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cramp, muscles and usually


Cramp.—By this is meant the spasmodic and involuntary contractions of the muscles of the body, either those which are under the con trol of the will or voluntary muscles, or those which are not subject to the will, the involun tary muscles. As an example of cramp in the voluntary muscles may be taken those severe pains experienced iu the legs, feet, hands, and fingers; and of cramp ill the involuntary muscles, cramp of the stomach and of the bowels (colic) may be taken as examples. Cramp is attended by rigidity and pain, and usually passes off in a. brief space of time. It may be a mere symp tom in the course of some other disease, for example in cholera ; and is liable to arise when the general health is affected by indigestion, rheumatism, gout, bloodlessness, pregnancy, While it may occur in any muscle, it is most common in the muscles of the calf of the leg.. There are some persons who are peculiarly sub ject to cramp, a certain position of the limbs, for example crossing the legs, being sufficient to induce it. Many fatal accidents have occurred to bathers from their being seized with cramp of the limbs. The attack has a sudden onset, is accompanied by a rigid state of the muscle and severe pain, and is usually of a few minutes' duration, though it may last for several hours.

Treatment.— An endeavour must be made to prevent attacks of cramp by due care as regards the diet, and proper regulation of the bowels. To regulate the bowels, small doses of rhubarb with bicarbonate of soda (baking-soda) will be found very efficient, the former being given in doses of 8 to 10, the latter in doses of 12 to 20 grains.

When the attack is due to some general dis ease, such as those already mentioned, that general disease must be treated.

During an attack of cramp the affected limb should be firmly grasped, forcibly straightened, and rubbed with the hands. If friction prove unsuccessful, the part should be put in hot water and afterwards diligently rubbed with a liniment of soap and opium, chloroform, or laudanum. Cramp in the stomach is usually caused by the presence of some undigested article of food, and is a common symptom in indigestion. For its treatment, see DISEASES OF THE STOMACH.