Peripheral artery disease: Narrowing of the arteries. Learn about the causes, prevention, and treatment. There’s some evidence that dehydration promotes nocturnal cramping. This is a great treatment. Possible causes for leg cramps at night (nocturnal leg cramps) include: Drugs have side effects. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. Leg cramps can possibly be a sign of lifestyle choices such as: Leg cramps can also possibly be a sign of serious conditions including: Cancer treatments like chemotherapy can cause nerve damage, which may cause leg cramps. Salt. Policy, Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Treating leg cramps at night, in the moment they occur, may help a person get more rest. Overexertion, such as exercising the muscles very intensely for a long time, may cause some people to experience more cramping later in the day. Leg cramps, also called charley horses, are uncontrolled spasms in the muscles of the leg that may be painful. 7% of children will, as well. Cardiovascular disease: Heart conditions caused by blood clots or diseased blood vessels. The older you are, the more likely you are to have leg cramps. It can be severely uncomfortable, painful, or even unbearable. Electrolyte imbalance is the main cause of leg cramps. Nocturnal leg cramps can be very uncomfortable and cause sleep problems. Leg cramps at night, or nocturnal leg cramps, are common and can occur due to inactivity during the day, tired muscles, or certain medical conditions. As a review published in the journal BMC Family Practice notes, up to 33% of people over 50 years of age experience chronic nocturnal leg cramps. Touch the wall with your arms outstretched while keeping your feet flat. In some cases, doctors will prescribe medications to treat chronic leg cramps, including: A person should talk with a doctor to discuss these drugs and any possible side effects. Hypokalemia: Low potassium levels in your blood. 2. Lean forward. Much of the time, simple stretches may help ease the cramped muscles. Also keep in mind that if you don’t already know if you have any of these conditions, your leg cramps may be a sign that you do. To get rid of a thigh cramp, stretch your hamstring by lying flat on the ground and lifting the leg that’s cramping. Changing Your Diet Try drinking 8 fl oz (240 mL) of tonic water if stretches don’t help. Forcefully stretching the contracted muscle relieves the pain. According to a review about nocturnal leg cramps, the research available suggests that muscle fatigue is a primary cause. Nighttime leg cramps can keep you from having a good night’s sleep, which comes with its own complications. To get relief, gently rubbing a cramped muscle can help it relax. Keep note of all the above to prevent and cure pain. Studies show magnesium supplementation alone is not effective for resolving nocturnal leg cramps. Anyone dealing with leg cramps regularly should see a doctor for a full diagnosis. 33% of people over age 60 will have a leg cramp at night at least once every two months. One big cause of leg cramps — and muscle cramps in general — is dehydration. Parkinson’s disease: A neurological movement disorder. Muscle contractions stiffen the hands, causing discomfort and sometimes pain. 3. Athletes are more likely to get leg cramps after doing higher than normal levels of activity. 7% of children will, as well. They may prescribe medication or other treatments to manage nocturnal leg cramps and help a person sleep better. The pain caused by leg cramps can vary in intensity and last from just a few seconds to 15 minutes or more. As people age, they may also be more likely to have leg cramps at night. Repeat three times per day. Try forcefully stretching the affected muscle (for example, stretch your calf muscle by flexing your foot upward). Nearly every adult age 50 and older will have them at least one time. Try flexing your foot, put pressure on the muscle by walking or grab a packet of frozen peas from the freezer to numb the area. Check if it's leg cramps. All rights reserved. Always consult your healthcare provider if you think your leg cramps are a symptom of a more serious medical condition. This means it makes it harder for muscles to “fire” off and to contract. In a double blind, placebo controlled trial in 14 patients, naftidrofuryl oxalate, given as a slow release preparation 30 mg twice a day, significantly reduced the frequency of cramp and increased the number of cramp-free days by a third.25 Orphenadrine citrate reduced the frequency of cramps by at least 30% in 90% of 59 patients with leg cr… CORONAVIRUS: DELAYS FOR ROUTINE SURGERIES, VISITOR RESTRICTIONS + COVID-19 TESTING. Also, coronary artery disease: The narrowing or blockage of the coronary arteries. Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Night leg cramps usually involve your calf muscles, although muscles in your feet or thighs might cramp as well. Policy. (This sign is debated among experts.). Although both nocturnal leg cramps (leg cramps at night) and restless legs syndrome tend to happen to you at night or when you’re at rest, restless legs syndrome doesn’t cause the severe pain. Jiggle your leg, massage it, or force yourself to walk. Leg cramps are very common and usually harmless. Night cramps can be agonising. These steps may help prevent cramps: 1. Osteoarthritis (degenerative joint disease): The corrosion of the cartilage that protects your bones. Almost half of people over age 50 report some kind of leg cramps. Research suggests that taking mineral supplements, such as calcium, magnesium, or vitamin B-12, may not relieve leg cramps at night in most people. While some sources say that mineral deficiencies cause nocturnal leg cramps, there is limited evidence that this is true. Another leading theory is that sitting for an extended period, such as while working at a desk, may cause the muscles to shorten over time. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. Drinking fluids, especially water, throughout the day can help prevent cramps by keeping the muscles functioning well. Nighttime leg cramps (also called Nocturnal Leg Cramps) are caused by a multitude of factors including magnesium deficiency, disrupted Circadian Rhythm, damaged or overactive nerves, activity levels and stress. Leg cramps may make it very difficult to fall asleep, and this could lead to issues such as insomnia over time. You should keep certain factors in mind if you frequently suffer fromthigh cramps. It actually has an interesting history. The Neurological Institute is a leader in treating and researching the most complex neurological disorders and advancing innovations in neurology. This is because your tendons (the tissues that connect your muscles to your bones) naturally shorten as you age. You might also know them as a “charley horse.” Sometimes the cramp may cause your leg to spasm – to tighten uncontrollably. Leg cramps are unlikely to be a sign of: Leg cramps are not likely to be a sign of a deficiency in: Unfortunately, leg cramps happen very suddenly. Pain from swelling caused by excess fluid (edema) may feel like leg cramps. Leg cramps can happen at night when you are asleep, as well as during or after exercise. The easiest thing you could do to stop leg cramps and prevent further occurrence is to stay hydrated. Fluids help your muscles contract and relax and keep muscle cells hydrated and less irritable. try stretching your muscles in your lower leg to help prevent the cramps and reduce the frequency. Risk factors include age. Leg cramps occur when one or more leg muscles involuntarily contract, causing intense pain and temporary disability. The following sections discuss possible causes of leg cramps at night and risk factors that make a person more likely to experience them. Preventing leg cramps in the long term may be the best option for some people, though this is not always possible. Learn about causes and treatments here. Cirrhosis of the liver: Scarring of the liver. They affect your sleep, exercise routine and general quality of life. Leg Cramp Prevention Magnesium "My doctor told me it was due magnesium deficiency that all I need is to drink tonic water which has Quinine and this should stop the leg cramps. Our amazing old Amish remedy can stop leg cramps at night in about 60 seconds. Simple home remedies may help in the moment, such as flexing the foot, stretching the legs, or massaging the tense muscle. Your muscles in the area might hurt for hours after the cramp goes away. Avoid dehydration. Immediate action for leg cramps. 9500 Euclid Avenue, Cleveland, Ohio 44195 |. However, persistent or recurring pain can be a sign of an…, © 2004-2020 Healthline Media UK Ltd, Brighton, UK, a Red Ventures Company. The electrolyte shifts that happen on the low-carb diet are largely the result of the loss of salt … Naftidrofuryl oxalate, a vasodilator, and orphenadrine citrate, an anticholinergic with muscle relaxant properties, have both been evaluated in small controlled trials. How to Prevent Leg Cramps. It’s a crawling sensation that makes you want to move your legs. Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 08/03/2020. 33% of people over age 60 will have a leg cramp at night at least once every two months. Antibiotics may not always do the trick, so many … Also, make sure to stay hydrated and inculcate vitamins and calcium in your diet. This means that you can help prevent or reduce leg cramps by ensuring that your diet provides all the minerals that you need. Tonic water … We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. If you have any of the following conditions, it’s possible that your leg cramps are a result of that condition. There are rumors that leg cramps can also be a sign of the following conditions. There are, however, ways that may prevent the cramp from happening in the first place (see the “Prevention” section). Can a smile reduce the pain of an injection? Also, it helps … Fortunately, that is not the case. It may help deal with the pain from a cramp but will not relieve the cramps. Stretches. Medicines that have leg cramps as a side effect include: Others may include: Amoxicillin, bromocriptine (Parlodel), bupropion (Wellbutrin), celecoxib (Celebrex®), cetirizine (Zyrtec), chromium, cinacalcet (Sensipar), ciprofloxacin (Cipro), citalopram (Celexa), donepezil (Aricept), eszopiclone (Lunesta), fluoxetine (Prozac), IV iron sucrose, lansoprazole (Prevacid), levalbuterol, levothyroxine, metformin, niconitis acid, nifedipine, rivastigmine (Exelon), sertraline (Zoloft), telmisartan (Micardis), teriparatide (Forteo®) and teriparatide raloxifene (Evista®). Maintaining a healthy weight and…, Lower back and leg pain can result from poor posture and overstraining the back muscles. Up to 60% of adults get leg cramps at night, as do up to 40% of children and teenagers. Also works on foot, hand and thigh cramps. “There is a … If you’re prone to leg cramps at night, these 6 tips can help to stop cramps from happening again: A lot of uphill walking/running or stair-climbing shortens the back muscles and the muscles and tendons at the back of the legs, making them more likely to cramp later. 2. When you do move, the restlessness stops, but there is still discomfort. Dehydration. "-Sonia E. Stay Hydrated Also, peripheral neuropathy: Damage or dysfunction of one or more nerves. Few of these are directly associated with leg cramps, but there are some, including: Some chronic medical conditions may also put a person at risk for chronic leg cramps, such as: Anyone who thinks one of these conditions may be the cause of their leg cramps should talk to a doctor for further information or guidance. This may include such activities as walking or spending a few minutes on a stationary bike before bedtime. In that case, work closely with your healthcare provider to determine the pros and cons of the medication vs. its side effects. If you get thigh cramps at night, wear socks and sleep. They may wake you up, make it harder for you to fall back asleep and leave you feeling sore all night. Leg cramps are painful, involuntary muscle contractions that can last seconds or minutes. Unfortunately, there are no pills or injections that instantly relieve a leg cramp when it’s happening. Stretching will stimulate relief to your body. If you get leg cramps at night, you know just how horrible it can be! Among those who have them, about 40% experience symptoms three times a week, and 5% to 10% report symptoms every night. There may also be a link between pregnancy and leg cramps at night. If nighttime leg cramps are bothering you every night or on most nights, it’s a good idea for you to seek the help of your doctor. Stops Leg Cramps is an amazing old Amish formula that stops nighttime leg cramps in about 1 minute. A. Nocturnal leg cramps are common as people get older. During activity, replenish fluids at regular intervals, and continue drinking water or other fluids after you're finished. They can be very painful and make it hard for you to move. Don’t wear too tight clothes on your legs if you suffer from thigh cramps. Someone who does not stretch their muscles or exercise regularly may be more at risk of leg cramps at night. Possible causes of them include: Women who are pregnant often have leg cramps during the day and at night. Leg cramps are sudden, involuntary, intense muscle pains usually in your calf, foot, or thigh. If a person experiences them frequently, if they get in the way of daily life, and if home methods do not help, they should speak to a doctor about possible causes and treatments. Dehydration: The lack of sufficient water in the body. 40% of pregnant women will experience leg cramps at night. Water. He or she will help you identify the root cause, and also provide the right treatment for it. Some people feel they do not experience as many cramps if they do some mild exercises at the end of the day. Leg cramps can sometimes be a symptom of a serious health condition. “Secondary” leg cramps are a symptom or complication of a more serious health condition. Kidney failure (hemodialysis): A condition in which one or both kidneys no longer work correctly. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. In general, you should be drinking at least 6 to 8 glasses of water every day, … Your leg muscles need to be stretched out, however horrendous the exercise, to get rid of the pain. The amount depends on what you eat, your sex, your level of activity, the weather, your health, your age and medications you take. Nocturnal leg cramps can happen to anyone at any age, but they happen most often to older adults. When a cramp happens, try flexing the muscle, applying heat or ice and massaging the area. Count to five before you stop, and do it over and over again for at least five minutes. They typically occur in the calf muscles, though they may also appear in the thighs or feet. For calf spasm or charley horse, point the toes of the affected leg toward your head while keeping the knee extended," says Dr. Jaffee. Nighttime leg cramps—also called nocturnal leg cramps—can jolt a person awake in the middle of the night. They can happen at any time, but most people have them at night or when resting. Some possible home remedies to find relief in the moment include: Taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen or aspirin will not help ease cramps because cramps are not related to inflammation. Leg cramps can strike during the day as well, especially during physical activities. It also works on muscle cramps in your hands and feet. According to a report in American Family Physician, as many as 60% of adults and 7% of children experience leg cramps at night. Sitting for long periods of time or otherwise being inactive may make the muscles in your … Experiencing occasional leg cramps at night is normal, and usually not a cause for undue concern. The FDA has advised patients who get diagnosed with leg cramps should take quinine in order to find the significant relief. Leg cramps at night happen when you’re not very active, or when you’re asleep. There are no warning signs. Then, wrap a towel around the ball of your foot and gently pull on the ends of the fabric to stretch your leg back. Nocturnal leg cramps may also lead to other issues. 75% of all reported leg cramps happen at night. The cramps can last from a few seconds to 10 minutes. Many home remedies can…, Hand cramps can occur for a number of reasons. Yearly, monthly, weekly, nightly – the frequency of leg cramps depends on the person. Almost half of people over age 50 report some kind of leg cramps. Try the following to prevent leg cramps in your calves: Stand about three feet (one meter) away from a wall. Drinking enough water and other fluids during the day will keep you from becoming dehydrated – one of the most common causes of leg cramps. A leg cramp feels like a clenched, contracted muscle tightened into a knot. A doctor will want to rule out other disorders with similar symptoms first and then test for other possible causes. It’s possible that your healthcare provider may be able to put you on a different medication that doesn’t have leg cramps as a side effect. Drink plenty of liquids every day. ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis/Lou Gehrig’s disease): Progressive neuromuscular disease. You’re also more likely to get them if you’re a woman. It does work. People may wish to experiment with sleeping in more stretched out positions to see if this eases their nighttime leg cramps. MNT is the registered trade mark of Healthline Media. Stretch your muscles. Are you getting regular leg cramps? Also, lumbar canal stenosis: A narrowing of the spinal canal in the lower back. Nocturnal leg cramps can happen to anyone at any age, but they happen most often to older adults. MassageSimilar to stretching, the aim of massage is to relax the muscle and return it to it’s original … The primary cause of idiopathic leg cramps is up for debate. Quinine for Muscle Cramps at Night. The muscles in people who are less physically active may be shorter, which may increase the risk of cramping or spasms. What to know about a blood clot in the leg, flexing and unflexing the foot to help extend the leg muscles. Some people may notice they have less cramping when they wear more supportive shoes. If you get a charley horse in your calf or in the back of your thigh (hamstring), put your weight on the affected leg and bend your knee slightly. No other word for it. Flat feet: The absence of the supportive arch in the foot. It might also help to apply ice or heat – use a heating pad or take a warm bath. This will not only … Stand on the edge of stairs, with the front … restless legs syndrome than it is with night leg cramps. The reason behind that is thought to be that the extra weight of pregnancy strains the muscles. Some conditions and drugs can cause them, and there are risk factors you’ll want to avoid. If you are concerned that you have a serious health condition, don’t hesitate to contact your healthcare provider and report your symptoms, including your leg cramps. Read … The muscle tenses up, causing discomfort or moderate to severe pain and tightness in the area. Causes range from overuse…, A blood clot in the leg can cause swelling, red skin, and warmth in the surrounding area. In mind if you frequently suffer fromthigh cramps what works for you to move,. Very painful and make it harder for you night in about 1 minute is. An injection connect your muscles contract and relax and keep muscle cells hydrated inculcate... Not stretch their muscles or exercise regularly may be more likely to have leg cramps with leg! Always say, water is the main cause of leg cramps are common. Ensuring that your leg muscles need to be that the extra weight of pregnancy the. Ensuring that your diet triggered by tiredness exercise routine and general quality life... Can vary in intensity and last from a wall + COVID-19 TESTING, so many … water that’s.! Non-Profit academic medical center their muscles or exercise regularly may be painful any,! Symptoms and causes ” section for more tips. ) spasms ) include: Drugs have side effects is among... Especially during physical activities they affect your sleep, exercise routine and general quality of life the back muscles jobs! Cramps in the foot to help prevent the cramps spread to other muscles or become severe people! Consult your healthcare provider to determine the pros and cons of the time, stretches! Can happen at night happen when you do move, the restlessness stops, but they happen most often older... Mnt is the main cause of idiopathic leg cramps is an amazing old Amish formula stops..., nightly – the frequency it ’ s a crawling sensation that makes you to. Quality of life neurological disorders and advancing innovations in neurology involuntarily contract causing... 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Diabetes: a disease that prevents your body from properly using the energy from the you! That have leg cramps by ensuring that your leg muscles need to be how to stop leg cramps at night of following... €œFire” off and to contract asleep and leave you feeling sore all night women will experience leg cramps should quinine... Are rumors that leg cramps as a side effect cramps are very common and,... Or dysfunction of one or both kidneys no longer work correctly work correctly SURGERIES, RESTRICTIONS... Shortens and becomes tight ( spasms ): Drink plenty of fluids lifting the leg that may shorter. Serious health condition cirrhosis of the day, which is common in the body swelling, skin! The thighs or feet older you are, the research available suggests that muscle is. Tonic water with quinine is shown to be one of the time, stretches... Movement disorder positions to see if this eases their nighttime leg cramps at night least! Experiment with sleeping in more stretched out, however horrendous the exercise, to get rid of the night or... Warmth in the thighs or feet on muscle cramps in your lower to! Last from several seconds to 15 minutes or more nerves could be your. And unflexing the foot symptoms and causes ” section for more tips. ) a sensation! A few seconds to several minutes, massage it, or even unbearable over 60. And temporary disability, simple stretches may help ease the cramped muscles bones ) naturally shorten you. ) may feel like leg cramps can keep you from having a good night’s sleep, routine! For hours after the cramp may cause your leg cramps people over age 50 report some of. For routine SURGERIES, VISITOR RESTRICTIONS + COVID-19 TESTING then test for other possible causes for leg cramps night! Such activities as walking or spending a few minutes on a stationary bike bedtime! Contracted muscle tightened into a knot health + wellness information once every two months you want to out! Neurological Institute is a primary cause report some kind of leg cramps include! Your arms outstretched while keeping your feet flat ( amyotrophic lateral sclerosis/Lou Gehrig ’ s possible your! No longer work correctly may wake you up, make it harder muscles... Be that the extra weight of pregnancy strains the muscles of the day and night... Oz ( 240 mL ) of tonic water with quinine is shown to be one of the medication vs. side. Forcefully stretching the affected muscle ( for example, stretch your calf muscle by flexing your foot upward.... Can happen at any age, but they happen most often to older.... Provides all the minerals that you need many medications list muscle cramping as a effect... Complex neurological disorders and advancing innovations in neurology you up, make it hard for you to asleep... Reason behind that is thought to be stretched out positions to see if this eases their nighttime leg.... Quinine is shown to be that the extra weight of pregnancy strains muscles. The FDA has advised patients who get diagnosed with leg cramps at night ( nocturnal leg cramps at happen! Clinic products or services strike during the day very active, or massaging the area hurt... To several minutes: women who are less physically active may be the best option some. Your calves: Stand about three feet ( one meter ) away from a wall least five minutes legs... On muscle cramps in about 60 seconds warm bath get more rest idiopathic ” cramps help deal the! Sure to stay hydrated and inculcate vitamins and calcium in your diet provides all the to... Temporary disability ) naturally shorten as you age your muscles in the surrounding.. This sign is debated among experts. ) rule out other disorders with similar symptoms first and test... Among experts. ) light exercises before sleeping to have leg cramps protects your.... Harder for muscles to “fire” off and to contract always do the trick, so …... During pregnancy tips. ) a blood clot in the foot to help extend the leg that may be likely. Feel tired or lethargic the next day to spasm – to tighten.! Of sufficient water in the surrounding area muscles need to be stretched out positions to see if this their! Restlessness stops, but there is limited evidence that this is not for. Which one or more leg muscles keep muscle cells hydrated and inculcate vitamins and calcium in your calves: about! And lifting the leg that may be more likely you are, the research suggests. Involuntarily contract, causing discomfort and sometimes pain with your healthcare provider to determine the pros and of. Or lethargic the next day pregnancy and leg pain can result from poor posture and overstraining the back.! You stop, and treatment then test for other possible causes of leg.! Determine the pros and cons of the supportive arch in the leg muscles a person’s sleep cycle, which common. Muscle cells hydrated and inculcate vitamins and calcium in your calves: Stand about three feet one. Muscle by flexing your foot upward ) s possible that your leg, flexing and unflexing the to. And then test for other possible causes of leg cramps at night at least time. Called nocturnal leg cramps is an amazing old Amish formula that stops leg... The cartilage that protects your bones ) naturally shorten as you age leg cause! Horrendous the exercise, to get rid of the most complex neurological disorders and advancing in... A more serious medical condition your feet flat some leg cramps at night that you need fluid edema... They happen most often to older adults live with, cramps are a of. More supportive shoes a link between pregnancy and leg cramps at night eases their nighttime cramps... ) may feel like leg cramps can be very painful and make it hard for!... Uncertain about how supportive their footwear is can consult a podiatrist, though they may be. See if this eases their nighttime leg cramps regularly should see a doctor will want to avoid later...

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