What Causes Leg Cramps and How Can You Stop Them?

Leg cramps – also know as night cramps – are painful spasms that typically occur in the calf muscles, which comes suddenly and lasts from a few seconds to a few minutes, usually in the legs. They often occur immediately after you fall asleep or upon waking.

What causes muscle cramps?

To muscle spasms can cause various conditions or activities, such as:

– Exercise, injury or overstressing the muscles
– Pregnancy – cramps can occur due to reduced amounts of minerals such as calcium and magnesium, especially in the later months of pregnancy
– Exposure to low temperatures, especially to cold water
– Other medical conditions, such as problems with blood flow (peripheral arterial disease), kidney, thyroid or multiple sclerosis
– Standing on a hard surface for long period of time, sitting for a long time, or putting your feet in the unusual position while you sleep.
– Lack of potassium, calcium and other minerals in the blood
– Dehydration
– Use of certain medications, such as antipsychotics, contraceptive pill, diuretics, steroids and statins.

How to stop muscle cramps?

You need to try a few different ways to stop the muscle spasm before you find what works best for you

Some of the methods that you can try are:

– Stretching and massage muscles
– A warm bath or placing heated pads on muscle
– Take painkillers, such as acetaminophen, ibuprofen or naproxen. Read and follow all instructions on the label.
– Drink plenty of fluids or sports drinks
– If you have a cramp in your leg, you can try the following:
– Walking or jiggle your leg
– Stretching the muscles while you sit or stand
– While you sit, straighten the leg and flex your foot up toward your knee

If you feel muscle spasms caused by consumption of certain drugs:

Before re-take medication, talk with your doctor. He will perhaps recommend another medicine or to adjust the dose.
If you are taking any medication that is not prescribed by a doctor, stop taking it until you consult a doctor.

Prevention

The following tips may help prevent leg cramps:

– Drink plenty of water and other liquids
– Limit or avoid alcohol and caffeine, which promote dehydration of the organism
– Make sure you eat a healthy diet (especially during pregnancy), and especially foods rich in calcium, potassium and magnesium
– Ride a bike or stationary bike
– Stretch your muscles each day, especially before and after exercise and before going to bed
– Do not suddenly increase the intensity of exercise
– Take a daily multivitamin supplement.

What if muscle cramps keep coming back?

Mandatory to talk with your doctor if you experience muscle cramps that keep coming back or are severe. These may be symptoms of other problems, such as restless legs syndrome.

If spasms keep coming back, bother you so much, your doctor may prescribe medication to relax the muscles.

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