Tips to Help Prevent and Relieve Nocturnal Leg Cramps

Have you ever had that experience where your legs just seem to ache and feel stiff and painful? These symptoms can also be known as leg cramps and can occur at any time of day in both men and women. Often, leg cramps seem to be more common with age, though children can experience something similar that are commonly referred to as ”growing pains”. It is important to keep in mind that the causes for leg cramps can be varied.

 

Why Are You Getting Leg Cramps?

Periods of rapid growth such as during adolescence when your body’s need for minerals such as calcium are very high. Inadequate intake of this essential mineral can lead to pain in your muscles and bones.

 

During very heavy sessions of exercise, your body lose electrolytes such as sodium, potassium and magnesium, making you more likely to experience pain in your muscles.

 

Dehydration due to things such as excessive perspiration, loss of fluids during illness that cause diarrhea or vomiting, or illnesses with which you run a high fever, can lead to a loss of electrolytes as well.

 

Excessive intake of alcohol can lead to dehydration and thus leg cramps.

 

Diseases of the nervous or muscular systems can occur with Parkinson’s disease, and neuropathies or illnesses such as muscular dystrophy can lead to pain in your limbs.

 

The use of certain medications such as diuretics, cholesterol medications known as ”statins” or sometimes other medications that cause disturbances of calcium, magnesium or potassium can lead to leg cramps.

 

Hard workouts that generate excessive amounts of lactic acid can also result in symptoms of muscles aches and cramps.

 

Iron deficiency anemia from either inadequate intake of iron or loss of iron through menses or your gastrointestinal tract can lead to leg cramps.

 

Why Do  Leg Cramps Seem Worse at Night

Often at the end of the day when you are trying to quiet your body, your legs can begin to feel the effects of a long day. If you are prone to leg cramps, especially if you are experiencing them at night, then it might be a good idea to perform a few simple things as part of your nightly bedtime ritual.

 

Gentle exercise, a warm bath, taking a calcium, magnesium or potassium supplement, as well as ensuring that you are well hydrated in the evening can help curb leg cramps. If your symptoms of leg cramps are persistent or cause significant loss of sleep, it might be a good idea to check with your doctor and have some blood samples taken to ensure that your body has the proper balance of minerals, electrolytes and iron. Your body and your legs will thank you.

Dr. Liz Salada

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