This is Why Your Legs CRAMP at Night (and how to stop it from happening ever again)
Nocturnal leg cramps are the cramps that occur at night while the person sleeps. They cause pain that comes as a result of the prolonged hours of inactivity and can sometimes be so bad that the person who experiences them is actually forced to wake up. The pain usually occurs in the calf, but it can often affect the thighs and the feet.
The cramps usually last for several seconds to a few minutes. When the cramp goes away, you will feel soreness in the muscle for the next few hours or until the morning. The nocturnal leg cramps occur in both men and women and usually in people over the age of 50.
Leg Cramps at Night VS Restless Leg Syndrome
Nocturnal leg cramps resemble restless leg syndrome only in the fact that they both occur during sleeping hours, overnight. Nevertheless, there are numerous differences between them, including the following.
- Restless leg syndrome causes a desire to move the legs. Nocturnal leg cramps on the other hand often prevent movement
- When one suffers from restless leg syndrome, the movement of the legs offers relief, while the movement of the legs in case of nocturnal leg cramps does not, and you should stretch your muscles instead.
- Restless leg syndrome does not result in pain or cramping, while nocturnal leg cramps do.
- Restless leg syndrome is not a pain, but a discomfort or crawling sensation in the legs.
Causes and Risk Factors of Leg Cramps at Night
Despite the fact that no one really knows what causes nocturnal leg cramps, the potential causes and risk factors are already known. Here are some of them:
- Sitting in an improper way
- Standing or working on concrete floor
- Overexertion of the leg muscles
- Long hours of sitting
Some medical conditions can also be the cause of leg cramps, such as:
- Structural disorders, including flat feet
- Neuromuscular disorders
- Endocrine disorders, such as diabetes
- Parkinson’s disease
- Diuretic, statins, beta agonists
Treatment and Prevention for Nocturnal Leg Cramps
The treatment of nocturnal leg cramps depends on the underlying cause. For example, if the nocturnal leg cramps you experience are caused by dehydration, then you would need to make sure that you stay hydrated during the day. you can also follow these preventive measures and treatments:
- Do some water exercises so that you build leg muscles
- Practice applying a heating pad to the affected area
- Wear ergonomic shoes and avoid wearing high heels
- Try acupuncture treatment so that you loosen the tight leg muscles
- Stretch your legs before you go to bed
- Use horse chestnut, as it has been shown to boost the blood flow to the legs
- Make sure you do not lack magnesium or potassium, as the deficiencies of these minerals are related to muscle cramping.
- Take a relaxing, warm bath before you go to sleep in order to ease any muscle tightness
How to React When Cramps Occur?
When you experience leg cramps, you are almost left paralyzed. Thus, it is very important to know how to react in order to get an instant relief and feel less sore afterwards. Here are some tips you need to follow:
- Make circular motions and massage the area
- Make sure that your sheets and blankets are not too tight to make the leg muscle contract
- You can use yellow mustard to gain relief. Take a tablespoon of it and you will see the results
- Sit down on the floor and extend both of your legs out in front of you. Then, flex your feet at the ankles and point your toes toward your knees. For an even better stretch, tug on your feet
- Slowly get up and start walking around for a bit. You can also shake your legs and thus improve blood flow