Leg cramps are involuntary and sudden muscle contractions, which can occur any time of the day and can induce extreme calf muscle pain. The good news is, leg cramps and calf muscle pains are generally harmless, but can lead to temporary malfunction of the affected area.
There are numerous reasons why one may experience a leg cramp, from exercise to medications even, so uncovering your underlying cause can help with better prevention and treatment if it occurs.
Here we will explain to you the common causes of leg cramps and share some preventative tips and home remedies you can utilize so you’re not stuck in pain.
What causes leg cramps?
As mentioned, the causes of leg cramps can vary greatly. Some of the most common causes are dehydration, staying in one position for a prolonged period of time, or muscle strain. Leg cramps can also be a sign of an underlying medical condition, such as inadequate blood supply (which can be caused by atherosclerosis), nerve compression such as lumbar stenosis, and mineral depletion including a deficiency in potassium, magnesium, or calcium.
Medications – such as diuretics, oral contraceptives, and steroids – can increase the risk of leg cramps, too.
Some risk factors that increase the likelihood of experiencing leg cramps include older age, pregnancy, taking certain medications, and being dehydrated.
Leg cramps at night
Experiencing leg cramps at night is quite common, but it can be a sudden rude awakening. Risk factors for leg cramps at night are similar to leg cramps in general – the only difference is, these leg cramps are experienced during sleep time and rarely in the daytime.
Other causes of leg cramps at night include alcoholism, Parkinson’s disease, neuromuscular disorders, structural disorders like flat feet, endocrine disorders – for example, diabetes, and certain medications such as diuretics.
Leg cramps during pregnancy
The reason why pregnancy increases the risk of leg cramps is still not fully understood, but some theories suggest that fatigue from carrying extra weight, compression of blood vessels, and even a person’s diet may all be viable reasons.
Leg cramps in pregnancy can occur any time throughout the day, but may feel worse during the night. Night leg cramps during pregnancy can be worse due to peaking levels of fatigue and fluid accumulation.
Leg cramps are most commonly experienced during the second trimester of pregnancy.
Ways to prevent leg cramps during pregnancy
Some ways to prevent leg cramps in pregnancy are partaking in stretching exercises, alternating between activity and rest, wearing support hosiery, drinking plenty of fluids, wearing proper footwear, staying active, and eating well-balanced meals to ensure you’re obtaining enough nutrients to prevent deficiency.
If a leg cramp does occur, try to straighten your leg and flex your ankle towards your shin, stand on a cold surface – tiled floor, for example, apply a heat pack, and try a prenatal massage.
Leg cramps treatment and exercises
Mode of treatment for your leg cramps depends on the underlying cause of your condition. For example, you may have to consume more fluids, switch medication, or treat an artery or nerve problem.
Exercise can be an efficient way to treat leg cramps. The best are the exercises to be carried out during the cramp to stop it and relieve pain, as well as the exercises you perform regularly to reduce the risk of a leg cramp.
If you are in the middle of a leg cramp, straighten your leg and lift your foot upwards, bending at the ankle. Another exercise you can do is walk around for a few minutes on your heels.
And here’s a good exercise to prevent leg cramps. Standing away from a wall facing it, lean forward with arms outstretched and hands pressed against the wall. The soles of your feet should be flat on the floor and you should feel a gentle stretch in your calves. Hold this position for a few seconds and release. Repeat a few times.
Leg cramps home remedy
Along with regular exercises, other home remedies for leg cramps include stretches and massages, hot and cold application, regular hydration, proper footwear. Speak to your doctor about any vitamin or mineral deficiencies you may be experiencing.
Although leg cramps can be a pain, they aren’t a serious condition on their own. Preventative methods can help you reduce the risk of leg cramps and avoid the pain that they bring.
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. Continue reading…
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