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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.
Cramps can be caused by having:
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
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?’
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
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
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 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
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:
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
Why? Because they can contain calcium, iron, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, Vitamin D and magnesium – all of the nutrients that can help prevent cramping.15
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
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
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:
Plus, there are these home remedies too:
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.
Last updated: 26 April 2021
Joined Holland & Barrett: Apr 2019
Masters Degree in Toxicology and BSc Hons in Medical Biochemistry
Bhupesh started his career as a Clinical Toxicologist for Public Health England, advising healthcare professionals all around the country on how to manage clinical cases of adverse exposure to supplements, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, industrial chemicals and agricultural products.
After 7 years in this role and a further year working as a drug safety officer in the pharmaceutical industry, Bhupesh joined Holland & Barrett as a Senior Regulatory Affairs Associate in 2019.