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Body Cramping With COPD

Do you know how frustrating it can be to wake up in the middle of the night with a cramp that you simply cannot get rid of? You try to do that silly hop around the room, trying to get it to go away, and nothing seems to work.

Of course, there is also cursing under the breath like the cramp is going to listen to you and just go away. It's silly, but sometimes it comes to that.

This happens to both my husband and me, and I have read that it happens to many in our community forums. The cramp doesn’t even have to be in the middle of the night or first thing in the morning. It can come at any time during the day.

For my husband, it is usually his calves or thighs. For me, in the past, it was usually my calves or the top side of my ankles. Lately, it has been either my toes or the whole top of my foot.

Those awful rib or side cramping happen when you turn a certain way or bend over. Those are the worst.

Understanding and treating muscle cramping

So, I decided to do some searching to see exactly what was going on with our bodies when this happened and the best way to treat them.

According to The Mayo Clinic, there are many reasons that you could have cramping. It seems to occur in pregnant ladies and older people more often, but most of the time, there is no known cause of cramping. In general, they are the result of tired muscles and nerve issues.1

Some other reasons can be due to:

Because of shortness of breath and tiredness, COPD can make it hard to move around and make it hard to exercise. When people with COPD don't move around as much, their muscles may be more likely to cramp. COPD may also make you more likely to get dehydrated, which is known to cause muscle cramps.

Other than the usual causes, cramping can be a result of more serious issues, and here are some examples. This is not to scare you but just to be aware if you have any of these health problems, it could be related to your cramping. Though there are many, here are just a few of them:1

  • Type 1 and 2 diabetes
  • Hyperthytoidism
  • High Blood pressure

Side cramping, or side stitch, can be caused by stress or pressure on the diaphragm muscle. Mine feel a stabbing pain near my rib cage or a sharp cramping on both sides of my abdomen. While it can feel incredibly uncomfortable, side cramps are common and not typically a cause for concern.1

How I stop my side cramps:

  • If I am running, I start walking to slow down
  • Stop the activity
  • Bend over forward
  • Press my hand inward and upward on the cramp location
  • Contract or tighten my abdominal muscles
  • Breathe through pursed lips
  • Roll-on bottle of carrier oil with lavender
  • Take a shot of pickle juice

Some ways that you can prevent cramps are to:1

  • Plan your meals around your physical activity to give yourself enough time to digest the food
  • Warm up before increasing intensity.
  • Remember to breathe
  • Stay hydrated throughout the day rather than trying to compensate during physical activities
  • Practice belly breathing to strengthen the diaphragm muscle

A personal approach

I intended to explore rib cramping further, but my research yielded limited results. However, our editorial team's excellent article on the topic proved highly informative. You can find it here.

How do you deal with cramps, or what usually works for you? My husband has tried everything but prefers the roller bottle of lavender oil. COPD patients with chronic muscular cramps should visit a doctor. They may assess you, adjust medications if needed, and provide pain management suggestions.

Please share with us your tips or comments below.

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The COPD.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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