Saturday, October 6, 2012

Leg Cramps at Night: Finding out the Real Causes

By Seomul Evans

A lot of people experience leg cramps at night and some of the causes can be really concerning. Muscles contract because the brain is sending signals to it. This has led some medical specialists to believe that muscle cramps at night are caused by neurological disorders. These leg cramps at night usually occur when the brain is trying to transition from wakefulness to sleeping. While serious nocturnal leg cramps may be a cause of concern for some, mild ones are as common as sleep talking and sleep starts.

Possible Causes of Skeletal Cramps at Night

While neurological problems are usually the reason for severe leg cramps at night, there are other less serious and treatable causes. If you are pregnant and if you have just recently gained a lot of weight, skeletal cramps at night are bound to bother you frequently. You can simply massage the affected leg when this happens until your muscles stop contracting, and attempt to stretch them. Some exercises which are safe for pregnant women help you prevent leg cramps at night.

You may also be dehydrated. This can be solved simply by drinking a full glass of water before bedtime, relieving yourself before going to sleep, and having a glass of water handy on your bedside just in case you feel thirsty in between sleep. People who have gotten into the habit of drinking water in between their sleep are less likely to suffer from nocturnal leg cramps.

If you have had an injury, whether it's skeletal or muscular, you will definitely experience leg cramps at night. You might even experience leg cramps while you're awake. This is because your body has a natural protective mechanism. If your muscle or your bone is injured, your brain would do everything it could to try to prevent it from too much movement. Nocturnal leg cramps while you're injured is nothing to be afraid of. All you have to do is massage the muscle when your cramps happen and apply warm compress to it. You might even be given muscle relaxants if the cramps are severe enough.

Certain medications may also cause nocturnal leg cramps. This could be because they're affecting the amount of water that's being absorbed by your body, or they're directly affecting your brain's signals (in the same way medicines cause drowsiness). This then causes a temporary neurological problem. Usually, these cramps go away once you've stopped taking the medicines, and most medicines have benefits which outweigh the discomfort of nocturnal cramps. If you find yourself too bothered by the side effects, though, you can tell your physician so you can have another medicine.


The most basic treatments for leg cramps which occur at night are rehydration, massages, stretching, and whenever safe, the prescription of muscle relaxants. However, if you find that these spasms are caused by neurological disorders, you may need to go for a physical therapy. During therapy, your muscles will be trained to intercept signals from the brain correctly again. Therapists may also train your muscles to develop faster especially after an injury.

Some patients whose muscle cramps are caused by nutritional deficiencies are asked to take supplements or make changes in their diets. Usually, these people lack potassium, Vitamin B, or magnesium. You should consult your doctor first before taking any supplements because of muscle cramps because your cramps could be caused by something else entirely.

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