Leg cramps are not, in themselves, a serious illness, but they go hand in hand with many chronic disorders, and they can be miserable to those afflicted by them. A cramp, by definition, is a painful tightening of muscle that can last a few seconds or several minutes. They can also come in waves, you may have one, or you may have several, coming one on top of another. This can prevent quality sleep, which leads to a whole new set of problems. It also lessens a person’s quality of life.
Causes of leg cramps include, but are not limited to, muscle soreness from exercise, dehydration, pregnancy, depletion of necessary nutrients, chronic illness or autoimmune disease, extended periods of sitting, standing for extended periods on a hard surface, and certain medications.
Things you can try include epsom soaks or compresses, warm shower, drinking more water, adding potassium rich foods to your diet, gentle stretching as in Pilates or Yoga, massage, ice packs, heat packs, (or both, alternate ice and heat for 20 minutes each) pain medications like ibuprofen, Tylenol, and Aleve, anti-inflammatory foods and supplements, talk to your health care professional about the cramping, if it’s caused by medication there may be a similar alternative. If there is a more serious underlying cause it’s good to start working on it as soon as possible. These supplements also help to reduce and prevent muscle cramps before happening: potassium and magnesium.
No one should have to live with ongoing pain. Education is the first step to a healthier, happier life.