Night leg cramps are painful, involuntary spasms, aching or contractions of muscles in your legs. In many cases, night leg cramps involve your calf muscles, but muscles in your thighs or feet may cramp as well.
Most of the time, night leg cramps happen for no known reason, and they’re usually harmless. Generally, night leg cramps are most likely related to muscle fatigue and nerve problems. The risk of having night leg cramps increases with age. Also, pregnant women have a higher likelihood of experiencing night leg cramps. Venous disease can contribute to leg cramps as well. Some patients comment that their night leg cramps disappear after having their varicose veins ablated.
For most people, night leg cramps are simply an annoyance — something that occasionally jerks you awake. But in some cases, you may need to see a doctor. In rare situations, night leg cramps can be associated with an underlying disorder, such as peripheral artery disease — in which narrowed arteries reduce blood flow to your limbs.
Seek immediate medical care if you:
Experience severe and persistent cramping
Have night leg cramps after being exposed to a toxin, such as lead
Schedule an office visit if you:
Experience leg cramps and have Venous Disease
Have trouble functioning during the day because leg cramps interrupt your sleep
Develop muscle weakness and atrophy with leg cramps
Activities that might help relieve night leg cramps include:
Flexing your foot up toward your head
Massaging the cramped muscle with your hands or with ice
Walking or jiggling the leg
Taking a hot shower or warm bath
Activities that might help prevent night leg cramps include:
Drinking plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration
Stretching your leg muscles or riding a stationary bicycle for a few minutes before going to bed
Eating foods which will increase your potassium and calcium levels which assist in muscle function
It’s a good idea to have painful leg cramps looked into if they continue and you suspect they could be caused by varicose veins. Call our office with any additional questions or to schedule an appointment.