Nocturnal Leg Cramps: Causes and Natural Remedies

How to cure leg cramps at night?


You lie down, come close to falling asleep, or fall asleep soundly when suddenly a calf or foot cramp makes you jump and sit up in bed.

We all know this pain so intense that it contracts the whole body, making us wince, stiffen and cry out for a few minutes. 

But what are the causes of these nocturnal cramps and what natural remedies can overcome these monstrous contractions?

How to avoid the cramp and its unnecessary suffering? This is what we will explore together.


What is a cramp?


Cramp is an involuntary muscle contraction that causes extremely severe pain.

It does not appear without reason and it is often necessary to look for the correlation leading to this contraction to arrive at the solution of this sudden problem.

Cramps usually occur in the feet and calves.

The most common attack the calves but when the cramp is related to an electrolyte imbalance, it most often occurs in the foot, thus contracting the thinnest and shortest muscles.

The cramp is best seen at night. This is its most vicious side!


Causes of nocturnal leg cramps


When you research the potential causes of night cramps, you quickly realize that many diseases can trigger them. 

We must nevertheless be calm when we know that in 95% of cases, they are benign.

In fact, the actual causes of cramps are poorly defined scientifically and their origin remains unknown to this day.

A few leads evoke certain triggers:

 

  • Insufficient potassium level

Potassium is directly involved in muscle contraction and relaxation.
If you miss it and therefore have hypokalemia, you will experience muscle weakness, myalgia, and cramps.

A potassium deficiency can be very dangerous because it can cause cardiac arrhythmia.

 

  • Too low sodium level

Sodium is an electrolyte that can trigger cramps.
It appears that this deficiency is often caused by a lack of salt in the diet.

Sodium deficiency is the most common cause of nocturnal cramps.

 

  • Magnesium deficiency

After potassium, magnesium is the second mineral directly involved in cramps.
These minerals are essential in muscle relaxation.

Often, magnesium and potassium deficiencies are caused by a lack of green vegetables in the diet.
The imbalance arises from sodium overload which is not counterbalanced by the potassium and magnesium intake from the diet.

 

  • Too low calcium level

Hypocalcemia usually results in muscle spasms leading to cramps.
The concentration of calcium is very much involved in the contraction of muscle fibers.

However, prefer to adapt your diet that you supplement with calcium because its absorption is limited.
You will easily find it in dairy products, cheese, sardines, tofu, almonds, beans, spinach …

 

  • One-time stress

Your lifestyle is rather sedentary. A friend invites you on a trek and you accept their invitation.
The trek is going very well but you felt it required a lot of effort.
The night after this activity, cramps start to happen because you put too much strain on your muscles.

These cramps are quite normal. They do not reflect any disease or deficiency.
They are just a reflection of the stress on your muscles and will go away in a few days.

Above all, they are a testament to the fact that you are severely lacking in activity.

 

  • Medicines that cause leg cramps

Many substances can put you at night cramps, including statins, a drug prescribed to fight cholesterol.
Their common side effects are muscle pain, joint pain and cramps.

Likewise, certain substances prescribed to fight osteoporosis or menopause (estrogen) as well as some anti-inflammatory drugs, some histamines and some antibiotics have the same drawbacks.

 

  • An unbalanced PH

If the pH of the blood is too alkaline, minerals cannot be brought to the muscles.
So there is a blockage that can even generate tetany or tremors in the limbs.

 

  • Vitamin E deficiency

The role of vitamins E and B1 in restless legs appears to be proven.

Vitamin E helps transport oxygen to the muscles.
It also plays a role in the storage of glycogen, the sugar in muscle.

To benefit from all the benefits of vitamin E for cramps, be sure to avoid synthetic vitamin E and look for mixed tocopherols like this one.

It should be taken on an empty stomach, 15 minutes before a meal for it to be better assimilated.

On the other hand, you should know that the cramp has no connection with the restless legs syndrome which does not cause spasms.

 

  • Lumbar spinal stenosis causes cramps

We can suffer from lumbar stenosis and not feel pain in the lower back.
It then manifests itself in severe cramps.
Consider talking to your doctor to rule out this possibility.

* If you experience a persistent cramp, which does not give way to any movement and continues even throughout the day, be sure to consult your doctor promptly to evacuate any possibility of arterial disease or other.


Who gets leg cramps?


If the causes are not well known, we can nevertheless categorize the predispositions of patients:

  • they are more common for people over 50
  • they affect people who stress their legs during the day by being too static or sitting too much
  • they attack sore muscles, weak backs
 massage calf muscle
                                       Massage calf cramp

The diagnosis of nocturnal leg cramps


It may be useful to do some blood tests so that your doctor can identify their cause.

Some factors to consider:

– pregnancy

– dehydration

– arterial disease

– diabetes

– smoking


Treatment of nocturnal leg cramps


Some studies highlight the importance of vitamin E, D and magnesium to stop succumbing to spasms of cramps.

Of course the emphasis is also placed on perfect daily hydration.

There are also medicines for the treatment of cramps but it is best to use them only under medical supervision and when the cause of the cramps is related to an underlying disease.


Routine of the day to avoid cramps


  • In the early morning, before work, try to note which muscles are sore.
    Lower back, hips, knees, ankles?

    Do pull-ups, hip rotations for 3 minutes.
    You will notice a noticeable difference throughout the day.
  • Pay special attention to your shoes and favor absolute comfort.
    Do not hesitate to adopt an orthopedic insole to significantly reduce the pain caused by uneven support.
    Do not let any possible foot problems hang around and consult a podiatrist if necessary.
    This second point will save you a lot of pain at night.

What to do at bedtime to stop suffering from nocturnal leg cramps?


Above all, adopt a light blanket or quilt that does not put pressure on your legs.

Make sure you hydrate yourself enough before sleep.

Do some leg movements before bed for better blood flow.


Natural remedies for nocturnal leg cramps


  • The cold bomb

Emergency nocturnal cramp remedy, cold spray so popular with athletes will overcome the unbearable pain when it occurs.

 

  • Quinine

We are not talking about medicine here, but about the natural version of quinine, cinchona officinalis.

Available online and in health food stores, this form shows a formidable effectiveness against cramps.

You can also consider consuming tonic water (Schweppes) which also contains quinine.

 

  • Apple cider vinegar

The remedy certainly the most simple and versatile, you will find a devoted article to apple cider vinegar here.

You can dilute 2 tablespoons in a glass of water and take it one hour before bedtime.

Apple cider vinegar will acidify your body and help it better absorb minerals that support muscles while improving blood pH.

 

  • Electrolytes

Incorporating electrolytes (magnesium, potassium, calcium, sodium) into your drinks every day is beneficial.

Today’s life creates a lot of stress on a daily basis which results in a significant reduction in essential minerals.

When the level of cortisol increases in the body, it greatly reduces them and cramps appear.

You can now find electrolytes powder for a more convenient take.

Electolytes powder Ultima


In summary


Nocturnal leg cramps are not necessarily the first sign of illness.

On the contrary, they are mostly benign.

But they also sometimes reveal an electrolyte imbalance, the unexpected side effects of a prescribed medication, a severe lack of physical activity or unsuspected dehydration.

Identifying the cause is the only way to manage to treat them and make them disappear permanently.


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