Night Cramps in the Legs
Night Cramps – Many people complain of seizures at night. There are all kinds of recipes offered to get rid of them: prick your leg with a pin, rub with lemon juice and even drink more coffee with milk. But these are only temporary measures because leg cramps are a symptom that signals more severe health problems. So how do you get rid of nightly leg cramps? First of all, it is essential to find out what is causing them.
Why do Night Leg Cramps occur?
Before talking about the causes of cramps in the calf muscles, we suggest understanding the mechanism of their occurrence. Convulsions are involuntary and uncontrollable muscle contractions, and we can neither tighten nor weaken the convulsion nor localize it anywhere by an effort of will.
Night cramps in the calf muscles can manifest in different ways. It can be a relatively long period of muscle tension, and then we say that the leg has been brought together. Or maybe a short series of small-force contractions when the muscle seems to be trembling. Usually, this condition notes after prolonged and intense physical activity, but it can be associated with other reasons.
We usually talk about nocturnal cramps in the calves, but their localization can be different: toe, foot, lower leg, etc. Depending on the period and nature of the contractions, seizures divides into:
Myoclonic – a kind of muscle twitching, rhythmic or irregular. Flinching at a sharp sound is one of the varieties of myoclonic seizures, and their distinctive feature is painlessness.
Clonic – rhythmic muscle contractions that can last for a long time. If minor muscles contract, then they speak of a tic. Outwardly, clonic seizures can manifest as muscle tremors.
Tonic – usually, this is what we call “muscle contraction.” The muscle contracts and does not relax for some time. Tonic cramps accompany by discomfort or pain. Nighttime leg cramps are usually of this type.
Tonic-clonic seizures combine the two types described above. For example, tonic-clonic attacks include a condition during an epileptic seizure, when minor convulsions replace a muscular tension in all the body muscles.
Seizures can cause by a variety of reasons: from disorders of the nervous system to a lack of vitamins. Here are some of the more common ones:
- neurological disorders;
- hypertensive crisis;
- infectious diseases, including those accompanied by a sharp rise in temperature;
- poisoning and pathological conditions (for example, kidney disease), which lead to the intoxication of the body;
- endocrinological disorders (diabetes, hypothyroidism, and others);
- metabolic disorders;
- uncomfortable position of the legs;
- problems with the vessels of the legs, such as varicose veins.
Thus, seizures are only an indicator of a problem, and you need to identify the cause and eliminate the underlying pathology to get rid of them.
How to get rid of Leg Cramps at Night?
Let us repeat once more:
To treat night cramps is to treat the pathology that caused them. However, if discomfort in your legs occurs only occasionally, you might think about relieving the condition. And for this, it is necessary to eliminate provoking factors.
Balance your diet:
Drink more water, reduce or eliminate alcohol from the diet, eat more foods that contain calcium and magnesium (milk, cottage cheese, buckwheat, avocado, bananas). These elements are of great importance in the mechanism of muscle contraction.
Wear comfortable shoes:
If the shoes are too tight, squeeze the foot, or if you spend a lot of time in high heels, then this inevitably becomes the cause of night leg cramps in women. The comfortable and natural position of the foot in the shoe does not interfere with normal blood flow, which means less leg fatigue and less risk of cramps.
Especially if you do not exercise much during the day, a low level of physical activity leads, among other things, to problems with blood vessels and varicose veins, which are the cause of seizures. Walk around, roll a small ball or a unique roller with your foot, pull the sock over yourself several times and relax your leg. All this will help to activate blood circulation.
These measures can be called rather preventive. They do not guarantee that nocturnal leg cramps will no longer bother you, so if you wake up with pain and severe muscle tension, you can do the following:
Stand or walk on the cold floor:
First, you start to move, change the position of your body. Secondly, the cold will cause increased circulation, which means that the muscle will relax faster.
Pull the foot towards you and try to keep it in this position. Sometimes this has to be done through pain, but this is how you stretch the muscle and, as a result, help it relax.
Make an independent massage of the lower leg:
If the muscle is tightly contracted and does not relax, you can intensively pat the leg with your palms, beat it so that the power responds to the effect. You can find other recommendations in the press, such as pricking the leg with a needle (without piercing it deeply, of course), using a warming ointment, or taking aspirin. However, this kind of advice should be given by a doctor, so we do not recommend that you try these recipes on yourself.
If night leg cramps bother you constantly, you need to see a doctor. In this case, a diagnostic and treatment program will be prepared for you.
Can Night Cramps be cured?
If leg cramps are constantly bothering you, you need to consult a general practitioner so that he will be sent to a specialized specialist based on the results of the research. Usually, the examination program includes a doctor’s examination, a blood test, determination of the level of trace elements and vitamins, an endocrinologist’s consultation. A neurologist’s consultation (in case of convulsions, it is necessary to exclude the pathology of the nervous system that causes constant muscle excitement), ultrasound of the vessels of the lower extremities. After identifying the underlying pathology, a program for its treatment is drawn up.
We will pay special attention to varicose veins and chronic venous insufficiency as one of the most common pathologies. These diseases very often lead to night cramps. Stagnation of blood in the veins – the main consequence of vasodilation – leads to the fact that metabolic processes are disturbed in the tissues of the legs. In particular, the entry mechanism of potassium and calcium ions into cells destabilizes. Namely, they are responsible for regular muscle contractions. As a result, the muscle can begin to contract spontaneously, and its relaxation mechanisms disrupted. Therefore varicose veins are often accompanied by convulsions.
Is it possible to independently determine that the cause of the seizures was precisely varicose veins?
The following signs indicate that you can suffer from varicose veins:
- swelling of the legs, especially in the afternoon;
- pain, discomfort in the legs;
- itching, burning sensation, heaviness in the legs;
- spider veins and nets on the legs;
- the appearance on the surface of the portions of visible tortuous veins.