A leg cramp is a common condition encountered by people across the world. Some may get it occasionally, and, for others, it would be a regular phenomenon to wake up in the middle of the night with cramp in the legs. In this article, let us try to understand what causes of leg cramps are, particularly that of the cramps in the calf muscles, do we need to worry about it, and how to overcome it.
A leg cramp is a sudden painful contraction of the leg muscle. Most often, it is experienced in the calf muscle. But, it can also occur in the foot and thigh. The cramps may last from a few seconds to a few minutes. But, they cause a lot of soreness in the muscle involved. This soreness could last throughout the next day.
What Causes Muscle Cramps?
Below are the most common reasons for muscle cramps.
- Sleeping position: Some scientists feel that it is the foot position in sleep that triggers the cramps in the calf. While in sleep, sometimes the position of the feet is such that it causes the calf muscles to tense up and the person may end up getting a cramp.
- Overuse of muscles: One can experience cramps when you overuse the muscles, such as the day when you had a lot of running around. It is also observed in athletes.
- Dehydration with a loss or less intake of minerals like potassium, calcium, or magnesium:Less intake of water or loss of water as happens when you are fasting, suffer from loose motions, or sweating a lot in the hot weather can be a cause of the condition.
- Cold: It is also observed that people who sleep on the cold floor and hard bedding get a leg cramp.
- The incidences of getting leg cramps happen to increase as the person’s age increases.
- People with certain foot problems, such as flat feet and high feet arches, are more prone to leg cramps.
- Certain medical issues, such as diabetes, thyroid issues, kidney failure, and liver cirrhosis can be the cause.
- Vascular diseases where there is an improper supply of the blood due to the hardening of the arteries could cause the person to get muscle cramps.
- Certain neurological conditions, such as Parkinson’s disease or cases of spinal nerve compression, and lumbar canal stenosis, could may one experience cramps in legs
- Pregnant females are more prone to cramps in the legs due to improper blood supply to their legs.
- Certain medications, such as OC pills, Asthma medications, diuretics, etc. could cause cramps in the legs.
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Helpful Tips to Follow When You Experience A Leg Cramp?
- If you happen to experience a muscle cramp while you are sleeping, stretch your leg forcefully to obtain relief.
- Besides this, massage your affected leg. Have a walk around.
- If you are experiencing a painful, discomforting muscle contraction, go for the hot fomentation. It helps in relaxing your affected muscle.
- If you experience the muscle or leg cramp while you are performing any exercise or physical activity, stop continuing that exercise, sit and relax in a safe place, and follow the steps which are listed above.
How to Prevent Muscle Cramps?
Find below helpful tips to prevent the discomforting muscle or leg cramps.
- Drink an adequate quantity of water daily. Keep yourself hydrated adequately.
- Before you begin performing an exercise, make sure that you stretch yourself. Also, ensure that you stretch at the end of the activity.
- If you tend to experience discomforting cramps in bed, stretch your legs before retiring to the bed.
- If you suffer from the cramps more in the winters, make sure that you keep yourself warm adequately.
- Figure out and treat the underlying health issue.
- If you feel your cramps are because of your medications, speak to your doctor for a change of prescription.
- Wear proper footwear to correct the flat foot and high arch.
Do I Need to Worry About the Muscle Cramps?
There is no need to worry if the muscle cramps are occasional. However, here are some conditions that indicate that you would need to visit a doctor who can help diagnose the underlying condition causing the cramps and treat it.
- If you are getting the cramps very frequently
- If you are getting cramps without any obvious reason
- Have an underlying health issue
- There is swelling, redness of the leg along with pain.
Foods for Cramps:
If you are a healthy person and tend to get muscle cramps, try to include the following foods in your diet.
- Adequate Water: At least 8 glasses of water is recommended. Keep on sipping it throughout the day
- Sufficient Sodium from Natural Sources: Adequate amount of sodium in the diet through natural foods, such as beetroot, spinach, celery, and carrots, is beneficial. Try to take natural foods and avoid the processed foods that are high in salts, such as chips or sauces.
- Foods Rich in Potassium: Foods abundant in potassium, such as melons, bananas, potatoes, pumpkin, and coconut water.
- Foods Abundant in Magnesium: Nuts, seeds, soybeans, whole grains, dark chocolates, cocoa, etc.
- Calcium-rich Foods: Dairy products, nuts, and dark green leafy vegetables
Homeopathic Medicines for Leg Cramps:
Homeopathic medicines for cramps could help to reduce the frequency and severity of the cramps. Also, they can help to relieve the muscle soreness that remains after the cramp goes away.
Below are some commonly indicated homeopathic medicines for cramps in the legs.
- Rhus Tox: This homeopathic medicine is indicated for cramps in the calf muscles, buttocks, and thighs. Cramps in calves after midnight when lying in bed, cramps when sitting in a chair after walking, and aggravation of discomfort in wet, rainy weather and lying on the back or right side indicate this remedy. The patient feels better by warmth. When the patient is aggravated by the first motion and feels better after continuing the motion, this medicine may help.
- Calcarea Carb: When the patient experiences cramps in the calves, soles of the feet, and toes on extending the legs, calcarean carb is indicated. Also, it is indicated for cramps in the hamstring muscles after extending the legs. When the patient is chilly and cannot tolerate the cold, gets sour-smelling sweat, suffers from the coldness and numbness of the feet, and burning of the soles at night, Calcarea Carb is recommended.
- Cuprum Met: This homeopathic remedy is indicated in patients who tend to have spasmodic contractions in the body and cramps of the muscles. Cramps in the palms, calves, and soles and the sensation of tiredness in the hands and legs indicate this medicine. The patient’s discomfort is worse before the menses.
- Mag Phos: Cramps in legs, particularly in the right leg, indicate this remedy. Tingling sensation in the toes and leg aches after going to bed also indicate this medicine. Mag Phos is good medicine for writer’s cramp. The patient feels better by hot fomentation.
I hope this article helps to answer some of your queries related to the cramp in the legs. In case you have more queries, feel free to write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at 91 22 66888888.
- Written by Dr. Yafta. S., Associate doctor to Dr. Rajesh Shah