These cramps mostly occur in the calf muscles but can also occur in the thighs or feet. Learn about leg cramps at night and how to stop them
Leg cramps during the night usually cause restless awakenings. These cramps most often occur in the calf muscles, but they can also occur in the thighs or feet. Nocturnal leg cramps are very painful and cause a feeling of tightness or muscle spasm. Symptoms may last from several seconds to several minutes, and there may also be muscle pain after the spasm has gone away.
Nocturnal leg cramps cause some pain and discomfort and may lead to other problems. Cramps can disrupt sleep and disrupt a person’s sleep cycle, which can make them feel tired or lethargic the next day. Leg cramps can make it difficult to sleep, and this can lead to problems like insomnia over time.
Leg cramps at night and how to stop them:
What is the difference between nocturnal leg cramps and restless legs syndrome?
Although both types of leg disorders tend to occur at night or while resting, restless legs syndrome does not cause severe pain and cramping.
Although restless legs syndrome may not be painful, it is more annoying because it leads to the urge to move the legs. During movement, the disturbance decreases but returns when the movement stops. This does not happen with nocturnal leg cramps, where tight muscles need to be tensed effectively in order to get relief.
Who is most likely to get nocturnal leg cramps?
Although anyone can develop nocturnal leg cramps, the number of people who develop them increases with age. The percentage of women who experience nocturnal leg cramps is also slightly higher than the percentage of men.
About 40% of pregnant women experience nocturnal leg cramps, and 50 to 60% of adults do.
What are the causes of leg cramps?
The causes of nocturnal leg cramps are often unknown, but they have been linked to muscle fatigue and nerve problems. There are a number of conditions that may have an effect, including sitting for long periods or sitting incorrectly, and standing or working on concrete floors for a long time which leads to muscle strain.
Sitting or lying down in a certain way may restrict movement or blood flow to the legs, such as squatting or crossing the legs, which can trigger cramps.
Muscle fatigue is the main cause of leg cramps. Athletes are more likely to develop leg cramps after performing above normal levels of activity. Also, stress, such as exercising intense muscles for a long time, may cause some people to have more cramps later in the day.
Nocturnal leg cramps have also been linked to certain medical conditions, including narrowed arteries and circulatory diseases, narrowing of the spinal canal in the lower back, which can put pressure on nerves that travel to the legs, pregnancy, dehydration, Parkinson’s disease, kidney and liver failure, and peripheral neuropathy. . . . and endocrine disorders.
Certain medications, such as diuretics, blood pressure medications, and dialysis, may cause nocturnal leg cramps.
Are tests necessary to evaluate nocturnal leg cramps?
A doctor usually only needs a medical history to diagnose nocturnal leg cramps. The doctor may ask questions such as:
When do you experience leg cramps and how often do they occur?
How would you describe your leg pain?
How long does the pain last?
What medications are you currently taking?
What are your known medical conditions?
Routine blood tests do not help diagnose nocturnal leg cramps, but they may help identify previously undiagnosed medical conditions. A physical exam and other tests may be done to help identify other causes of muscle cramps.
How to overcome the pain of nocturnal leg cramps?
Stretching a badly injured muscle is usually the most effective way to relieve a spasm, by flexing the foot upwards to lengthen the muscle. You may be able to relieve the spasm by walking, rocking, or massaging your leg. A warm shower may also be helpful.
Taking non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen or aspirin will not help relieve cramps, because cramps are not associated with inflammation. It may help relieve pain from cramps, but it will not relieve cramps.
A trial of a vitamin B12 complex may be helpful, but some researchers say there is not enough evidence at this time to recommend the use of analgesics, antiepileptic drugs, magnesium, or vitamin E to reduce nocturnal leg cramps.
How can nocturnal leg cramps be prevented?
Drinking plenty of water to stay hydrated will help prevent nocturnal leg cramps. A simple leg stretch before bed also reduces the likelihood of developing cramping.
Some people feel that they do not have as many cramps if they do some light exercise at the end of the day. This may include activities such as walking or walking