Night leg cramps affect many people, regardless of gender or age, although people over the age of 50 are the most vulnerable.
Night leg cramps and nocturnal leg cramps are two words for the pain that arises in the calf or feet and lasts for many seconds or minutes, frequently at night.
When the excruciating agony goes away, the muscles are still not entirely relaxed and can be bothersome throughout the night or even the next day.
This symptom is sometimes confused with restless leg syndrome (RSL), however the only thing they have in common is that they both occur at night. On the other hand, they differ in a variety of ways, including:
- in the case of RLS, moving the leg will bring relief, and in the case of leg cramps, moving the leg will cause pain, so you should stretch it
- you want to move your leg in the case of RLS, but you avoid movements in the case of leg cramps
- unlike the RSL, night leg cramps cause cramps and pain
- in the case of RLS, you experience a feeling of crawling and soreness in your legs
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Reasons for Leg Cramps at Night
The actual reason for the occurrence of leg cramps has not been confirmed yet, but we are aware of the potential causes and risk factors which can lead to this condition:
- inadequate sitting
- long periods of sitting
- long periods of standing, or working on concrete floors
- over exhaustion of muscles
- Moreover, leg cramps can also result from certain medical conditions, like:
- body dehydration
- disorders of the endocrine system (for instance, diabetes)
- neuromuscular disorders
- Parkinson’s disease
- diuretics, beta agonists, statins
- structural disorders (for instance, flat feet)
Leg cramps — prevention and treatment
The treatment of leg cramps must start from the reason for leg cramps. Therefore, leg cramps result from dehydration, you need to hydrate your body properly.
This condition can be prevented and relieved in a number of ways, including:
- acupuncture, in order to relax muscles
- consume sufficient amounts of magnesium or potassium, as muscle cramps can be caused by mineral deficiency as well
- apply a heating pad on the affected parts
- before going to bed, stretch
- it is advisable to use horse chestnut since it enhances the blood flow in the body
- in order to relax the tense muscles, enjoy in a warm, soothing bath before sleeping
- do water exercises to build the muscles on the legs
- always try to wear comfortable shoes, and do not wear high heels often
What to do in the case of muscle cramps:
During the night, when you experience leg cramps, you feel like paralyzed, so you need to know what to do in order to aid yourself and relieve the pain as soon as possible.
These are some useful tips:
- get up from the bed and try to move the leg, shake it or walk a little bit, in order to stimulate the blood flow.
- take a tablespoon of yellow mustard
- you should massage the leg in circular motions
- always note that your sheets and blankets are not too tight, in order to prevent leg cramps
- stretch well- sit on the floor and put the legs in front of you. Then, flex your feet at the ankles and point the toes towards the knees. Pull your feet.