Rib Cramps

#1 Guest_Eileen/MA_*

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27 January 2010 - 03:13 PM

Hi Sandy. I get rib cage cramps that are as painful as charlie horses that you get in your calves. There seems to be no rhyme or reason for them - I can get them when I'm sitting still, and nothing I do eases them. They can take my breath away with the suddeness and pain, and leave my diaphragm sore for hours after.

Do you know what causes them and what might relieve them? Thanks.

#2 Darrell

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27 January 2010 - 03:33 PM

I have had this off and on over the years and I very unscientifically associated the cramps with prednisone. My doc said to take quinine so I have an occasional gin and tonic which I find is better if I hold the gin. The tonic can be a little bitter so I usually add something, lemon juice, grenadine or whatever is available. I think it helps.

#3 Tim

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27 January 2010 - 03:51 PM

I have those same pains too. I've had it happen just walking across the floor but
most often I think it occurred when I would be reaching for something that put me
in an awkward position or getting in or out of the car. It seems like the better
shape I'm in, the less it happens. It's been awhile since I've had a really bad one.
I'd also be interested in knowing what causes them.

Just last week, my Dr suggested I try drinking Tonic Water to help the leg pain.
I hear a lot of chatter about how the quinine in the Tonic water helps with leg
cramps. I like to squeeze a slice of lime in mine. :)


#4 Sandy W

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27 January 2010 - 04:24 PM

Well lots of good convesation around these mysterious cramps...I must say that I don't know what causes them...something I can research but Prednisone and dehydration sometimes can cause the legg cramps. Some of my patiens have told me that eating a bannana each day has helped and weird as it may sound a few said that they kept pretzels by their night stand and in the middle of the night if they had a sudden cramp and they chewed on a few the cramps seemed to subside. If there is a nutritionist out there that can explain that one I would love to hear. But when they brought this information to class and a couple of the girls tried it they said WOW that works.

I think being in better shape as was mentioned also helps. Keeping your muscles moving and working will help any of your activities.

I wil look into the legg cramps and see if I can find out anything new!!

Have a great evening. I am off to bowling and going to get some of my muscles a wake up call for the day!

Sandy W RRT

#5 craigrrt

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27 January 2010 - 05:31 PM

I think there is some good medicine in some the responses I've read. I know cramps from excessive excercise can be caused by potassium depletion. This is why it is often recommended to eat a banana, or a nutritional drink prior to and sometimes during excercise. Spontaneous cramps are a different animal with answers varying to the cause. Sort of like hiccups. Some of those things Darrell suggested work for some folks while maybe not others. Try different things until you find the right trick. If cramping continues, and they interfere with daily activities and life in general, than a more serious investigation may be warranted.

#6 Guest_Eileen/MA_*

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27 January 2010 - 09:38 PM

Thanks everyone for your helpful answers. I had an especially bad one today which prompted my asking.

#7 Dee

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29 January 2010 - 09:37 AM

I found this article:

Beta-agonist: A bronchodilator medicine that opens the airways by relaxing the muscles around the airways that may tighten during an asthma attack or in COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease). Beta-agonists can be administered by inhalers or orally. They are called "agonists" because they activate the beta-2 receptor on the muscles surrounding the airways. Activation of beta-2 receptors relaxes the muscles surrounding the airways and opens the airways. Dilating airways helps to relieve the symptoms of dyspnea (shortness of breath). Beta-2 agonists have been shown to relieve dyspnea in many asthma and COPD patients. The action of beta-2 agonists starts within minutes after inhalation and lasts for about 4 hours. Because of their quick onset of action, beta-2 agonists are especially helpful for patients who are acutely short of breath but, because of their short duration of action, several doses of beta-agonists are often necessary each day. The side effects of beta-2 agonists include anxiety , tremor , palpitations or fast heart rate, and low blood potassium.


I didn't know that Beta-agonists would cause low blood potassium. It's possible one of the remedies suggested may help, Eileen.

It might even explain the muscle cramps I have been experiencing from time to time.

#8 Jane M. Martin


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29 January 2010 - 09:50 AM

For sure, an interesting conversation. They must be having a sale on muscle cramps this week! Just yesterday we were talking a lot about it at rehab.

Quinine water is recommended, and eating a banana a day to keep that potassium level where it should be. Baked potatoes are also a good source of potassium.

Sometimes when the lungs become over-inflated as they do in emphysema, they can put pressure on the rib cage. Tim mentions getting this sensation when he is in certain positions, which makes sense. Unfortunately, you can't do a lot about the size of your stretched-out lungs. Pursed lips breathing can help to prevent future air trapping.

Has anybody out there found something that safely and effectively gets rid of cramps?


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