Nighttime leg cramps are usually sudden spasms, or tightening, of muscles in the calf. The muscle cramps can sometimes happen in the thigh or the foot. They often occur just as you are falling asleep or waking up.
What causes muscle cramps?
The cause of muscle cramps isn’t always known. Muscle cramps may be brought on by many conditions or activities, such as:
Exercising, injury, or overuse of muscles.
Pregnancy. Cramps may occur because of decreased amounts of minerals, such as calcium and magnesium, especially in the later months of pregnancy.
Exposure to cold temperatures, especially to cold water.
Other medical conditions, such as blood flow problems (peripheral arterial disease), kidney disease, thyroid disease, and multiple sclerosis.
Standing on a hard surface for a long time, sitting for a long time, or putting your legs in awkward positions while you sleep.
Not having enough potassium, calcium, and other minerals in your blood.
Being dehydrated, which means that your body has lost too much fluid.
Taking certain medicines, such as antipsychotics, birth control pills, diuretics, statins, and steroids
Here are some diseases and conditions that your leg cramps may be trying to tell you about.
Peripheral artery disease, or PAD. PAD is caused by narrowing of the arteries in your legs. As a result, your legs don’t get enough blood to keep up with the demands of your body. You may experience this as leg pain, tingling and numbness mixed with occasional cramps.
Diabetes and Parkinson’s disease. Nerve pain and cramps can result from Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes or Parkinson’s disease. Allen says that if the drug gabapentin eases the pain, the problem is likely originating in the nerves, although that does not automatically mean you have diabetes. “Frankly, I often find it is a matter of trial and error,” says Allen. “If calcium channel blockers help relieve the muscle pain, I would want to screen for peripheral artery disease.”
Related: Warning: You Might Have Diabetes and Not Know It
Vascular disease. If you have persistent leg cramps, your doctor may want to rule out vascular (vein) disease or venous insufficiency, which occurs when the veins can’t pump enough blood back to the heart.
Heat exhaustion. If you’ve been exercising on a hot day, leg cramps are a sign of heat exhaustion. Get into the shade right, drink water and see a doctor if symptoms persist.
Dr. Oz, Dr. Weil, the Mayo Clinic, and other leading authorities, magnesium deficiency is the major hidden cause of muscle cramps throughout the entire body (including leg and foot cramps), and no prescription medication can fix it. In fact, 78% of leg cramp sufferers have a severe magnesium deficiency. Without magnesium, your body is missing its most important natural defense against pain, swelling, tension and inflammation. Studies show that aggressively fixing a magnesium deficiency can eliminate leg cramps and prevent them in the future.
What is the right type of magnesium to take? First, you must understand how magnesium works to relieve leg cramps from multiple angles at once — especially how it interacts with calcium.
Magnesium is Fast, Easy, Safe and POWERFUL Because it Attacks Leg Cramps from ALL Angles. How Does it Work?
This crucial mineral…
Loosens muscles by counteracting the effect of calcium, which tightens muscles. As people age, excess calcium accumulates in the muscles, causing cramps. Also, when people eat a lot of dairy and/or take calcium supplements, (especially with Vitamin D) it is easy to get calcium overload.
Increases the absorption of potassium, which is critical for proper muscle function.
Decreases pain by blocking pain receptors in the brain and nervous system.
Dampens inflammation in the muscles and the entire body.
Relaxes blood vessels and decreases blood pressure, which restores healthy circulation.
Increases the production of serotonin, GABA and melatonin, which helps you relax and fall asleep.