Most of us from time to time have experienced leg cramps in the middle of the night. That strange feeling that wakes you up, then freezes you in pain as soon as you try to move around to make it go away.
Muscle cramping occurs when the muscles tighten due to overexertion and dehydration. When the body does not have enough fluids in the system, it can result in an electrolyte imbalance that can trigger those vice-like leg cramps.
People frequently get cramps in their calf muscles, thighs, hamstrings, quadriceps, feet, and just about every muscle. Cramps can also occur after inactivity, such as sitting too long in one place without moving any muscle. A person can get a cramp even when lying in bed. A cramp can last a few seconds to 15 minutes or longer. it might recur multiple times before it actually goes away. Muscle cramps can happen anytime of the day, even during when a person is fast asleep. This condition is referred to as night leg cramps.
Night leg cramps are a sudden painful cramp in the leg. It can be very painful. This happens because the leg muscles contracts, which usually happens in the back of the lower leg or calf. Most of the time they usually occur while a person is asleep or sometimes when a person is about to wake up.
Doctors also believe that abnormal processing of electrolytes lead to such cramp attacks. Electrolytes such as salt and minerals are essential elements that our body needs for the maintenance of the basic functions of muscles. Other factors that contribute to cramping include inadequate stretching and muscle fatigue. Calcium deficiency also cause leg cramps at night, especially among women. If a woman is post-menopausal, trying to lose weight, or does not consume enough calcium, she is susceptible to developing night leg cramps.
To prevent leg cramps, you need to consume a sufficient amount of calcium. This can also prevent other problems associated with calcium deficiency like osteoporosis. Calcium supplements may also help relieve a person from leg cramps, if taken on a regular basis.
Decreased potassium levels, neuromuscular disorders such as Paskinson’s disease and alcohol use can also be some of the causes of leg cramps. Certain medications, such as albuterol, niacin, diuretics, and some calcium channel blockers and antipsychotic medications may also cause leg cramps. Partially obstructed blood circulation to the legs and abnormal mineral or hormone levels can also be the causes for painful muscle cramps at night.
If someone suffers from leg cramps, there are several practical pain relief techniques to make this annoying condition subside. Try massaging the area with ice for no more than ten minutes or until the area is bright red, which indicates that blood cells have returned to heat the cramped muscle. If ice is too uncomfortable, try heat. Heat improves blood circulation and makes muscles more flexible.
Some people find that heat is a bit more soothing for muscle cramps than ice. Consider a heating pad for 20 minutes at a time or perhaps a warm shower or bath. Make sure to massage the muscle following the application of ice or heat on the affected area.
Doctors may prescribe muscle relaxants, Benadryl, or vitamin E for the treatment of leg cramps. These drugs are safe but it is best to first consult a physician before taking them. If an individual is frequently suffering from leg cramps during the night, it is still best to consult a doctor to eliminate this night time problem.