One of the risks associated with McArdle’s disease is the painful cramping that can occur during moderate to intense physical activity. The exact nature of this cramping injury has not been investigated, but clinically it shares symptoms with crushing-type injuries such as those sustained during falls or auto accidents.
People who have McArdle’s disease may experience injury without even consciously over-exerting themselves, for example while carrying a heavy box for a few moments. Since muscles need chemical energy to relax as well as contract, an abrupt and precipitous drop in the cell’s immediately-available energy can subject cramped muscle fibers to forces that exceed their tensile strength. This is probably what causes the injury.
Anyone who has experienced McArdle’s “cramping” knows that the cramp itself is just an indicator that the muscle has actually been injured. In addition to immediate inflexibility, swelling, and pain, other symptoms such as myoglobinuria and fever may follow after one tries to extend the cramped limb and “walk off” the injury. To date, there is no treatment for McArdle’s disease, and the typical E.R. treatment for these cramping injuries usually involves intravenous saline and pain relievers. The more unlucky individuals wind up being treated for impaired renal function.
Another problem with these injuries is the difficulty regaining strength and flexibility in the injured areas. ?To date, the medical world cannot successfully regenerate muscle cells in a therapeutic application for humans, but there is promising research on the horizon. Until then, people who have sustained repeated muscle injuries have to make do with what they have.
What People with McArdle’s Disease Can Do About It
- Be Fit
Most clinical research on McArdle’s disease suggests that a regimen of disciplined, regular physical activity of an appropriate intensity and duration can not only improve symptoms but also make muscles less susceptible to injury.
- Be Flexible
Flexibility decreases risk of additional injury in the affected area as well as other areas which may be secondarily weakened by that inflexibility. For some people with McArdle’s disease, stretching following walking offers immediate and dramatic pain relief.
- Be Aware, Be Patient and WARM UP
It’s very easy to over-do it and get an injury quickly without even realizing it. ?Be conscious of your energy levels, your blood sugar, your heart rate, and your general feeling of wellness. Don’t avoid physical activity altogether, but when undertaking anything remotely strenuous understand that you do not have the luxury of being able to rush things. Take your time and get properly warmed up.Once you’re warmed up, stretch periodically.
McArdle’s disease doesn’t have to leave you sedentary and in pain.The more you know and do, the better off you are.