Most of us experienced leg cramps, which are far from pleasant, but definitely the most unpleasant are the ones happening during the night. It is an extremely unpleasant experience as it happens while sleeping when the body is relaxed thus making the pain more intense.
There are many reasons for their occurrence, mainly because of physical inactivity. These nocturnal leg cramps can be so strong that can literally wake you from deep sleep. Usually they occur in the calf, and they can last for a few seconds up to a few minutes. Likewise, they can appear in the feet as well. The harsh pain will pass after the nocturnal leg cramp, but the soreness in the muscle still stays for the rest of the night, or in some cases it can be felt even during the following day. Both genders are being affected by them, especially the ones over the age of 50 and the ones who lack physical activity.
Nocturnal Leg Cramps Vs Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS)
Even though both of these conditions appear throughout the night, they are not the same condition. They actually differ in many things, and here below are some of them:
- Nocturnal leg cramps can be relieved by stretching, and the RLS are being relieved by movement.
- Nocturnal leg cramps cause pain, which is not the case with RLS.
- Nocturnal leg cramps are being stopped by performing any kind of movement, but the RLS needs movement for your legs.
- Restless Leg Syndrome is more similar to a crawling notion in your legs and a discomfort.
Potential risks factors and causes of nocturnal leg cramps
The main cause for the nocturnal leg cramps cannot be still determined; however, the probable risks factors and causes are the following ones:
- Improper sitting posture
- Over extracting the muscles on the legs
- Standing or working on concrete floors
- Long sitting hours
Certain medical conditions can be the cause for nocturnal leg cramps, like these ones:
- Medications like statins, beta agonists, diuretics
- Parkinson’s disease
- Endocrine disorders (diabetes)
- Neuromuscular impairments
- Structural disorders (flat feet)
How to act when leg cramps appear?
Once it happens, you cannot do anything since you will become paralyzed for a short period of time. However, if you know what to do when this happens, then you will manage to offer relief, and prevent muscle soreness. Therefore, follow reading and find out how to manage nocturnal leg cramps thereby providing your body a pain relief:
- Massage the impacted area, but do it extremely gently.
- Sit on the ground and then extend your legs in front of you. Next, pint your feet to you, and you can also try to touch your feet for a much better stretch.
- You can try shaking your legs for a little bit, and if you often experience these types of cramps you can shake them while walking around.
- Your sheets and blankets should not be too tight, which will help your muscle leg not to contract.
- For a permanent relief, take 1 tablespoon of mustard.
Prevention and treatment for nocturnal leg cramps
The treatment of this type of issue varies from the reason it has caused it. For instance, if the nocturnal leg cramps happen due to dehydration, then you need to stay hydrated during the whole day.
There are other preventative methods and treatments for nocturnal leg cramps like the following ones:
- Muscle cramping occurs due to potassium or magnesium deficiency, so check if by any chance you are short of these two minerals.
- Before going to sleep, stretch your legs nicely.
- You can place a heating pad, on the affected area.
- Prepare yourself a warm, relaxing bath, in order to soothe muscle tightness.
- You can also try to use horse chestnut as it happens to be useful due to the fact that it improves the blood flow in your legs.
- The acupuncture treatment can help you to loosen your tight muscles.
- Avoid wearing high heels as they can cause leg cramps, instead of them try to wear ergonomic shoes.
- You can make your leg muscles stronger by performing some exercises in water.