Night cramps serve as painful experience at night when the muscles suddenly contract. The cramp usually lasts from a few seconds up to several minutes and it usually affects the leg muscles, which include the muscles of the thigh, calf, and foot. The condition happens either while asleep or upon waking up. The following are the causes, signs and symptoms, and remedies for night cramps.
Night cramps have various causes. According to Web MD, these include exercising, injury, muscle overuse, pregnancy, exposure to cold temperatures, standing on a hard surface for a long time, sitting for a long time, putting the legs in awkward positions during sleep, lack of minerals like potassium and calcium, being dehydrated, medical conditions (peripheral arterial disease, multiple sclerosis, thyroid disease, and kidney disease), and medication use, which includes steroids, diuretics, statins, birth control pills, and antipsychotics.
Signs and Symptoms
Night cramps are involuntary and painful muscle contractions at night. According to My Cleveland Clinic, they awaken the person during sleep; although they may also happen during periods of inactivity. The pain from the contractions usually affects the calf muscles, but it may also include the thighs and the feet. The affects muscles feel tight or knotted and this may last from a few seconds to several minutes. Following the cramp, the muscle may be sore. As per the publication, night cramps are more common in adults aged 50 years and above; however, they may also occur in young adults and children.
The medical management for night camps usually involves medications, such as diphenhydramine, calcium channel blockers, quinines, magnesium supplements, vitamin B, and vitamin E. In addition, home remedies can also be done to manage the condition.
One remedy for night cramps is hydration. According to Mayo Clinic, drinking water and other fluids throughout the day prevents dehydration and it allows smooth muscle contraction and relaxation. In addition, fluid replacement is essential during physical activity to prevent electrolyte imbalances, such as potassium and calcium, which are responsible for muscle contraction.
Another remedy for night cramps is the application of pressure on the involve area. According to Best Health Magazine, the person locates the epicenter of the muscle cramp and presses into the said spot with his thumb, with the heel of his hand, or a loosely clenched fist. As per the publication, the person holds the pressure for ten seconds and presses again as certain level of discomfort is expected but it should not be excruciating pain. The pain from the cramp should decrease following a number of repetitions.
Night cramps can also be managed by yellow mustard. According to the statement of a source named Sandy, as cited by People’s Pharmacy, his tennis-playing teenage daughter had once witnessed him in inconsolable pain and had run to the fridge for the bottle of yellow mustard. He also said that it was like a miracle, since all other attempts to control the pain had failed. He added that he had suffered both front and back cramps in his thighs that had left him in tears for hours. As per Sandy, his daughter had heard about the home remedy from a school coach.
Stretching, Heat and Cold Application
Stretching the muscles and applying heat and cold also help in the management of night cramps. According to Web MD, the person may stretch and massage the muscle, take a warm shower or bath or use a heating pad to relax the muscle, as well as using an ice or cold pack to reduce the pain.
Night cramps are very painful and disturbing due to the involuntary muscle contractions of the legs. It is best to seek medical consult if the cramping occurs very frequently and is associated with other symptoms like body weakness.