Nocturnal leg cramps can be very painful. The muscles in your legs tighten up suddenly and cause a painful feeling lasting several moments before easing up.
Leg cramps that occur at night usually happen just as you are drifting off to sleep or are about to wake up. They are sudden spasms that usually occur in the calf, though they can also tighten up the muscles in the thigh or the foot.
What Causes Leg Cramps At Night?
Some causes of nocturnal leg cramps may never be known, but there are some lifestyle situations and medical conditions or drugs that are linked to the painful cramping.
Lifestyle Links To Leg Cramps
- Sitting for lengthy periods of time
- Overstraining the leg muscles with physical labor
- Standing or walking on hard concrete floors for long periods
- Sitting inappropriately
- Alcohol abuse
- Certain neuromuscular diseases/disorders
- Structural disorders
- Some diuretics, statins, or beta agonists
Easing Leg Cramps
There are a few techniques you can try to ease cramps in the leg when they occur. Some include:
- Stretching and massaging
- Taking a relaxing warm shower or bath
- Placing a heating pad on the area
- Use a cold pack
- Take over-the-counter pain medicines
- Drink lots of fluids
- Ask your physician to prescribe medication
When you are in the midst of a painful leg cramp at night, try getting up and walking around or shaking out your leg. Also stretch your calf muscles to relax the aching muscle by straightening and then flexing your foot.
Preventing Leg Cramps
It’s a good idea to stretch your muscles daily. This is especially helpful if you stretch out both before and after any kind of workout, even walking. Stretch your legs again just before going to bed.
Be sure you are taking a daily vitamin supplement and eating a diet rich in calcium, potassium, and magnesium. Drink lots of fluids, especially water, to ensure your urine is clear. Also, limit your intake of alcohol.
Riding a stationary or actual bicycle can help to strengthen and stretch your muscles.
Make note of the prescription medications you are taking. If any of them have the potential to cause leg cramps, speak with your Atlanta area physician about this issue.
Frequent Leg Cramps At Night
If you are enduring severe nocturnal leg cramps, it’s a good idea to see a specialist at The Vein Center at Johns Creek or a physician in your area to determine whether you are experiencing symptoms stemming from a venous issue in the legs. William H. Johnson, M.D. is a vein care specialist located in Suwanee, Georgia.
The Vein Center at Johns Creek in Suwanee also serves the surrounding areas of Duluth, Alpharetta, Milton, Buford, Roswell, Lilburn, Norcross, Snellville, and Dunwoody. William H. Johnson, M.D. provides patients with a comprehensive diagnosis and state-of-the-art treatments for vein disorders.
This article is not meant to take the place of professional medical advice. If you are concerned about nocturnal leg cramps that have become severe and more frequent, call our offices at The Vein Center at Johns Creek and make an appointment to discuss your issues with Dr. Johnson.