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What are Night Leg Cramps and How to deal with it?

Updated on May 9, 2013
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I've been getting night cramps almost on a regular basis for the past few months. And believe me it really hurts. I’m in tears and can't move for at least 2 or 3 minutes. It feels as if my muscles are tearing , ripping and then after few minutes you feel that it was just like a Heart Attack (jokingly “Leg Attack”). It’s gone, but the left over feel is not so pleasant. At last I could find out it’s another Night Leg Cramps. Anyone who has experienced leg cramps knows how uncomfortable they can be, especially if you get them at night.

So what is Night Leg Cramp?

Night leg cramps are pains that occur in the legs during the night. They usually cause awakenings from sleep, but they may also occur while you are late awake at night without much activity. In most cases, night leg cramps involve your calf muscles, but muscles in your feet or thighs may cramp as well.

It lasts from several seconds to few minutes. And it may cause muscle soreness after it’s over. It happens most commonly in elderly people, pregnant women, but it can equally cause trouble to teenagers and sometimes children.

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What causes Night Leg Cramps?

The exact causes for these cramps are still not known to medical field. But there are lots of proof which links it to general muscle fatigue. It can be also due to sitting/standing in a same position for a longer duration and also doing heavy exercise at night. It can also be due to certain conditions like pregnancy, high blood pressure etc and also if you are on certain medications.

But the real fact is that anyone can get them. And it hurts very badly.

Now, how to prevent them?

Well, I won’t be suggesting what medication to be done when you get night leg cramp, because prevention is known to be the best possible way. In fact there is almost no medication to this situation.

If you are hit with Night Cramp in the middle of night, scream, cry and do whatever you like, but importantly do not move your legs for at least 10-15 minutes even after it is gone. Otherwise, another round of cramp may start off or it can spread to other parts of your leg. I know it pains very badly, but I think you have no choice, but to lie down without moving your legs.

Now talking about the preventive steps, make sure that you drink a lot of water during night. Dehydration is supposed to cause this. A little stretching exercise before you go to bed is a good idea. But in case you have done a lot of exercise late night, make sure you get a relaxing session at the end of it. I mean a complete relaxing session.

Though lots of people suggest wearing socks, I couldn’t find any link. In fact I would suggest to even keep your blanket loosely towards your feet.

Other suggestion is drinking milk. These cramps are said to be due to lack in vitamins and minerals in our body and milk surely is the best answer.

The same theory goes, when people suggest eating banana after your meal to avoid night cramps. Bananas are very rich in potassium and the effect will be immediate.

The combination of calcium and magnesium together is a wonderful solution for sports injuries and cramping. You can also have great results with magnesium alone, since our diets tend to be high in calcium.

Non-Scientific Methods for Leg Cramps

These are non-scientific and please note that I am just writing down a collection of ideas from my friend’s circle. As obvious, you should only be responsible for trying this: -

  1. As old wives tale goes, keeping a bar of hand soap at the bottom of your bed, under the sheet, will help to stop the leg cramps.
  2. Sleeping with a few wine corks is another idea suggested to me. I have never tried it, but I see no harm in it.
  3. One spoonful of dark chocolate was suggested to me for Night leg Spasms. But do you really need to suffer from such a bad pain to try it?
  4. Another friend suggested a spoon of baking soda mixed with water to ease leg cramps. I never tried it, but little curious to find out the result.

At the End….

The best thing you can do next day morning is to take a hot shower and especially running hot water at the affected areas. Usually I felt perfectly ok towards the next day afternoon / evening. But I am sure that if that lasts longer, then medical help is required. But do simple activities for a day and avoid long exertions and complex postures to get a quick relieve.

Out of the Non-Scientific Menthods mentioned, which one would you like to try?

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      Hiya 2 years ago

      all you can do..which i do ..is to strain the muscle in the direction of knee with ur hand..very quickly and in strong way...

    • profile image

      Dejah 3 years ago

      I just had one, at 2:30 AM. They suck, and sometimes you gotta walk them out and rub out the knot. As you walk, go in the full heel-toe motion. Yes it hurts like someone punching you in the calf, but trust me, it feels a lot better.