Having leg cramps at night in feet and legs and neck

(Apr 27, 2007)


Most of us have had cramps, or the involuntary contraction of muscles, at some point or the other. However, if you experience frequent episodes of sudden and painful cramps in the muscles of your legs during bedtime, you may be suffering from a disorder known as Night Leg Cramps. In most instances, this condition affects the muscles in your calves. However, at times it could involve your thigh and feet muscles too. While the cramps may pass after a couple of minutes, the pain and tenderness in your leg could last for several hours. Anyone can develop night leg cramps, though the risks of this disorder increase as you grow older. Pregnancy may also increase the chances of cramps in your legs, mainly during the night.

Night leg cramps are mostly harmless and often occur for no apparent reason. However, at times, they could be a symptom of an underlying condition, which include:

  • Structural disorders such as flat feet, peripheral artery disease and spinal stenosis
  • Metabolic problems like Addison’s disease, cirrhosis, hypothyroidism, chronic kidney failure and diabetes (type 1 and 2)
  • Use of certain medication, especially diuretics, oral contraceptives and blood pressure drugs
  • Other factors or conditions like alcoholism, dehydration, diarrhea, Parkinson’s disease and muscle fatigue

Night leg cramps is usually characterized by:

  • Involuntary muscle spasms
  • Pain
  • Swelling
  • Numbness

Many people confuse this condition with Restless Leg Syndrome, as their symptoms may seem similar. However, if you experience pain after the cramps, you are probably suffering from night leg cramps. In case the cramping becomes a regular occurrence or starts interfering with your sleeping patterns and daily activities, it is time for you to visit a doctor. 

The treatment path followed by the doctor will depend upon the cause of the cramps. In all probability, the cramps should disappear, once the underlying cause is treated. Certain home remedies and self-care measures can also help you relieve night leg cramps

  • Apply an ice pack on the cramped muscles for a couple of minutes, till they relax
  • Massage the affected muscle very gently, using the soft pad of your thumb
  • Un-tuck the covers at the foot of your bed, to relieve any pressure on your leg muscles
  • Get up and walk around a bit or juggle your foot to loosen the muscle
A few simple steps are also very effective in preventing night leg cramps from occurring. In order to reduce the frequency and intensity of these cramps during the night, you need to:

  • Apply a heating pad to the affected muscle for about 10 to 15 seconds, a couple of times during the day
  • Take a warm shower or bath, just before you go to bed
  • Mix about ¼ teaspoon of baking powder in a glass of plain water and drink it after any form of strenuous activity
  • Stretch the affected leg muscles for at least 10 to 15 minutes, before you start your workout routine.
  • Drink 8 to 10 glasses of water during the day, to keep all your cells well hydrated
While these home treatment suggestions are quite safe if used correctly, it is best to check with a doctor before trying any of them.

References

  1. http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/legcrampsunknowncause/Pages/Introduction.aspx

answered by G M on Mar 19, 2013, 11:13:34

You should be drinking 8 glasses of water each day, drink a glass of cold water before you go to bed each night and also take a double dose of Magnesium complex also before you go to bed. Instead of the Magnesium you could take a dose of Mag Phos homeopathic night and morning.

answered by J R M on Apr 27, 2007, 7:56:18

Depending upon your cause of leg cramps, you might consider magnesium glycinate, etc. before bed, epsom salt baths (magnesium sulfate) or ferrous gluconate (iron). You may also benefit from massage, acupuncture, Reiki or other similar treatments.

answered by Dr K B N on Apr 27, 2007, 7:47:49


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