It doesn’t matter whether you are a male or a female, it doesn’t matter how old are you. Nocturnal leg cramps can happen to everyone but people that suffer the most are the ones aged over 50.
The nocturnal leg cramp is a term used to describe the pain that occurs usually at night in the calf or the feet when our leg muscles are still not completely relaxed. This pain can last from several seconds to several minutes until it disappears. However, very often it doesn’t completely disappear and we can still feel a bit painful during the whole night.
There is a similar phenomenon and people often confuse the nocturnal leg cramps with the restless leg syndrome (RSL). However, the only similarity between these two is that they most often occur at night.
The few key differences are:
- In case of RLS, you can relieve yourself of the pain by moving your leg. In the case of leg cramps, moving your leg will cause even more pain, so the only recommended solution is to stretch the leg.
- Unlike the RSL, Nocturnal leg cramps cause actual cramps and sometimes an unbearable pain
- In case of RLS, you only experience a feeling of crawling and soreness in your leg
Reasons for Leg Cramps at Night
Although we still cannot pinpoint the actual reasons for the occurrence of leg cramps, we can most certainly point our finger to the potential causes and risk factors which lead to this condition:
- inadequate sitting
- sitting for long periods of time
- standing for long periods of time, or working on concrete floors
- over exhaustion of muscles
The nocturnal leg cramps can also be a result of certain medical conditions:
- endocrine system disorders (for instance, diabetes)
- Neuromuscular disorders
- Parkinson’s disease
- diuretics, beta agonists, statins
- structural disorders (for instance, flat feet)
Leg cramps — prevention and treatment
In order to be able to properly treat the nocturnal leg cramps, we must first find the actual reason that is causing them. For example, if they are a result of dehydration of the body, we must hydrate our body properly to beat them.
To prevent this condition and relieve the pain, we can try some of the following methods:
- acupuncture, to relax the tensed leg muscles
- as muscle cramps can be caused by mineral deficiency, it is recommended to consume sufficient amounts of magnesium or potassium daily
- treat the affected parts with heat – apply a heating pad
- stretch the muscles before going to bed
- enhances the blood flow in the body – the best way to do this is to use horse chestnut
- enjoy a warm, soothing bath in order to relax the muscles
- build the muscles in the legs by doing regular muscle building exercises
- always wear comfortable shoes and avoid high heels
What to do in the case of muscle cramps:
If the leg cramps catch you by surprise, you can follow some of the following tips in order to relieve yourself of the pain as soon as possible:
- Get up from the bed and try to stretch the leg, shake it or walk a little bit, in order to stimulate the blood flow.
- A tablespoon of yellow mustard can reduce the pain
- A circular motions massage can also vastly improve the condition
- Always ensure before going to bed that your sheets and blankets are not too tight
- Again, stretch well-sit on the floor and put the legs in front of you. Flex your feet at the ankles and point the toes towards the knees. Pull your feet towards you and do this until you feel a relief.