A muscle cramp is a strong, painful contraction or tightening of a muscle that comes on suddenly and lasts from a few seconds to several minutes. Pain caused by cramps is one of the worst things that can happen, especially at night. It slows us down, it hurts and it hinders our progress.
Legs cramp often come out of nowhere, and people who are trying to get in shape know just how often this particular type of pain can show up.
What Causes Leg Cramps?
Muscle cramps happen when a muscle involuntarily contracts on its own. Usually, you feel a hard lump at the point of pain — that’s the contracted muscle. Cramps don’t usually occur for any reason, though. Sometimes, leg cramps could just mean that you are not getting enough water or specific nutrients, but in other cases, leg cramps could be an indicator of much more serious problems, like a kidney infection.
Find Below how you can get rid of and avoid one of the worst kind of pains – leg cramps.
Leg Cramps at Night, Different From Restless Leg Syndrome
Restless leg syndrome (RSL) can be a temporary problem (such as during pregnancy) or a chronic, long –term issue. It can develop from several medical conditions and genetic risk factors. The nocturnal leg cramps and the RSL mostly happen during the sleep, and this is the only resemblance between these two ailments. The remaining features of the leg cramps and the restless leg syndrome are mainly different, and here are some of the differences:
- the RLS is more of a feeling of soreness or crawling feeling in the legs
- unlike the nocturnal leg cramps, the RSL does not induce pain or cramps
- if you move your leg while you experience RLS, you will be relieved, and if you move your leg while you experience a leg cramp, you will not, and instead moving, you should stretch it
- the RLS makes you want to move the legs, and the night leg cramps make you avoid movement
Causes And Risk Factors of Leg Cramps at Night
Despite the fact that what exactly causes the nocturnal leg cramps is still a mystery, there are potential causes and several risk factors that might trigger the leg cramps, such as:
- over-exertion of the leg muscles
- sitting for a long periods of time
- sitting inadequately
- standing for a long time or working on concrete floors
However, there are also some medical conditions that might be the cause of the leg cramps, including:
- neuromuscular disorders
- endocrine disorders (diabetes for example)
- structural disorders (flat feet for example)
- Parkinson’s disease
- Statins, diuretics, beta agonists
Treatment And Prevention For Nocturnal Leg Cramps
How are you going to treat the nocturnal leg cramps really depends on the reason that caused them. Therefore, if dehydration is the reason of the night leg cramps, then you should make sure that you are taking enough liquids throughout the day. However, here is a list of some other recipes, treatments and preventative methods that will relieve the night leg cramps:
- make sure you consume enough potassium or magnesium, because lack of these minerals can often cause this problem
- participate in water exercises in order to build leg muscles
- place a heating pad on the affected area
- try acupuncture and loose the tightness from your leg muscles
- use horse chestnut, because it has been proven to improve the blood flow in the body and in the legs
- make sure your shoes are comfortable and ergonomic, and avoid wearing high heals
- take a warm, relaxing bath before going to bed and release the tightness from the muscles
- stretch before going to sleep
What to do When Cramps Occur
If a night leg cramp strikes you in the middle of the night, the chances that you feel almost paralyzed are great. That is why you should know how to handle them and how to find the relief and reduce the soreness afterwards. You can make use of some of these tips:
- take a tablespoon of yellow mustard, since it helps in relieving the discomfort
- get up from the bed and try walking around for some time. You should also shake your legs so that the blood starts flowing better
- sitting on the floor, extend your legs in front of you, and flex your feet at the ankles. Then, point your toes toward your knees and pull your feet in order to get a better stretch
- massage the affected area gently, making circular motions
- see whether the blankets and the sheets are loose enough and they do not make the leg muscles contract
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