Leg cramps are a common condition that affects the muscles in feet, thighs, and calves. Leg cramps occur when the muscles in your legs contract involuntarily, which can cause pain and tenderness in the affected area. The pain can last between a few seconds to a few minutes, but the tenderness can remain for several hours.
Majority cases occur when the person is either sleeping or resting. Leg cramps are usually harmless but can be linked to underlying medical conditions like diabetes and vascular diseases.
When the muscles in your leg involuntarily contract, you will experience sudden, shooting pain, and you may even feel a knot in the muscle tissue in the affected area. The muscles in the affected area become tight, and the pain can be uncomfortable. A cramping episode can last between a few seconds to ten minutes. It is more common to get cramps in the calf muscles than the thighs and feet.
Leg cramps cannot be traced to one single cause. However, here are some factors that can contribute to leg cramps:
Sometimes, the blood supply to muscles can be restricted due to the narrowing of the arteries. It can lead to cramps in your legs and feet, especially when exercising. Abnormal nerve activity: It is very common to experience leg cramps while sleeping at night. This is mostly triggered by increased nerve activity, with the nerves carrying too many signals to the muscles, making them feel knotted or contracted.
It is very common to experience leg cramps while sleeping at night. This is mostly triggered by increased nerve activity, with the nerves carrying too many signals to the muscles, making them feel knotted or contracted.
An inactive lifestyle can lead to leg cramps. This happens as the muscles do not get the regular stretching they need to function well.
With age, the tendons connecting the bones and muscles tend to shorten, leading to muscle cramps. Sedentary lifestyle: An inactive lifestyle can lead to leg cramps. This happens as the muscles do not get the regular stretching they need to function well.
Not drinking enough water can prevent the muscles from functioning, which can lead to cramps.
In some cases, the cause of leg cramps can be linked to medical conditions. For example:
When having cramps, gently massage and rub the affected muscle to help it loosen and relax. For cramps in your calf muscles, try stretching and straightening your leg with your toes pointing upwards. Hold the leg in this position until the cramp has passed. Walking on your heels for a couple of minutes will also help relieve the cramp.
If a cramp is severe and the muscle tenderness persists even after stretching and exercise, you may require an over-the-counter painkiller. Anti-inflammatory drugs like Ibuprofen, Naproxen, or Paracetamol can help relieve the pain.
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