Legs cramp or nocturnal leg cramps is the pain that occurs during the night while sleeping. The reason would be prolonged hours of inactivity and the pain can cause to wake up in the middle of the night. The pain can be also in the thighs and feet but it commonly occurs in the area of the calf. The duration of the pain is different sometimes can last few seconds and sometimes more even couple minutes. Muscle soreness may linger for the rest of the night or even until the following day after the leg cramp passes. Both men and women can experience leg cramps and they occur more commonly in adults over the age of 50.
Leg cramps at night, different from restless leg syndrome
During sleeping hours occur both nocturnal leg cramps and restless leg syndrome (RLS) but that is the only similarity between the two conditions. Between leg cramps at night and restless leg syndrome there are many differences, including:
- Moving the leg in RLS offers relief – moving the leg in nocturnal leg cramps does not, instead stretching is required.
- RLS is more of a discomfort or crawling feeling in your legs.
- While nocturnal leg cramps do RLS does not cause pain or cramping.
- While nocturnal leg cramps often prevent movement RLS causes the desire to move the legs.
Causes and risk factors of leg cramps at night
Often unknown is the exact cause of nocturnal leg cramps, but potential causes and risk factors of nightly leg cramps include:
- Over-exertion of the muscles in the leg
- Standing or working on concrete floors
- Sitting for prolonged periods of time
- Sitting improperly
- Medical conditions, too, can contribute to nocturnal leg cramps, such as:
- Structural disorders like flat feet
- Endocrine disorders like diabetes
- Diuretics, statins, beta agonists
- Parkinson’s disease
- Neuromuscular disorders
Treatment and prevention for nocturnal leg cramps
On what’s the cause for the cramps depends the treatment for leg cramps. For example the solution is to stay well hydrated if the reason is dehydration.
Ensure you are not deficient in magnesium or potassium – deficiencies in both minerals are linked to muscle cramping.
Before going to bed first stretch your legs,
To build leg muscles do water exercises.
Wear ergonomic shoes and avoid high heels.
Use horse chestnut, which has been shown to increase blood flow to the legs.
Before going to sleep take a relaxing, warm bath to ease any muscle tightness.
To the affected area apply a heating pad.
Try acupuncture treatment to loosen tight leg muscles.
What to do when spasms happen
It can almost abandon you deadened at the point when a nighttime muscle spasm strikes. Knowing how to properly handle an attack will offer you relief and leave you less sore afterwards. Here are a few tips to better handle nighttime leg spasms.
Amplify both legs in front you while sitting on the floor. Presently flex your feet at the lower legs and point your toes toward your knees – you might need to pull on your feet to obtain a better stretch out.
Get up gradually and stroll around a bit – shaking your legs can likewise enhance blood stream.
In a roundabout movement delicately rub the region.
Guarantee covers and sheets are not sufficiently tight to make the leg muscle contract.
To diminish discomfort take a tablespoon of yellow mustard.