Sometimes the calf muscles in legs suddenly becoms tight and painful at night. Such nocturnal leg cramps are involuntary contraction of a leg muscle and can last from a few seconds to 10 minutes leaving one completely restless and sleepless. Here are answers to some myths and queries related to it.
Are these leg cramps normal?
The strong cramps often experienced at night while sleeping are painful but are common and can be harmless in nature; in comparison to other cramps that take place while one is running, exercising, sprinting or undergoing any therapy session. Because in all these activities, muscles require more oxygen; then delivered to them by the blood vessels. Hence, they need more treatment and attention than nocturnal cramps.
Who gets nocturnal leg cramps?
As per statistics, they are found common in people above age 50. But recently in the last two months, almost one-third of people over the age of 60 and 50% of people above the age of 80 were found having muscle cramps. 40% of pregnant women; and surprisingly younger people and children too were observed bearing with these cramps.
What are the causes of these cramps?
These cramps come unwillingly and have no known causes. But one of the primary reasons can be sitting for an extended period and lack of physical exercise like squats, pilates, walking or any physically stimulating sport. This leads to an inadequate muscle stretching; which perhaps increases the risks of cramps. Other causes can be side effects of medication (Diuretics, statins) or severe medical conditions like diabetes, thyroid, dehydration, kidney diseases, liver diseases, lack of vitamins such as potassium, magnesium and calcium found common in people above the age of 60.
Can these cramps be cured naturally or require medications?
Some studies suggest that a program of regular stretching before bedtime decreases the frequency of leg cramps. Also, it is recommended to stay hydrated and involve in mild exercises like basic toes movement, climbing stairs, walking on heels. One can massage the area by hand or using a foam roller too. But if cramps are beyond control even after natural treatments then one should visit the doctor for medications. Blood test for measuring the level of Potassium, magnesium and calcium is recommended by doctor for future treatments of same.
What should be avoided during these cramps?
Earlier Quinine drugs were used to treat nocturnal cramps. But as they have adverse effects and risks, one should avoid the usage of the same. Mostly during the third trimester of pregnancy, one is more reluctant to have puffy feet. Extreme care and precautions should be taken during that time by avoiding heavy exercises.