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How do you stop hand cramps?

Male and female stretching in outdoor environment
How do you stop hand cramps? What causes them? And what can you do to prevent them? We explain all in this article…

Have you ever had a cramp in your feet, toes or your legs? If you have, then you’ll know it takes a minute or two for it to go away.

But when it does, it means you can feel your feet, toes or legs again, and you can stand up, wriggle your toes and walk again. When you’ve got cramp, you know about it, especially hand cramps, especially if you’re driving, writing, typing or using your hands at the time.

Cramps in hands can happen just as much as cramps in other parts of our body. They can range from being bearable to extremely uncomfortable, to sporadic or chronic. When hand cramps happen, it means you usually can’t clench your fingers and make a fist or bring your fingers together.

Hand cramps aren’t classed as being dangerous. But it’s still worth taking note of them because they may be a sign of a wider health issue that could potentially be happening within your body. And when it comes to stopping them, understanding these issues goes hand-in-hand with helping prevent hand cramps.

What causes cramps in the hands and feet?

Cramps can be caused by having:

  • Low magnesium levels

Magnesium is a mineral that contributes to bone health and muscle relaxation. It’s also linked to helping prevent muscle cramps (this includes hand cramps), as well as restless leg syndrome and eye twitches. Being low in magnesium can also potentially cause PMS-related cramping too.1

  • A lack of water in our system

Not drinking enough water can result in us becoming dehydrated. And being dehydrated can prevent the body from working properly. For instance, dehydration can mean our muscles don’t function as well as they usually would, and cramping kicks in.2

Not sure if you’re drinking enough water? Read, ‘How much water should I be drinking each day?’

  • Poor circulation

When the right level of blood isn’t flowing around our body, this can cause circulation issues, which can then lead to pain, tingling, numbness, stinging or throbbing in our hands, arms or legs. Good circulation is what enables blood and nutrients, not to mention, oxygen go to all of the different parts of our body.3

  • Carpal tunnel syndrome

Happens when the nerve that goes from the forearm to the palm is compressed. The nerve can be found inside the carpal tunnel, which is where the flexor retinaculum, tendons and the bone just below the hand are. The tendons can become swollen or irritated, which can cause a burning or tingling sensation in the palm and fingers and reduced grip.4

  • Rheumatoid arthritis

Can potentially cause cramps throughout the body, including hand cramps. This autoimmune disease attacks the joints and causes inflammation that then makes joint tissue thicken. It’s not uncommon for people with this form of arthritis to get cramps in their hands, as well as their feet, ankles, knees, wrists and elbows.5

  • Kidney disease

Kidney disease can cause cramps, due to fluid and electrolyte imbalances, blood flow issues and nerve damage. Leg cramps are one of the more common symptoms of kidney disease.6

What vitamin is good for hand cramps?

No one single vitamin or mineral is thought to help with hand cramps. However, research has found potassium and sodium can possibly help prevent muscle cramps. Meanwhile, being deficient in magnesium (which we mentioned a bit further up), Vitamin D and certain B vitamins have been found to potentially contribute to cramping too.7

You could take a supplement to up these levels. Or you could eat certain nutrient-packed food that’s believed to help with muscle cramp. If you like the sound of this solution, take a look at this list of 10 anti-cramp foods below:

10 foods that may help with muscle cramp

  1. Avocados

Why? They contain potassium and magnesium, which act as electrolytes and help with muscle health. Our bodies need electrolytes to perform critical functions, such as muscle contraction. When they’re out of sync, symptoms, such as cramping, can happen.8

  1. Sweet potato

Why? They happen to contain potassium, calcium, and magnesium, which are all minerals that play a key role in muscle function. Just 200g of sweet potato contains more than 20% of the recommended daily allowance and almost 13% magnesium.9

  1. Watermelon

Why? Is made up of 92% water, which can help with staying hydrated and preventing dehydration that can prevent your muscles from contracting. When this happens, it can cause cramping to take place.10

Handpicked content: Five health benefits of watermelon.

  1. Coconut water

Why? Just like avocado, is packed full of electrolytes. It’s also a good source of calcium, potassium, sodium, magnesium and phosphorus, which can all reduce/prevent cramping.11

  1. Bone broth

Why? As broth is a liquid, it can help with hydration levels. More specifically, bone broth is an excellent source of magnesium, calcium and sodium, which may help prevent cramping.12

  1. Salmon

Why? It’s a rich source of protein, healthy anti-inflammatory fats and other nutrients that may help prevent muscle cramps, including B vitamins, potassium, magnesium, and phosphorus. It also contains Vitamin D, which is vital for muscle function too.13

  1. Fermented food

Why? Tend to contain high levels of sodium and other nutrients that may help reduce muscle cramps. Certain fermented food, such as sauerkraut and kimchi, are packed full of electrolytes too.14

  1. Sardines

Why? Because they can contain calcium, iron, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, Vitamin D and magnesium – all of the nutrients that can help prevent cramping.15

  1. Smoothies

Why? First up, they’re hydrating. Secondly, depending on what you put in them, they contain vitamins and nutrients that support your muscles and enable them to function properly. Good cramp-fighting smoothie ingredients include: frozen berries, almond butter, Greek yoghurt (more on this below) and spinach.16

  1. Greek yoghurt

Why? It contains all sorts of nutrients, such as potassium, phosphorous and calcium, which all have electrolyte functionality within our body. What’s more, Greek yoghurt is full of protein, which is needed for the growth and repair of muscle tissue.17

What else can you do to prevent hand cramps?

So far, we’ve mentioned looking into whether or not cramping may be a sign of a wider health condition, with a view to then hopefully solving the issue. You can also make sure you’re not deficient in certain nutrients and vitamins and, if you are, increasing them via the supplement route or food.

Last, but not least, these measures can also help prevent hand cramps18:

  • Stretching
  • Avoiding dehydration
  • Practicing muscle strengthening exercises
  • Taking part in low impact exercises, such as cycling, swimming or walking
  • Using the correct hand tools to avoid exerting excessive force

Plus, there are these home remedies too:

  • Stop doing any activities that make your hands cramp
  • Massaging or rubbing the muscles
  • Applying heat or cold to your hands/muscles

Stopping hand cramps comes down to what’s causing them. You may find it’s one thing in particular or several factors that are contributing to them. If you’re experiencing hand cramps and are concerned about them, speak to your GP as soon as possible, who will be able to help you identify the cause and best solution for you.

Sources

  1. https://www.healthline.com/health/hand-cramps#causes
  2. https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/remedies-for-hand-cramps
  3. https://www.everydayhealth.com/news/unusual-signs-of-dehydration/
  4. https://www.healthline.com/health/hand-cramps#causes
  5. https://www.arthritis-health.com/types/rheumatoid/hand-pain-and-rheumatoid-arthritis-ra
  6. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/kidney-disease/symptoms/
  7. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/foods-that-help-with-muscle-cramps
  8. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/foods-that-help-with-muscle-cramps
  9. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/foods-that-help-with-muscle-cramps
  10. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/foods-that-help-with-muscle-cramps
  11. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/foods-that-help-with-muscle-cramps
  12. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/foods-that-help-with-muscle-cramps
  13. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/foods-that-help-with-muscle-cramps
  14. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/foods-that-help-with-muscle-cramps
  15. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/foods-that-help-with-muscle-cramps
  16. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/foods-that-help-with-muscle-cramps
  17. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/foods-that-help-with-muscle-cramps
  18. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/319951#home-remedies
 

The advice in this article is for information only and should not replace medical care. Please check with your GP or healthcare professional before trying any supplements, treatments or remedies. Food supplements must not be used as a substitute for a varied and balanced diet and a healthy lifestyle.
 

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