Have you ever been woken up in the middle of the night by a strong cramp in your leg that felt as if it was going to tear your muscle apart? A nighttime spasm or tightening of a muscle is a common, usually harmless, occurrence that most often affects muscles of the calf, thigh or foot.
I can vouch for the agony of nighttime cramps, occurring for me at times, waking me up and leaping out of bed. Awfully painful.
It can cause a lot of pain and steal away a chunk of your precious sleep. Although no one is immune to them, cramps are more common in older people, and about 1 in 3 people over the age of 60 experience them regularly.
There are some simple steps you can take to prevent the cramps and ease their onset. In some cases, it’s also important to look for the underlying cause and address it.
What Causes Muscle Cramps?
In many cases, the reason for these painful contractions is unknown – in the medical jargon, the condition is referred to as ‘idiopathic leg cramps’.
Other reasons could be:
Extreme exercise – you may have been exercising a lot and the muscles got tired, so they started to spasm.
Pregnancy – pregnancy can be associated with nighttime cramps, especially in the later stages.
In some cases, however, cramps are a symptom of another problem you might not even be aware of. Some of the conditions that can cause leg cramps include:
Dehydration – when your body loses a lot of fluids, the salt levels get depleted, which can trigger the muscles in the legs to contract. Usually, the reason for dehydration is not drinking enough, but severe diarrhea and vomiting can cause it as well. Make sure you are aware of the 7 warning signs of dehydration.
Deficiency in potassium, calcium or other minerals.
Specific medical conditions such as kidney disease, thyroid disease (see the signs in this post), liver problems and multiple sclerosis.
Conditions that affect the blood flow, for example, peripheral arterial disease.
Some infections or exposure to toxins – for example, high levels of lead or mercury can result in leg cramps. You may want to try my heavy metal detox smoothie.
Remainder of this article: Healthy and Natural World