Legs That Cramp in the Night

Those painful leg cramps and "charley horses" that strike in the middle of the night can awaken their slumbering victims with an agonizing jolt. Described as a sharp, shooting, excruciating pain in the lower leg that refuses to relax or ease on its own, a leg cramp is a muscle that is tightening for one reason or another. Finding relief depends on pinpointing the cause of the cramp. Though they vary from person to person, some known causes are:

o strenuous exercise

o wearing high heels

o diabetes

o weight gain

o pregnancy

o low potassium levels

o poor circulation

o high stress

People diagnosed with low potassium may find relief from nighttime leg cramps simply by eating a banana every day to boost their potassium level. For those suffering from poor circulation and those under too much stress, regular massage therapy stimulates
circulation to the legs and relieves tension and stress. A brisk walk several hours before going to sleep, followed by a cool-down stretch and warm bath, also improves circulation and relaxes the body.

A Sound Sleep

How can you keep leg cramps at bay and bring the sound back into your sleep?

o Keep your sleep schedule regulated.

o Sleep on your side to keep toes from pointing.

o Stretch your muscles regularly.;

In cases where the cause of the leg cramp is unknown, remedies found to provide relief are: analgesic creams, quinine tablets and/or prescription muscle relaxants.


Lowell General Hospital, 295 Varnum Avenue, Lowell, Massachusetts 01854, Main Telephone: (978) 937-6000
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