Muscle cramps are strong, painful contractions or tightening of the muscles, which occurs suddenly and lasts from a few seconds to several minutes, usually in the legs.
Night leg cramps are usually sudden spasms or muscle contractions of the lower leg, and sometimes the thigh or foot. They often occur immediately after you fall asleep or upon waking.
What causes muscle cramps?
To cramps in the muscles can result in various conditions or activities, such as:
Exercise, injury or overstressing the muscles
Pregnancy – cramps can occur due to reduced amounts of minerals such as calcium and magnesium, especially in the later months of pregnancy
Exposure to low temperatures, especially cold water
Other medical conditions, such as problems with blood flow (peripheral arterial disease), kidney, thyroid or multiple sclerosis
Prolonged standing on a hard surface, sit or holding a leg in awkward positions during sleep
The lack of calcium and other minerals in the blood
Taking certain drugs, such as antipsychotics, birth control pills, diuretics, steroids, and statins.
How to stop muscle cramps?
You may need to try a few different ways to stop the muscle spasms before you find the one that suits you best.
Some of the methods that you can try are:
Stretching and muscle massage
A warm shower or putting on muscle heated pads
Putting ice on muscle (never not put it directly on the skin, but to use older fabric or cloth)
Take painkillers, such as acetaminophen, ibuprofen or naproxen.
Read and follow all instructions on medicines.
Drink lots of fluids or sports drinks
If you have a cramp in your leg, you can try the following:
Walk or shaking foot
Stretching the muscles while sitting or standing
While sitting, straighten the leg and foot stretch to the knees. You can also take a towel, placing it on your foot and pull both ends slightly toward the knee.
Until you stand, about half a meter from the wall, lean forward and hold his affected leg in a plane with the heel, while the other knee bend.
If you feel muscle cramps caused by the use of certain drugs:
Before re-take medication, consult a physician. He may recommend another medication or will adjust the dose.
If you are taking any medication that is not prescribed by a doctor, stop taking it until you consult with your doctor.
The following tips may help prevent leg cramps:
Drink plenty of water and other liquids
Limit or avoid alcohol and caffeine, which promote dehydration of the organism
Make sure you eat healthy foods (especially during pregnancy), especially foods rich in calcium, potassium, and magnesium
Ride your bike or exercise bike
Stretch your muscles every day, especially before and after exercise and before bedtime
Do not suddenly increase the intensity of exercise
Drink multivitamin supplements
What if the leg cramps regularly repeated?
Consult with your doctor if you have recurrent cramps in the legs or they are especially intense. These may be symptoms of other problems, such as restless legs syndrome.
If recurrent cramps, bother you greatly hinder or sleeping, your doctor may prescribe medication to relax the muscles.