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Leg cramps are usually harmless and fleeting. Sometimes however, leg cramps may be caused by larger vascular issues or chronic venous insufficiency. In these cases, it’s important to consult a vein treatment clinic to diagnose the issue and determine the exact root of your leg cramps. In this article, we discuss the causes of leg cramps and offer medical advice on leg cramps treatments.
What Are Leg Cramps?
Voluntary muscles in your arms and legs can be contracted and relaxed as you move your limbs. Similarly, muscles in your back, neck, and head automatically contract and relax in order to maintain your posture. During leg cramps, the muscle spasms, i.e., has an involuntary contraction. If this muscle spasm extends for a long duration, it turns into muscle cramps that harden the muscle.
A leg cramp can also be defined as a series of involuntary contractions of the leg muscles. It may happen on a particular part of the leg or in several muscles together. During some leg cramps, you may also experience an involuntary contraction in a muscle that moves in the opposite direction.
Muscle cramps don’t just happen in the legs. They can happen in any muscles under our voluntary control. While everyone experiences leg cramps at one point or another, its frequency increases with age. Leg cramps in the calf muscles (gastrocnemius) are referred to as a “charley horse.”
Nocturnal leg cramps are extremely common while sleeping or resting. The duration of a leg cramp varies drastically, but the average is 9 minutes. Your legs may feel sore for about 24 hours after leg cramps.
Symptoms of Leg Cramps
The following are some of the most common symptoms of leg cramps or a charley horse:
- Hardening of the muscle tissue under the skin.
- Immense pain and discomfort.
- Muscular weakness and fatigue.
- Recurrence of leg cramps in short intervals.
What Causes Leg Cramps?
Harmless causes of leg cramps include overuse of muscles and sitting or standing in the same position for a long duration. However, in most cases, leg cramps occur without any inciting event. Occasional leg cramps are perfectly normal with no cause for concern. However, frequent leg cramps may be indicative of several medical conditions.
Sometimes, the valves in the veins malfunction and restrict smooth blood circulation. This causes lactic acid and other chemical buildup in the tissues that leads to sciatica leg cramps.
Artеrіоѕсlеrоѕіѕ is an arterial dysfunction in which accumulation of plaque restricts natural blood flow. This leads to a form of leg cramps called ‘claudication’ that lead to sharp cramps during exercise.
Leg cramps can also occur due to mineral deficiencies such as calcium, potassium, оr mаgnеѕіum. An improper diet or the consumption of dіurеtісѕ (medicines for high blood pressure) leads to mineral deficiency that spurs leg cramps.
Leg Cramps Risk Factors
Everyone is affected by leg cramps at different points in their lives. As previously mentioned, intense exercise, standing or sitting still , or even poor diet can cause leg cramps. However, the following situations put you at greater risk for leg cramps.
Leg Cramps Pregnancy
Leg cramps occur frequently during pregnancy because of increased blood volume circulation and hormonal changes.
Leg Cramps Elderly
As you grow older, your muscles get weaker, especially if you lead a sedentary lifestyle. As such, leg cramps are more common amongst the elderly. According to studies, leg cramps affect 50% to 60% of all adults and only 7% of all kids.
Leg Cramps at Night
Leg cramps at night, also known as nocturnal leg cramps, are commonplace in most people because your leg muscles remain inactive for a long and extended period of time while resting.
How To Prevent Leg Cramps?
Do you experience frequent sciatica leg cramps or nocturnal leg cramps?
The following tips help you prevent leg cramps.
- Stretching & Massage: Perform a series of stretching exercises after waking up and before going to bed. You can also massage your legs and feet to facilitate blood flow and prevent leg cramps.
- Water: Drink lots of water throughout the day to remain hydrated.
- Balanced Diet: Eat a balanced diet with lots of colorful vegetables to avoid suffering from mineral deficiencies.
- Loose Covers: At night, sleep under loose covers so your leg muscles don’t go completely still and stiff.
- Move: Move around frequently throughout the day. If you have a desk job, get up to stretch and walk a little after every 15 or 30 minutes. If you need to stand still, then move your legs every once in a while.
Home Remedies For Leg Cramps
The following home remedies may help you ease some of the discomfort from leg cramps.
Application of Heat
Apply a hot towel or heating pad to your muscles to ease some of the discomfort. You can also try taking a hot shower.
- If you experience a charley horse, then pull the top of your affected foot towards your head while standing perfectly still on the other leg.
- If you experience quаdrісерѕ cramps, pull your affected foot up towards your buttocks.
You can use a chair to stabilize yourself in both cases.
Gently apply pressure on the cramped muscle and rub it in a kneading motion.
Permanent Leg Cramps Treatments
As previously stated, frequent leg cramps may be a sign of an underlying disease. As such, it’s vital that you visit a vein centers near your location so that they can run tests to determine the underlying root cause of the leg cramps.
If you have any further questions about leg cramps, please schedule a consultation today.