Leg cramps are an excruciating pain that a person experiences due to severe contraction of the muscles. Though they go away in some time, having them too frequently can cause lot of discomfort. They can appear anywhere on the leg, but they most commonly occur on the calf. They occur when the leg is in a relaxed position for a long time.
Many people, especially old people, experience them while sleeping, which are called the nocturnal or night leg cramps. These are also very common in athletes while exercising. They come in sudden spasms and last from only a few seconds to a few minutes, with severe pain.
Even after the pain subsides, one may feel tenderness for a long time. People who suffer from them regularly, especially during the night, have a variety of problems, like lack of sleep. Hence, it is very important to know how to prevent calf muscle cramps.
Though they are a common phenomenon, the exact reason foot and leg cramps is not very clearly known. The most common cause is said to be wrong position while sleeping. When we lie on the back with a blanket covering us, the blanket tends to bend our feet downwards, causing pain in the legs.
Another reason would be overexerting calf muscles while doing vigorous exercises. Electrolyte imbalance is also said to be a cause. Our body contains electrolytes, namely calcium, magnesium, potassium, and sodium. When an imbalance occurs in one of these electrolytes, it results into this condition.
Dehydration is also said to be one of the reasons. It is also very common in pregnant woman and alcoholics. There are also chances of this problem occurring due to some nerve disorders.
To do this, one has to stand 3 feet away from a wall. Keep the feet on the ground and lean on the wall. Doing this would help in stretching the muscles. One should do this exercise every night before sleeping. Studies have shown that people do find relief from this exercise in about 3-4 weeks.
Changing your sleeping posture can also be useful. If one is lying on the back, it would be good to keep a pillow underneath the calf.
On the other hand, if one is lying on one's front, letting the feet hang over the end of the bed would also be beneficial. It is also important not to cover oneself tightly with the blanket. Rather, one should let it lie loose near the foot to avoid it from bending downwards.
It is very essential to avoid dehydration, especially if one is doing physical work. So, one should drink lots of water or fruit juices after one exercises and even while doing household work. If one gets this problem very frequently at night, it could be avoided by drinking a glass of warm water before going to bed.
Some doctors may recommend quinine as a medicine, which also helps in decreasing the pain. However, this tablet has certain side effects if taken in large doses, and should be avoided if possible, especially by women who are pregnant. Some other drugs include vitamin B complex, magnesium, verapamil, etc.
Doing mild exercises regularly and taking a hot shower before going to the bed at night can also work as a precaution from this condition. The most effective way for treatment is by massaging the calf area or by doing some leg stretching exercises. If tenderness or discomfort in the calves persist for a long time, it can be eased by taking a Paracetamol.
However, if this is occurs very regularly, it would be advisable to go to the physician who would do a detail examination to know the root cause of the problem. Along with these methods, eating a healthy diet also contributes significantly.
Disclaimer: This is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.