Friday, March 11, 2011

Painful Oddities

Last night I woke up with a painful charley horse in my calf (This is not the first time). As I rubbed it out and fought back my tears, I began to wonder where in the world this pain had come from. For those of you unfamiliar with charley horses, it is a leg/foot cramp that hits suddenly when the muscles contract. The pain is usually intensified if you try to stretch it because the muscles are so tightly constricted. It is usually a good idea to massage it out for a bit before attempting to stretch it out S-L-O-W-L-Y! Charley horses were my ultimate enemy during both of my pregnancies, but they hadn’t bothered me much since. So I decided it was time to do a little research. Leg cramps or charley horses are often the result of muscle fatigue, dehydration, heavy exercises, electrolyte imbalance, side effect of certain medications, and being overweight. You can easily prevent many leg cramps by simply staying hydrated, stretching often, and not overdoing your workouts. In my case, it is possible that I overdid a workout, but it is more likely that I wasn’t keeping myself hydrated enough. It is easy to let life distract you, but after last night I’ll be sure to increase my water intake!

While I was researching charley horses, I began to wonder about other minor irritations and why they occur. Canker sores, for example, bother my husband and I at least 4-5 times a year. Despite the fact that canker sores are the most common sores found in mouths, most people don’t know what they are and why they form. That is probably because doctors themselves aren’t 100% sure. Canker sores are not contagious like cold sores, so they can’t be passed from person to person. Doctors suspect that they are caused by a reaction of the immune system. So if the body has to fight off a bacterial or viral infection, you may be more likely to develop a canker sore. Stress and the overuse of anti-inflammatory medication are also contributing factors in canker sore development. Thankfully, there are many methods of treatment that can speed up the healing process. According to, “Try rinsing your mouth with a solution of ½ teaspoon salt dissolved in 8 ounces of water. Another mixture that may be helpful consists of 1-2 tablespoons of Maalox mixed with ½ tablespoon of liquid diphenhydramine (Benadryl). Swish a teaspoonful in your mouth and spit it out. This can be done four times a day. Liquids or ointments with a numbing ingredient such as benzocaine (Anbesol, Oragel, Orabase, Zilactin-B, Tanac) help relieve the discomfort of canker sores. Using these treatments won’t cure the canker sore, but they will help relieve pain and lessen the chance of reoccurrence. What other painful oddities have you baffled?

Grab a latte, put up your feet, and join the discussion!

1 comment:

blueviolet said...

My ex got those cramps all the time. What worked for him is increasing magnesium. It helps a lot!

I HATE canker sores. I get them still, but I got them all the time as a child.