In general, night leg cramps are likely to be related to muscle fatigue and nerve problems. Most people who experience them don’t need medical treatment. Leg cramps during sleep are more common among women and older adults. Coronavirus Vaccine: Will Medicare Cover It? Waking up several times a night with leg cramps. Discover the relationship between bipolar and anxiety disorders, which can often co-occur. But does it work? You can be awake or asleep when a leg cramp strikes. This content does not have an Arabic version. Often there is no official cause for the leg spasms; however, there are conditions or medications that can cause them. Night leg cramps, also called nocturnal leg cramps, are painful, involuntary contractions or spasms of muscles in your legs, usually occurring when you're in bed. What can you do to prevent leg cramps at night? Diuretics help the body get rid of excess fluid by moving it into the urine. Monderer RS, et al. Some research suggests diabetes is linked to an increased frequency of painful leg cramps. Unfortunately, the treatment options are limited since no one knows what causes leg cramps in the first place. Eventually the pain subsides, but then it happens a few more times during the night. Healthline Media does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This shortens the calf muscles, making them more susceptible to cramping. Leg cramps most often affect the gastrocnemius muscle (calf muscle) which spans the back of each leg from the ankle to the knee. Learn about 20 triggers, from…. Can Testosterone Supplements Improve Your Sex Drive? A January 2013 AARP.com article listed eight common types of medications that can cause nighttime leg cramps: 1. Sudden, sharp pain, most often in the back of the leg 2. Forcefully stretching the contracted muscle relieves the pain. Sitting for long periods of time or otherwise being inactive may make the muscles in your … Cramps are episodes of pain usually lasting up to a couple minutes caused by a sudden intense involuntary contraction of the muscles. Garrison SR, et al. The following tips may help you avoid leg cramps while sleeping: If you’ve ever experienced leg cramps at night, you know how painful they can be. Any use of this site constitutes your agreement to the Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy linked below. Poor circulation is most common in your extremities, such as your legs and arms. If the leg cramps become persistent, a doctor's visit may be needed to determine the cause. Muscle cramps are a common cause for leg pain at night. Nighttime leg cramps. Salt. Our website services, content, and products are for informational purposes only. Nighttime leg cramps—also called nocturnal leg cramps—can jolt a person awake in the middle of the night. They involve sudden, painful, and involuntary contractions of a leg muscle. Spicy Drinks May Be the Key to Relieving Muscle Cramps, COVID-19 Decision Fatigue: What It Is and How to Deal With It. Nighttime leg pain could be a sign of the worst form of PAD – critical limb ischemia (CLI). 2010;10:53. This is most likely due to fluid imbalances of electrolytes (mainly sodium, potassium, calcium, and magnesium). 2. neurological disorders, such as motor neuron disease or, musculoskeletal disorders, such as osteoarthritis, cardiovascular conditions, such as heart disease or peripheral vascular disease. Mayo Clinic offers appointments in Arizona, Florida and Minnesota and at Mayo Clinic Health System locations. They can last several seconds to several minutes. Perhaps you’ve been there—in the middle of a perfectly restful night of sleep you are abruptly woken up by an intense pain from a cramping muscle, typically in your foot or calf. Find out whether it’ll be covered, when it might be available, whether COVID-19 tests are covered…. Tattoo aftercare starts as soon as your tattoo is done. Advertising revenue supports our not-for-profit mission. Pregnant women are extremely prone to leg cramps at night, especially during the second and third trimesters. These cramps can happen anywhere in your body. Wilkinson JM (expert opinion). Nighttime leg cramps usually involve the calf muscles or the foot muscles. 1 Up to 20% of patients who experience leg cramps have troublesome enough daily symptoms that they seek medical attention. Several conditions, such as kidney failure and diabetic nerve damage, are known to cause night leg cramps. If you ever had muscle cramps at night (“Charley Horse”) you know how painful that can be. 2012;172:120. Check out these best-sellers and special offers on books and newsletters from Mayo Clinic. Cramps have many reasons. Dehydration. Fortunately, they’re usually not a sign of a serious problem. Nighttime or nocturnal leg cramps, which affect more than half of adults, can also be triggered by tiredness. Forcefully stretching the contracted muscle relieves the pain. Archives of Internal Medicine. Nocturnal leg cramps and prescription use that precedes them. Blood, urine and other routine tests are not helpful in diagnosing leg cramps but they may help identify previously undiagnosed medical conditions that have leg cramps as a symptom. Learn about shared symptoms, challenges, therapy, and more. However, they can also affect the muscles at the front of each thigh (quadriceps) and the back of each thigh (hamstrings). Short-acting loop diuretics. Symptoms of nocturnal leg cramps include excruciating contractions of the calf muscles, and sometimes of the foot muscles as well. Most of the time, the muscle relaxes itself in less than 10 minutes. They are, however, associated with the following conditions: Though leg cramps at night can be intensely painful, they aren’t typically serious. Inactivity. Vaccine updates, safe care and visitor guidelines, and trusted coronavirus information, Mayo Clinic Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, Mayo Clinic School of Continuous Professional Development, Mayo Clinic School of Graduate Medical Education, FREE book offer – Mayo Clinic Health Letter. If your cramps are related to another medical condition, they can help manage that too. Check if it's leg cramps Leg cramps happen when a muscle suddenly shortens and becomes tight (spasms). Nocturnal leg cramps are a tight, knotted feeling in your legs that happens at night. Night leg cramps usually involve your calf muscles, although muscles in your feet or thighs might cramp as well. Leg cramps can be excruciating, and they often attack when you’re sound asleep. Leg cramps at night, or nocturnal leg cramps, are common and can occur due to inactivity during the day, tired muscles, or certain medical conditions. © 2005-2020 Healthline Media a Red Ventures Company. The pain is intense enough to make you want to scream. Not staying hydrated with enough water during the day may be one of the big causes of leg cramps at night. Here are a few: Tight muscles – Some people just have tight hamstrings or … Allen RE, et al. In some cases, such as night leg cramps, the cause of leg cramps is unknown. In most cases, nocturnal leg cramps are idiopathic, which means their exact cause isn’t known. It is a very common muscle problem. We often sleep with our feet and toes extending away from the rest of our bodies, a position called plantar flexion. Muscle cramps in other parts of the body, besides the legs and feet. "Mayo," "Mayo Clinic," "MayoClinic.org," "Mayo Clinic Healthy Living," and the triple-shield Mayo Clinic logo are trademarks of Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. Our general interest e-newsletter keeps you up to date on a wide variety of health topics. The muscle cramps in your leg are so powerful that it feels strangely reminiscent of labor pains. There is research to suggest they might be hereditary – especially if the problem starts in childhood and occurs frequently. 2. Nocturnal leg cramps. It’s a crawling sensation that … Sound familiar? Company begins phase II clinical trial for “hot” drink to help relieve muscle cramps in people with multiple sclerosis. Leg cramps are very common and usually harmless. Although they're most common in people over 50, they can happen to younger people and children. Diabetes, hypertension, arthritis, neurological disease, and depression are … Experts don’t know exactly what causes leg cramps at night. Antibiotics may not always do the trick, so many people turn to more natural ways of dealing with pain. They can happen at any time, but most people have them at night or when resting. In most cases, nocturnal leg cramps are idiopathic, which means their exact cause isn’t known. One big cause of leg cramps — and muscle cramps in general — is dehydration. All rights reserved. With CLI, the pain attacks in your legs or feet can persist for minutes to hours. Night leg cramps usually involve your calf muscles, although muscles in your feet or thighs might cramp as well. Uncontrollable contraction of the muscle 3. Leg cramps are painful contractions of the leg muscles; the incidence of leg cramps increases with age. A person is usually also dehydrated when he overuses the leg muscles, furthering the risk of cramps. The risk of having night leg cramps increases with age. A quivering sensation in the muscle 4. Imagine you’re lying down and your lower leg seizes. In fact, sometimes it even seems to ebb and flow in that same manner, just like contractions. Nighttime leg cramps (also called Nocturnal Leg Cramps) are caused by a multitude of factors including magnesium deficiency, disrupted Circadian Rhythm, damaged or overactive nerves, activity levels and stress. American Family Physician. Doctors said that leg pain can, in some cases, be an early warning sign of a deadly stroke or heart attack. A single copy of these materials may be reprinted for noncommercial personal use only. Typical symptoms include:2 1. Winkelman JW. 2012;86:350. Learn more about the symptoms and causes of poor circulation. For example, your healthcare provider will likely perform typical tests such as taking your blood pressure, and that can reveal cardiac and vascular risks. Although both nocturnal leg cramps (leg cramps at night) and restless legs syndrome tend to happen to you at night or when you’re at rest, restless legs syndrome doesn’t cause the severe pain. Here’s what the research has to say. Frequent calf cramps at night can disrupt your sleep. © 1998-2020 Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research (MFMER). Leg cramps, or Charley horses, are a common problem that affects the feet, calves, and thigh muscles. How can muscle cramps happen to kidney diseasepatients? Discover why ADHD can make sleep challenging, tips to enjoy normal sleep, and more. Restless legs syndrome is uncomfortable, but not agonizing. Night leg cramps, also called nocturnal leg cramps, are painful, involuntary contractions or spasms of muscles in your legs, usually occurring when you're in bed. Studies show magnesium supplementation alone … Shoe insoles may help alleviate the pain caused by leg cramps. Leg cramps that prevent you from getting enough sleep. Injury to the muscle is another common cause of leg cramps, as is a lack of certain minerals. 1. Nocturnal leg cramps can lead to a rude awakening: You’re suddenly sleepless and in pain in the middle of the night. Leg cramps usually last less than a minute but may endure for several before the contractions finally subside. Take a look at the connection between ADHD and sleep disorders. But most experts say there’s no certain answer to what causes leg cramps at night. Most of the times, these cramps occur in the calf muscles (the back of your leg, underneath your knee), but they can also occur in any other group of muscles. Leg cramps … Can You Have Bipolar Disorder and an Anxiety Disorder at the Same Time? The electrolyte shifts that happen on the low-carb diet are largely the result of the loss of salt … Experts say the number of decisions and the consequences of those decisions during COVID-19 may be factors in this fatigue. Why they’re prescribed: Diuretics (also called water pills) are used to treat high blood pressure, congestive heart failure and edema, among other conditions. Leg pain at night can be a sign of a serious condition, and only a healthcare professional can diagnose you with PAD. This site complies with the HONcode standard for trustworthy health information: verify here. You can try the following at home to try to relieve a cramp: If frequent cramps are disrupting your sleep, make an appointment with your doctor. Pregnant women also have a higher likelihood of having night leg cramps. They might prescribe a muscle relaxant to prevent cramps. Nighttime leg cramps may be related to foot position. Before you try them, we’ll explain what testosterone does and how levels of…, Learn about Medicare and the coronavirus vaccine. Pickle juice has become a popular remedy for leg cramps over the years. Cramps occur at night during deep sleep. Leg … As such, … There are, however, known factors that can increase your risk. Accessed Nov. 28, 2015. They’re common in your legs. This is because cramps can be a marker of … Mayo Clinic does not endorse companies or products. It usually occurs in the calf muscles, although it can affect any part of your leg, including your feet and thighs. Studies do find that certain factors increase your risk. http://www.uptodate.com/home. 6 Nocturnal leg cramps. Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Dec. 1, 2015. … Overuse of the muscles, perhaps from exercising, gardening or other physical activities. Nocturnal leg cramps. Fluids hydrate the muscles, allowing them to contract and relax with ease. Find out what causes leg cramps here. Plus, restless leg syndrome is more of a discomfort or crawling sensation that makes you want to move your legs. Ongoing aching and fatigue following muscle relaxation In some people, the spasms occur primarily at nightand can awaken the patient from sleep… All rights reserved. About leg cramps Leg cramps are a common and usually harmless condition where the muscles in your leg suddenly become tight and painful. They often appear at night and can be very painful. After the cramping has passed, you may have pain and tenderness in your leg for several hours. Current Neurology and Neuroscience Reports. Your leg might feel sore or tender for up to a day afterward. Other factors that may contribute to nighttime leg cramps include: Leg cramps at night are unlikely to be the first sign of a more serious medical condition. According to American Family Physician, nocturnal leg cramps affect up to 60 percent of adults. Apply a warm heating pad to the area that is cramping. Leg cramps can strike during the day as well, especially during physical activities. Learn how to care for your tattoo, what to expect in the first month, the signs of infection…, You may have heard that testosterone supplements can help in the bedroom. Stretching the calf and hamstring muscles before bed may help to prevent nocturnal leg cramps. It doesn’t let up, and your muscle is hard to the touch. This content does not have an English version. The truth is, experts don’t know the exact causes of nighttime leg cramps. There are a few things you can do to stop or relieve legs cramps during your period. Restless leg syndrome does not cause pain or cramping unlike leg cramps at night. When you try to move your leg, it feels paralyzed. A charley horse is a muscle spasm -- when a muscle suddenly tightens up on its own. Certain health conditions. If the cramp is … Nighttime leg cramps may be related to foot position. Sometimes referred to as muscle spasms or charley horses, they occur when one or more of the muscles in the leg tighten involuntarily. 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