Nocturnal leg cramps (the leg cramps at night) are not only painful, but they also prevent you from having a good night’s sleep, which is important to your health. According to the experts, lack of fluids and blood flow to the legs are some of the most common reasons for nocturnal leg cramps. You probably already know that the cramps and pain generally last for a few seconds, but the resulting muscle soreness can continue for up to a couple of days. Individuals who suffer from these cramps are usually above 50 years old, but that doesn’t mean that younger people are exempt. Leg cramps most commonly affect the calf muscle; however, some people have experienced them in their feet and thigh muscles as well.
Nocturnal leg cramps and restless leg syndrome (RLS) occur during sleeping hours but that is the only similarity between the two conditions. The experts say that there are many differences between leg cramps at night and restless leg syndrome:
- restless leg syndrome does not cause pain or cramping, while nocturnal leg cramps do.
- restless leg syndrome is more of a discomfort or crawling feeling in your legs.
- restless leg syndrome causes the desire to move the legs, while nocturnal leg cramps often prevent movement.
Most common risk factors:
- Sitting for prolonged periods of time
- Over-exertion of the muscles in the leg
- Standing or working on concrete floors
- Sitting improperly
- Parkinson’s disease
- Neuromuscular disorders
- Structural disorders like flat feet
- Endocrine disorders like diabetes
- Diuretics, statins, beta agonists
The most effective preventative methods for nocturnal leg cramps are:
- Use horse chestnut, which has been shown to increase blood flow to the legs.
- Take a relaxing, warm bath prior to sleep to ease any muscle tightness.
- Apply a heating pad to the affected area.
- Try acupuncture treatment to loosen tight leg muscles.
- Ensure you are not deficient in magnesium or potassium – deficiencies in both minerals are linked to muscle cramping.
- Stretch your legs prior to bed.
- Partake in water exercises to build leg muscles.
- Wear ergonomic shoes and avoid high heels.
Here are some tips to better handle nocturnal leg cramps:
- Get up slowly and walk around a bit.
- Share your leg.
- Gently massage the area in a circular motion.
Take a tablespoon of yellow mustard to relieve discomfort.
Source: Organic Health Corner