Nocturnal Leg Cramps: Causes and Treatment

Nocturnal leg cramp
Nocturnal leg cramp

Nocturnal Leg Cramps

Leg cramps arise when one or more muscles or muscle fibers contract. Nocturnal leg cramps may disturb your sleep and need immediate attention. You can also suddenly experience the muscle mass ache along with the foot cramp because of a pull or sudden change of position. Nighttime base cramps are closely associated after nocturnal foot cramps, hence you can also additionally experience the sensations in your calves and thighs. Whatever the case, bottom cramps at night are usually common in people beyond 50 years and pregnant women. Generally, the cramp can last from minutes to a few seconds in healthy people or in the presence of diseases. These cramps occur suddenly and may happen repeatedly. Continuing pain with muscle pull is the basic characteristics of such leg cramps. These cramps can also occur during day time or at rest. More commonly these are seen in people who are less physically active people. Such muscle cramping usually involves the calf muscles or the small muscles of the sole of the foot.

Causes of nocturnal leg cramps

Nocturnal leg cramps may cause distress and sleep disruption. As a result, it impacts on physically the quality of life. People develop nocturnal leg cramps for various reasons, such as:

Muscle fatigue

Overexerting the muscle tissues in the legs with vigorous workout may lead to stretching of muscles. Long hours of standing or strolling also lead to such muscle fatigue. Muscle fibres need to relax in between the contraction movement. However extensive workouts which don’t allow the muscle to relax may lead to exertion of energy from muscle tissue. Night leg cramps in elderly people, usually involving the calf muscles or the small muscles of the foot, are troublesome. Muscle pain arises from dysregulated nerve impulses that limit muscle movements, as may additionally end result in muscle spasms and cramps.


Hypokalaemia is present when blood levels of potassium falls below normal. Lower level of body potassium can cause night cramping and leg pain. Potassium is an element required by the muscles in perfect amount to perform normally. It also promotes critical kidney functions, and regulates muscle contractions. Few athletes experience painful muscle cramps during their practice sessions. These cramps are related to physical activity and are termed exercise-associated muscle cramps. Such exercise induced nocturnal leg cramps may be due to water and salt imbalance. Usually excessive loss of water and electrolytes through sweat combined with excessive drinking of water causes low potassium in blood and may lead to muscle cramping.

 Low magnesium

Magnesium is another indispensable nutrient that supports a number of bodily functions. Along with blood stress regulation, DNA synthesis, it also regulates muscle health. Insufficient amount of magnesium in your body, it can cause leg cramps. People suffering from certain diseases such as celiac disease, chronic diarrhoea, and alcoholism can have magnesium deficiency.

Some of the signs and symptoms regarding magnesium deficiency include:          

  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • loss on appetite
  •  fatigue
  •  muscle weakness

Moderate-to-severe magnesium lack may also cause:

  • involuntary muscle contractions
  • muscle cramps
  • numbness          
  • heart arrhythmias
  • seizures

Lifestyle factors such as alcohol consumption have been shown to be associated with Nocturnal Leg Cramps.


Mild foot and leg cramps are common during pregnancy as pregnant women undergo changes in their body brought about by both hormonal and mechanical effects.  The exact cause for this remains unclear, but certain idea is that pregnancy requires more amount of calcium. Low calcium levels may additionally lead to extensive sensitivity and muscle cramps. People do treat calcium scarcity through ingesting calcium-rich ingredients and taking a calcium supplement. Oral magnesium supplementation seems to be valuable in the treatment of pregnancy-related leg cramps. Additionally, varicose veins of pregnancy can lead to nocturnal leg cramps.

Diseases and side effects of medication

Certain medicinal drugs like beta-agonists, statins, and then diuretics can cause leg cramps. People who undergo regular dialysis for kidney problems have a greater danger of leg and foot cramps. Generally, nocturnal pain can be a symptom of a serious pathology such as Parkinson disease, cardiovascular and renal diseases, lumbar canal stenosis, osteoarthritis, peripheral neuropathy or cirrhosis. Medical conditions associated with muscle cramps include uraemia, diabetes, thyroid disease, hypomagnesaemia, hypocalcaemia, and hypokalaemia. Hence, it is sensible to check urea, creatinine, potassium, magnesium and calcium concentrations, random blood glucose, and thyroid function tests in patients with cramps.

Faulty footwear

Wearing close shoes may cause excessive pressure on the toes or sole.  High heels footwear without arch assist execute pressure the feet in an uncomfortable position and predispose leg cramps.

Treatment of nocturnal leg cramps

  • Foot cramps at night time are all painful. However, lightly massaging or stretching the cramped muscle may additionally help loosen that on then relieve the pain. local use of hot fomentation and topical ointments can ease the pain.
  • Regularly stretching before or afterward exercising prevents muscle cramps.
  • An individual may try reducing smoking and alcohol to reduce such cramps.
  • Nightly stretching before going to sleep reduces the frequency and severity of nocturnal leg cramps in elderly people.
  • Treatment can be tried with pain killers. Supplement like calcium and magnesium salts; multivitamin and mineral supplements are useful. At times quinine and sodium chloride helps. Stretching exercises, vitamin B6 (pyridoxine), and vitamin E are also tried in these situations.
Nocturnal leg cramp
Nocturnal leg cramp

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