Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors
"Why do my legs cramp up at night?"
I am a 27 year old father of one. every night without fail my leggs get terrible cramps, i have to move them continuously to help aleviate the pain. to try and cure the problem i have tried taking tylenol, that seemed to make it worse. are there any natural things i can do or take to make the horrible pain stop? what should i do?
Nocturnal leg cramps are a painful but harmless (i.e. they cause no permanent damage, although they certainly make for a poor night of sleep!) condition that affects people of all ages. These cramps are sometimes associated with electrolyte imbalances, classically low potassium, low calcium or low magnesium in the blood, but most of the time they occur in people with no real electrolyte abnormalities or predisposing health condition and thus are termed 'idiopathic nocturnal leg cramps.' another classic scenario in which cramping occurs is after a day of hard exercise or heavy sweating without proper hydration. So, all that being said, the big question that most patients have is what can be done to help with the painful cramps. there are several approaches to treatment, but I normally always begin with the following: -adequate hydration throughout the day and before bed -try a daily multivitamin with calcium and potassium -5 minutes of leg stretching before bed -sleep with sheet untucked so as not to put downward pressure on your toes (this puts your calf muscles in a vulnerable position for cramps. -try a glass of tonic water (with quinine) before bed, quinine has been shown in several studies to help with nocturnal leg cramping -avoid alcohol, especially before bed if these interventions do not help, there are some medications that have shown to be variably effective, namely benadryl, diltiazem, gabapentin and hydroxyquinine. Hope this helps!
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