Leg Cramps

Leg cramps are very common but the cause in most of the cases is not known. Some preventive measures such as regular calf stretching exercises may keep you away from leg cramps. Medications are also available when the condition gets severe.


  • Variety of types and causes of muscle cramp
  • Severity of pain can vary


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0 treatment(s) for Leg Cramps

DescriptionCausesTypes of treatmentQuestions and answers

Leg cramps are sudden pains that occur in the muscle of the leg. This typically happens during the night which is referred to as nocturnal leg cramps. The pain that is felt usually lasts for a few minutes, even as little as a few seconds in some cases. If felt during the night, the pain can often be severe enough to cause a person to awake from their sleep. After the initial pain has passed, muscles can often remain tender for a subsequent 24 hours; typically, in the calf muscles and but also sometimes in the feet or thighs.


The feeling of a leg cramp can be extremely unpleasant and at times, can cause a tight or knotted sensation. It is a common condition, significantly more customary in adults who are age 50 or above but can often occur in younger adults or even children. Amongst both men and women, there is an equal spread of who becomes affected.


As a person grows older, they will typically grow far more prone to experiencing leg cramps. By the age of 60, it’s estimated that 30% of all people will experience leg cramps, and by the age of 80 this number will have grown to approximately 50%.


The exact cause of muscle cramps isn’t always known but can be brought on by various activities or underlying conditions. Some of the most common and generally harmless reasons as to why a leg cramp may occur can include:


  • Excess alcohol
  • Exercising or overusing muscles
  • Uncommon never disorders
  • Being dehydrated and your body has lost fluid
  • High or low sodium or potassium levels in the blood
  • Subjection to very cold temperatures or waters
  • An untreated underactive thyroid gland
  • Side effects of certain medications, such as antipsychotics, birth control pills, steroids, etc.
  • Sleeping with legs in an awkward position and remaining like so throughout the night


Though the vast majority of causes are totally harmless, there certainly are ones which carry a lot more attached risk and can even pint to a more serious underlying medical condition.


Some common examples of these can be:


Depletion of Minerals

If enough calcium, potassium, magnesium (or any other such minerals) is not added to your diet, this can cause leg cramps.



Insufficient Blood Supply

If a person’s arteries that carry blood to the legs began to become narrow and restricted, a cramp-like sensation in your legs can arise in the legs and feet, usually prompted by exercise. Once the physical activity is stopped, so should the pain.

If it has been established that there is an underlying cause of your leg cramps, the usual route of treatment that people will take will consist of self-care techniques such as ensuring you remain well-hydrated at all times. Cases which have no underlying cause should get better as time progresses. In greater detail, the doctor may advise that you:


Apply cold or heat to affected area: Using a cold/warm towel, a heating pad, or even applying a pack of ice on the area that is causing pain can help. Also taking a warm bath or applying steam (from a hot shower, etc.) to the cramped muscle can work effectively.


Stretch & massage: You can try stretching out the leg affected by the muscle-cramp and gently rub it. If you are in such serious pain that you find yourself unable to stand straight, try sitting on a floor or chair and completely extend the leg causing discomfort.


For some people, massaging & stretching exercise can be the only form of treatment that is required to quickly relieve a leg cramp; it can also how to reduce the frequency of them. However, if this proves ineffective, there are other options a person can take to help relieve discomfort. Some of these include:


Painkillers: This would be an obvious method to opt towards when pain suddenly arises. However, painkillers do take a certain amount of time to work and considering how short a bout of leg cramp can be, the medication may become effective too late. It would be work better if you were trying to mask ongoing discomfort which arose from an initial leg cramp.


Quinine Sulphate: This is the only medicine that we stock to treat leg cramps. There are a large number of people who benefit from taking quinine sulphate, however, no research currently exists regarding the long-term effectiveness and overall safety of the drug. If other methods have failed, quinine sulphate may be recommended to take.



If you are looking for some expert help, book an ONLINE consultation with our GMC Registered Clinicians at alldayDr.com.


Patient discretion and confidentiality top the priority list at alldayDr.com!

What are the most common causes of leg cramp?

There are many potential causes of a leg cramp, but the main ones are typically over-exercising, being dehydrated, being subjected to very cold or warm temperatures, taking certain medicines (primarily antipsychotics, birth control pills, steroids), and sleeping for long periods of time with your legs stuck in an awkward position.


What conditions can cause leg cramps to occur?

There are many conditions that exist which can cause leg cramps to occur and the onset of this could point to such underlying conditions. Some of these include ageing, excessive alcohol use, drug withdrawal (primarily benzodiazepines), low potassium levels, dehydration, pregnancy, and vitamin deficiencies.


What diseases can cause leg cramps to occur?

Sometimes a spell of leg cramp can be a sign of a more serious underlying disease. Such diseases could include diabetes, fibromyalgia, dialysis patients, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, poor circulation.


If I’m pregnant, what steps can I take to prevent leg cramps?

During pregnancy, it can be a little harder to follow the conventional steps of preventing leg cramps. You can still undergo stretching exercises (though maybe not as extreme), drink plenty of fluids, stay active, eat well-balanced meals and ensure you are intaking enough nutrients.



If you are looking for some expert help, book an ONLINE consultation with our GMC Registered Clinicians at alldayDr.com.


Patient discretion and confidentiality top the priority list at alldayDr.com!