in anatomy and physiology and English and is pursuing certificates in natural and alternative medicine, fitness and nutrition and sports nutrition.
Causes of Muscle Cramps in the Calf While Walking
A cramp can be painful. Photo Credit lzf/iStock/Getty Images

Overview

A cramp occurs when a muscle is forcibly and involuntarily contracted. The muscle will not relax. The calf muscle is one of the most commonly affected muscles, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. Just about everyone will have a calf muscle cramp at sometime in their life. When these cramps occur while walking, there is usually a specific cause.

Exercise Associated Muscle Cramping

Exercise associated muscle cramping, also referred to as EAMC, can occur when exercising to fatigue, says to Cameron L. Martz of Dive Fitness. This type of muscle cramping tends to affect the muscles that stretch across two joints, including the hamstrings, calves and quadriceps. The inner thigh, wrist and hand muscles may also be affected. When an EAMC cramp comes on, stretching the muscle that is cramping by contracting it against the opposite muscle is the fastest way to stop the cramp, says Cameron L. Martz of Dive Fitness. Deep massage can help to relieve any associated pain.

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Heat

Walking or exercising in the heat can cause someone to sweat more, and sweat drains minerals, salt and body fluids. When these nutrients are lost, muscles can spasm, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. If electrolyte depletion or dehydration occur, the patient should replace the depleted electrolytes and fluids as soon as possible.

Peripheral Neuropathy

Peripheral neuropathy is a condition in which the nerves that send information to and from the spinal cord and brain do not work properly, according to Medline Plus. This condition can be caused by a number of things, with some of the most common being diabetes, cancer, dietary deficiencies, inflammation or infection, and some medications, such as chemotherapy. Patients with this condition often experience tingling or numbness, nerve pain, burning sensations, muscle twitching or cramping, loss of muscle tissue, decrease in dexterity and lack of muscle control. Treatment most often involves identifying and treating the underlying disease or condition causing it, helping the patient maintain as much independence as possible and controlling the symptoms. Occupational therapy, physical therapy and mobility devices can also be beneficial.

Spinal Stenosis

This condition is characterized by one or more spinal areas becoming narrowed. When the lumbar area of the spine, or lower back area, becomes narrowed calf muscle cramps and pain can occur when the patient is walking or standing for prolonged periods of time, according to the Mayo Clinic website. The cramping and pain typically gets better when the patient sits down or bends forward. The pain can be relieved by anti-seizure medications, antidepressants and opioids if over-the-counter pain medications are not effective. Physical therapy and corticosteroids may also help to control the pain and other symptoms.

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References

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