Leg cramps at night, also known as nocturnal cramps or night muscle cramps are common. Especially calf-muscle cramps contribute to the maximum number of cases of leg cramps. There are cases where people suffer from thigh cramps as well.
Leg cramps are a sudden yet painful contraction of muscles. Nocturnal leg cramps in older people and pregnant women are more common than others.
The fact is, the calf muscle is affected by leg cramps often. The pain lasts for just a few minutes, but there are times where it may last for long. By long could be as long as 24 hours. It isn’t of any medical significance or reason for concern. The common causes of leg cramps include dehydration, alcoholism or flat feet.
In this post, we shall describe the possible causes and preventive methods that can be taken to make life easier while suffering from leg cramps.
What brings on leg cramps?
To begin with, 90% of the time there is no cause or reason for leg cramps. Theoretically, the muscle tightens for an extended amount of time. The muscle contracts further and causes it to spasm or cramp. It often occurs while we’re sleeping due to our natural sleeping position – knees slightly bent and feet pointing downwards thus shortening the calf muscle.
Another cause could be due to an underlying disease like alcohol abuse, Parkinson’s disease, type 2 diabetes and much more.
How are leg cramps tested and diagnosed?
Your GP will ask you about the symptoms of when the cramps occur and examine your legs and feet. The questions are related to the severity of the pain in the legs, the time span of the pain, the location of the pain in the legs, how long it lasts and whether it is affecting their way of life in any way. They will also ask you about the other possible symptoms.
What helps cramps go away?
For a no-cause leg cramp, you’re better off without any treatment. But there are other treatments out there that you can seek, few are listed below.
- Stretching exercises – Stretch your calf muscles by straightening your leg and bending your foot backward, towards your knee.
- You can try walking on your tip toes.
- Stand about 2 feet away with your feet flat on the ground. Lean forward against the wall bending the knee of the other leg and the foot of the leg near the wall kept flat. Continue to do this at least 5 – 10 times.
If the previous option doesn’t improve your situation with leg cramps, painkillers or quinine, usually recommended by doctors in acute cases works like a charm. You need to consult your doctor first for the proper dosage of the above.
Other home remedies for leg cramps or preventive measures include –
- Stretching exercises help a majority of the time.
- Support your toes by lying on your back with your feet propped up on the pillow, lying on your front by letting your feet dangle off the bed or loose blankets or sheets to reduce the chances of your toes to point downwards.
- Drink plenty of water and other fluids. In short, stay hydrated.
- Eat food rich in calcium, magnesium, and potassium.
- Exercise daily but not extensively. Extensive exercise, if the cause was that already, can lead to a muscle cramp relapse.
What if the muscle cramps come back often?
You can contact your doctor or book an appointment here at Fairfax Urgent Care. By scheduling an appointment, our team of doctors will be able to assist you as soon as you get there. Give us a call at 703-493-0404 or you can view our contact details here.