Leg Cramps At Night Or Nocturnal Leg Cramps
Leg cramps at night or nocturnal leg cramps are a common and frustrating condition.
Everyone experiences muscle cramps from time to time.
Perhaps your neck gets cramped after a day at your desk or you get a leg cramp after exercise.
In some women it is due to wearing high heels that they get leg cramps. Stretching the muscles regularly, and, in the case of high heels, avoiding them is the solution to most of these common cramps.
Cause Of Leg Cramps At Night
Leg cramps at night is generally due to an exaggeration of a normal muscle reflex. When you turn during sleep, you contract your calf muscles and stretch their tendons. This stimulates nerve stretch receptors in the tendon and sends a message back to the spinal cord, telling the calf muscles to contract.
Sometimes, the muscles remain contracted and hurt. Nerve damage such as that caused by pinching a nerve, muscle damage, a partially obstructed flow of blood to the legs and abnormal mineral or hormone levels can also be the causes for painful muscle cramps at night.
Calcium deficiency is the most common cause of leg cramps at night. You are susceptible to developing leg cramps, if you are postmenopausal, trying to lose weight, or don't consume enough calcium.
It's quite alarming to realize the extent of calcium deficiency in our population, particularly among women. While leg cramps are just an annoyance, another result of calcium deficiency is osteoporosis, which is a crippling disease that can be prevented.
You should begin now to increase the calcium consumption, to alleviate leg cramps and prevent the long-term problems associated with calcium deficiency. If you're avoiding fat, try nonfat yogurt and skim milk
Pregnant women are sometimes at risk to leg cramps, which usually occur with the changes in their calcium metabolism. Calcium supplements can help. Taking calcium daily should give relief. Please check with your obstetrician before beginning the supplement.
Vitamin E is another help for nocturnal leg cramps. In most cases, the symptoms returned when the supplements were discontinued. You may profit from magnesium, potassium, or vitamin A, if neither calcium nor vitamin E gives you relief.
Treatment For Leg Cramps At Night
Treatment for leg cramps at night depends on whether a cause can be identified. For example, your physician may recommend taking extra calcium, drinking more fluids, or changing medications.
Quinine is the only drug that has been shown to be efficient in treating nocturnal leg cramps, but the Food and Drug Administration has ruled that none of the over-the-counter drugs used to treat leg cramps at night are recognized as safe or effective and therefore, will be subject to regulatory action.
Doctors frequently prescribe 1 or 2 quinine pills at bedtime, but they can cause birth defects and miscarriages, so a pregnant woman should never take them. They can also cause headache, nausea, ringing in the ears, disturbed vision, chest pain and asthma.
Some of the behavioral treatments for leg cramps at nights include stretching or even light exercise before going to bed, regular daytime exercise, good hydration, and improved footwear.
Quinine, Benadryl, vitamin E, muscle relaxants, verapamil and gabapentin are the medications that may be efficient. Most of these have not been definitively proven to reduce cramps but, with appropriate medical supervision, one or more of these may be efficient and acceptably safe.
Before starting any treatment, it is important to see your doctor to be sure there is no other explanation for your symptoms and to check for some of the conditions associated with leg and foot cramps.