We often hear of some basketball players complaining of waking up at night with severe leg cramps. This, they say, usually happens either after a strenuous workout or a hard-fought game. This problem of having sudden, painful spasms in the leg’s muscles – or leg cramps – which often occur at night is common among athletes; the condition can likewise happen to people with circulatory problems.
There are various ways to treat leg cramps. For older people who experience the condition at night (this is usually not serious), a drug – specifically a vasodilator – that goes by the generic name “cyclandelate” can bring relief. A vasodilator, as we know, is a type of drug that works by inducing the widening of the lumen of blood vessels. This is exactly what cyclandelate can do; it directly widens blood vessels in the different areas of the body including those in the brain. This results to an increased flow of blood and oxygen to the areas acted upon by the drug.
An injury to the leg’s muscle – usually from overstretching or overworking the muscle – can cause leg cramps. In other cases, the condition may be caused by a sudden constriction in one of the arteries that furnishes blood and oxygen to the muscle. When the muscle fails to receive the amount of oxygen it requires, it goes into a sudden involuntary and abnormal contraction, causing intense pain.
As a vasodilator, cyclandelate (an example is the brand name Cyclospasmol) also relaxes various smooth muscles by slowing their normal degree of responsiveness. This particular action of cyclandelate, however, does not paralyze muscle cells.
Cyclandelate has some side effects like most other drugs do. Possible ones include a feeling of weakness, headache, and rapid pulsation of the heart. Mild stomach upset is the most common side effect of cyclandelate, although this can be prevented by taking the vasodilator with food. In some cases, the drug can produce mild flushing, especially in the face and limbs.
Fortunately, many cases of leg cramps can be treated without the use of any medication. The key is to treat leg cramps gently. Avoid jumping up and down on the leg that is cramping. Do not slap the affected area. The pain can be relieved by stretching or gently massaging the muscle. Within a couple of minutes, the cramp should vanish on its own.
Cases of leg cramps that occur after exercise may have a serious underlying cause. Those who are troubled by persistent, recurring leg cramps should see their doctor at once. In all likelihood, the doctor will prescribe a vasodilator, specifically cyclandelate, to treat the vexatious condition.