Sometimes it’s a tingling sensation. Sometimes its pain. Whatever it is, do not ignore muscle cramps.
Your muscles, just like the rest of your body need to contract and relax to help you move around and while at rest. Muscle cramps are caused by muscles contracting or tightening on their own. Cramps often only last a few seconds but can be very painful many times. Muscle cramps can also cause problems while sleeping. Sometimes, muscle cramps during hemodialysis can be so severe that the dialysis treatment may need to be stopped.
Muscle cramps causes
While the underlying symptoms may be many, the real cause is sometimes unknown. But, suffice to say that when you are on hemodialysis treatments, cramps are more common.
Some of the possible reasons are:
- Low blood volume: This happens when you remove a large amount of fluid during your dialysis treatment. The most common cause of this is drinking a lot of fluid between dialysis treatments. It can also happen due to inadequate fluid removal during your last dialysis session.
- A problem with salts in your blood.
What muscles are affected?
The leg muscles are most often affected. Less common muscles that may cramp include the hands, arms and abdomen.
Tips to avoid cramping:
- Keep your sodium intake to 2000 mg/day.
- Keep your fluid gains to 1-3 kg between treatments, which means 1 kg=2.2 pounds=4 cups.
- Do not shorten or skip any of your treatments, by this you only make cramping worse next time.
- Read labels. Don’t eat anything with more than 400 mg of sodium per serving.
- Keep a diary of what you eat and drink to help you improve.
- Measure your drinking glasses to see how much they hold.
- Remember that weekends you have an extra day, so be more careful of sodium and fluid intake.
- Do not eat during dialysis; it pulls more fluid out of your muscles, making cramping worse.
DaVita Fluid Wise Program
DaVita’s Fluid Wise program looks critically at fluid and weight gain during and after dialysis sessions. Your nephrologist and DaVita team will monitor your vitals closely before, during and after dialysis to ensure that you have adequate time on dialysis and that your fluid removal is optimum.
Talk to your DaVita dietitian on your sodium intake and how it affects you. He / she will be able to give you a personalized diet plan based on your needs.
Talk to your DaVita Facility Administrator about the FluidWise program and its benefits.
Leg stretching to prevent cramps
- Lie face up on a bed or couch with your legs out straight.
- Gently bend knees up toward your chest leaving your feet flat on the surface of the bed or couch.
- When your feet are as close to your buttocks as you can get them with comfort, hold for 10 seconds.
- Straighten your legs and relax for 5 seconds.
- Repeat stretch again.
- Repeat 3 times during day.
- Do these before bed to help prevent night cramps.
Talk to your nephrologist about your symptoms or reach out to a DaVita teammate at 080 60006200 for an appointment.