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Night leg cramps also known as nocturnal leg cramps are painful contractions or spasms of the leg muscles that occur while the person is sleeping during the night. Medical experts explain that the leg cramps usually involve the calf muscles as well as the muscles in the feet or thighs. The nocturnal leg cramps cause unbearable pain that wakes up the person.

What causes the night leg cramps?

Prolonged hours of inactivity of your body is the main cause for these muscles cramps. Sometimes the leg cramps last several seconds but also might last up to a few minutes.

Patients who suffer from night leg cramps explain that sometimes they feel soreness in the muscles during the entire night or even the following day after the cramps have passed.

Medical experts explain that night leg cramps appear at people older than 50 years and affect both men and women. However even younger people experience unbearable pain due to muscle cramps.

What is RLS?

RLS or restless leg syndrome also appears while the person is sleeping, but this medical condition is not the same as the night leg cramps. In fact, these two medical conditions are quite different.

The RLS causes discomfort or crawling feeling in the legs and doesn’t cause any pain. By moving your leg or with gentle massage you will experience relief of the RLS. On the other side, even if you move your legs during the nocturnal leg cramps, you will not experience relief of the pain.

Despite the fact that the specific cause for nocturnal leg cramps still isn’t known, doctors explain that there are certain risk factors including medical conditions that lead to muscle cramps during the night:

  • Improper sitting position
  • Standing or working on concrete floors for a long period of time
  • Pregnancy
  • Over-exertion of the muscles in the leg
  • Sitting for prolonged periods of time
  • Neuromuscular disorders
  • Diuretics, statins, beta agonists
  • Alcoholism
  • Dehydration
  • Structural disorders such as flat feet
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Endocrine disorders such as diabetes

The muscle cramps cause unbearable pain and when the cramps appear the sufferer experiences extreme pain and feels practically paralyzed.

How to relieve the pain caused the night leg cramps?

Next time you start experiencing nocturnal leg cramps you should try this simple trick: sit on a flat surface (for example on the floor) and extend both of your legs. Then, slowly flex your feet at the ankles and try to point your toes toward your knees. After that, gently massage the muscles in while you feel the pain and then get up and start walking around the room. On this way the pain will disappear and you will experience a relief.


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Written by AJ