Nocturnal Leg Cramps -


Nocturnal leg cramps also called leg cramps, muscle tightness of the leg, muscle hardness, nocturnal leg pain, or Charley-horse are painful, unpleasant sensations occurring due to tightness or tension in the muscles, usually the calves or sometimes in the feet or the sole of the feet during sleep. These may last for a few minutes.
These are usually seen in the elderly and among pregnant women.
Symptoms of Nocturnal Leg Cramps -
The most common symptoms are painful sensation in the legs or calves, awakening frequently from sleep, discomfort in the legs.
More about Nocturnal Leg Cramps -
Leg cramps during sleep usually are a result of tightness in the muscles and inactivity or exaggeration of a normal muscle reflex. When person turns or changes position in his sleep, the calf muscles are contracted and the tendons are stretched. When this happens the nerve stretch receptors in the tendons are stimulated to send a message to the spinal cord for contracting the calf muscles. As a result, the muscles remain contracted for a longer time causing the cramps. Nerve damages caused by nerve pinching, muscle damage, partial obstruction of blood flow to the legs, abnormal mineral or hormone levels are some other causes leading to leg cramps.
Prevention / Treatment -
Grasping the toes and pulling them towards you, stretching the calf muscles help in reliving the pain caused due to nocturnal leg cramps. Regular stretching of muscles and exercises also helps. If they are not of serious types, cramps during the night can be prevented by exhausting the stretch reflex before going to bed, by stretching the calf muscles, by doing the wall pushups.
Stretching exercises like "runner's stretch" and "stair stretch" for 30 seconds help. "Runner's stretch" is leaning against the wall, stepping forward, and leaving the back foot flat on the floor. "Stair stretch" is standing on the edge of a stair, holding a banister and dropping the heels
Using a heating pad for 10 minutes before sleeping also helps.
Quinine is also effective in treating the cramps. Doctors usually prescribe 1 or 2 pills to be taken before going to bed. Pregnant ladies have to consult the doctor before using them as they are said to cause miscarriages and birth defects. They may also cause headache, chest pain, nausea and asthma.

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