Leg cramps can occur at any time of the day but the most common ones and severe ones are happening at night. Nighttime leg cramps can happen to both genders equally but they happen mostly to the individuals who have not been active during the day.
Physical activity is one factor that can influence the occurrence of leg cramps and another one is also genetics and age since these leg cramps seem to affect people in their midlife.
Leg cramps usally happen in the calves but can occur in the whole leg, feet and thighs. The symptoms and pain can differ depending on the individual and they can range from mild to severe.
In the night, the pain usually tends to be greater but after the initial cramping passes the muscles may yet remain painful and cause some discomfort.
The Difference Between Leg Cramps and Restless Leg Syndrome
The only thing in common between these two ailments is that they happen during the night. Here is how RLS is different from leg cramping:
- RLS does not cause cramping or pain while the nighttime cramps do.
- RLS is defined as a discomfort and crawling feeling in the legs.
- RLS creates a desire to move the legs while leg cramps often prevent the movement.
- Moving the leg in cases of RLS helps the condition while moving is not advised in leg cramping but stretching.
Causes of Leg Cramping During the Night
- Inadequate sitting
- Lack of physical activity
- Sitting for longer periods of time
- Standing for longer periods of time
- Alcohol addiction
- Endocrine disorders
- Structural conditions
- Flat feet
- Neuromuscular conditions
Treatment and Prevention of Nocturnal Cramps
The first thing you need to do is locate the source from the pain and address the root of the problem. Find out what is causing the leg cramps and go from there. However, here are some general tips on how to stop leg cramps from happening:
- Consume enough magnesium and potassium.
- Wear comfortable shoes and limit the high heels.
- Do stretching exercises before going to bed.
- Do water exercises.
- Stay hydrated.
- Use a heating pad on the afflicted area.
- Massage the area in circular motions.
- Shake your legs to improve the blood flow.