Night leg cramps are a stiff, knotted sensation that occurs in your legs at night. They can last anywhere between a few seconds and several minutes. If the cramp is severe, it may cause your muscle to be sore for several days.
Leg cramps are not to be confused with restless legs syndrome. Both occur at night, but restless legs syndrome results in discomfort and an inclination to move rather than painful muscle cramps. Leg cramps, as painful as they may be, are completely safe.
Causes of Night Leg Cramps
Muscle cramps are more common after completing unusually vigorous levels of exercise. For some people, overdoing an activity, like working out for a long time, leads to muscle cramps later in the day.
It’s usual for workers to stand for lengthy periods during the day, which might cause weariness. People’s muscles weary throughout the day, making it more probable that they may cramp in the evening.
Sitting still for a long time without moving your muscles can increase the risk of muscle cramps. These cramps frequently occur while you are in bed at night.
Lack of regular exercise can make one more susceptible to leg cramps at night. Muscle growth in less-active persons could lead to the development of cramps or spasms, which is especially common in older adults.
With advancing age, it’s more likely that older adults will get leg cramps at night. up to 33% of adults over the age of 50 have chronic nighttime leg cramps are commonly reported in a review in the journal BMC Family Practice.
Studies show that there is a link between nocturnal leg cramps and pregnancy. The increase in dietary needs and/or hormone changes in the body during pregnancy could be a contributing factor.
Restricting mobility or blood flow to the legs by sitting or laying in a particular manner, such as resting one leg on the other or crossing your legs, may cause cramps.
It is possible that some people will want to try out various sleeping positions in order to see whether this eases their overnight leg cramps.
Muscle cramps are often reported as adverse effects of several drugs. While some of these are related to leg cramps, only a few are directly linked to them. A few of these drugs include naproxen, teriparatide (Forteo), raloxifene (Evista), levalbuterol (Xopenex), albuterol/ipratropium (Combivent), conjugated estrogens, and pregabalin (Lyrica).
Chronic conditions such as diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, kidney failure, liver failure, alcohol use disorder, nerve damage, osteoarthritis can predispose one to leg cramps.
Prevention of Night Leg Cramps
Mild Physical Activity
Some people believe that if they do some light workouts at the end of the day, they will not have as many cramps. Walking or riding a stationary bike for a few minutes before night are examples of activities that can be done to help you relax.
Drinking Plenty Water is Important
Fluids aid in the transportation of nutrients and waste from the muscles to and from the bloodstream. The consumption of fluids, particularly water, throughout the day can assist to prevent cramps by ensuring that the muscles are kept functioning properly.
Changing Shoes is an Important Step
When wearing more supportive shoes, some people may report that they experience less cramping as a result. Anyone who is unsure about the level of support provided by their footwear should contact a podiatrist.
Treatment of Night Leg Cramps
Treating leg cramps at night may help a person sleep better. Some home treatments include:
- gently stretching out the muscle
- massaging the area by hand
- using a foam roller to massage the leg
- flexing and unflexing the foot to help extend the leg muscles
- applying heat to the area
NSAIDs like ibuprofen or aspirin will not help relieve cramps since cramps are not related to inflammation. It may relieve the discomfort but not the cramping.