Leg cramps at night – nocturnal leg cramps – are pains that occur during the sleeping hours. They can cause a person to wake up and occur at night due to prolonged hours of inactivity. Nocturnal leg cramps commonly occur in the calf but can also cause pain in the thighs and feet. Pain due to leg cramps at night can last for mere seconds or for several minutes. After the leg cramp passes, muscle soreness may linger for the rest of the night or even until the following day. Both men and women can experience leg cramps and they occur more commonly in adults over the age of 50.
NIGHT LEG CRAMPS IS NOT RESTLESS LEG SYNDROME
Nocturnal cramps and RLS are both at night, but are different. Many things make them different like:
– RLS has no pain and cramps
– RLS is discomfort in legs
– RLS makes no need to move legs, and nocturnal cramps limit movements
– Moving in RLS gives relief, and cramps block moves
RISK FACTORS AND CAUSES OF LEG NIGHT CRAMPS
The exact cause of nocturnal leg cramps is often unknown, but potential causes and risk factors of nightly leg cramps include:
– Sitting for prolonged periods of time
– Overexertion of the muscles in the leg
– Standing or working on concrete floors
– Sitting improperly
Medical conditions, too, can contribute to nocturnal leg cramps, such as:
– Parkinson’s disease
– Neuromuscular disorders
– Structural disorders like flat feet
– Endocrine disorders like diabetes
– Diuretics, statins, beta agonists
TREATING AND PREVENTION
Treating this always depends. If the cramp is from dehydration, get more water. Other ways are:
– Horse chestnut for better blood flow
– Relaxing bath before sleep
– Heat pad
– Acupuncture to loosen muscles
– More Mg and potassium
– Stretching legs before sleep
– Water workouts
– Ergonomic shoes
WHAT TO DO NEXT
When a nocturnal muscle cramp strikes it can nearly leave you paralyzed. Knowing how to properly handle an attack will offer you relief and leave you less sore afterwards. Here are some tips to better handle nocturnal leg cramps.
– While sitting on the floor extend both legs out in front of you. Now flex your feet at the ankles and point your toes toward your knees – you may want to tug on your feet to offer an even better stretch.
– Get up slowly and walk around a bit – shaking your legs can also improve blood flow.
– Gently massage the area in a circular motion.
– Ensure blankets and sheets are not tight enough to make the leg muscle contract.
– Take a tablespoon of yellow mustard to relieve discomfort.