The muscles of the legs and feet are subject to involuntary contractions called spasms or tonic spasms. This condition is accompanied by acute pain, which can last 3-5 minutes, and a feeling of intense tension, “fossilized” muscles. Coping with spasms is easy if you know their causes and a few effective treatments.
Why cramps legs?
Muscle contractions can occur in both healthy people and those suffering from serious chronic diseases. In the first case, the causes of seizures are as follows:
- strong and prolonged tension of a certain muscle group;
- long stay of the leg in one position;
- low ambient air or water temperature;
- a sharp increase in load with poor fitness;
- seasonal deficiency of trace elements and vitamins.
In healthy adults, leg cramps are rare and resolve quickly without recurrence. If tonic spasms appear regularly and are characterized by a duration of several minutes, it is necessary to look for provoking factors in violations of the internal organs and systems. There are 3 options for dangerous reasons, from which it cramps legs:
- water-electrolyte imbalance;
- improper blood circulation in soft tissues;
- neurological diseases.
It is difficult to figure out why muscle contractions occur on your own. To make a diagnosis, you will have to visit a specialist, describe in detail to him the clinical signs accompanying seizures, and pass the prescribed tests. At the consultation, it is important to indicate at what time of the day the problem appears, how often, and to name the muscle group that hurts more.
Leg cramps at night – causes
Intense spasms in the soft tissues indicate the accumulation of lactic acid in them. Its amount increases if a person sleeps in a hot and cramped room with a lack of oxygen. Another common reason why it cramps legs at night is vascular disorders in combination with muscle overload the day before. Due to their overvoltage, the outflow of venous blood during sleep is reduced, and the flow of biological fluid in the arteries is slowed down. This causes spastic phenomena, pain syndrome and a feeling of “petrification” of the limb.
Cramps the calves of the legs
The lower legs are subject to involuntary contractions more often than other muscles, as they experience a greater load during the day. Tonic leg cramps can occur for the following reasons:
- cirrhosis of the liver;
- varicose disease;
- plasma transfusion;
- inadequate treatment with diuretics;
- chronic renal failure;
- intoxication of the body against the background of a bacterial or viral infection;
- Raynaud’s disease;
- violation of cerebral circulation;
- epileptic seizures with convulsions;
- knee injuries and bone fractures;
- spastic paralysis;
- heavy bleeding;
- endocrine pathologies;
- improper rehydration therapy.
Brief leg cramps are also seen in pregnant women, especially during the second and third trimesters. For the full growth and formation of the bone structures of the fetus, an increased intake of calcium and potassium is required, therefore, in many expectant mothers, the concentration of these trace elements in the body decreases and short-term spasms occur.
The contraction of the muscles of the feet appears either due to a deterioration in blood circulation in small arteries and capillaries, or against the background of anomalies of the ligaments and joints. Cramps of the foot and toes are observed due to such factors:
- obliterating endarteritis;
- transverse flat feet;
- violation of tissue utilization of carbohydrates;
- increased stress on the toes.
What to do with leg cramps?
Methods of emergency stop of spastic contraction:
- active limb massage;
- gentle stretching of the muscles of the foot or lower leg;
- tissue relaxation.
Sometimes the attack is felt in advance. A person feels tension, numbness and growing pulling pain in the legs – cramps begin with these symptoms. If any of the following symptoms appear, you must:
- Change the position of the limb, rotate it.
- Try to relax your leg muscles as much as possible.
- Normalize blood circulation in the legs and feet.
Leg cramps at night – what to do?
The fastest method of dealing with spasms involves stretching the muscle. To eliminate night cramps in the legs, you should use your hands to pull your toes towards you. At the same time, you need to try to fully straighten the knee so that the soft tissues relax. There are also too frequent leg cramps at night – what to do:
- Quickly take an upright position or sit down with your feet flat on the floor. It is advisable to walk on a cool surface.
- Gently rub the tense muscle. Stroking, patting on the leg and shaking will help.
- Raise the limbs by placing a high pillow or folded blanket under the heels.
How to relieve leg cramps?
Emergency treatment options for tonic spasms include strong pinching of contracted muscles and pricking with a pin or needle. These methods instantly relieve both nocturnal leg cramps and sudden attacks during the day. If a tense limb is sharply pinched, bitten or pricked, the activated nerve endings reflexively switch to another stimulus and the muscle immediately relaxes.
How to get rid of leg cramps?
Regular or daily spasms of the legs and feet must be treated comprehensively. The constant use of the above methods of emergency care allows you to cope only with the symptoms of pathology. To find out how to relieve leg cramps for a long time, you need to undergo a diagnosis and determine the causes of tonic muscle contractions, consult with doctors.
Leg cramps treatment
A single therapeutic regimen that allows you to get rid of tonic spasms has not been developed. You can choose the best way to treat leg cramps after finding out all the factors that provoke the pathology. First you need to contact a therapist and take a general blood test to assess the general condition of the body, muscles and the circulatory system. When making a diagnosis and identifying the cause of seizures, further consultations are carried out by specialized specialists. Treatment is carried out by a cardiologist, neuropathologist, phlebologist or endocrinologist.
Home therapy for leg cramps consists in following several important rules:
- Monitor water and electrolyte balance. In the hot season, increase the amount of fluid consumed.
- Choose the right shoes with good ankle support and sufficient instep. It is better to replace high stilettos with stable heels 3-4 cm high.
- Daily self-massage of the feet. It is useful to rub the muscles from the toes to the knee, even if there are no cramps.
- Do not overload the limbs. With a feeling of severe fatigue in the legs, the appearance of swelling and numbness of the muscles, relax, massage the soft tissues.
- Periodically take prophylactic doses of vitamins, calcium and potassium. This is especially necessary for pregnant women.
Leg cramps at night – treatment
If spasms occur during sleep, you should contact a cardiologist or vascular surgeon, do dopplerography. The doctor will help identify and eliminate the causes of stagnation of venous blood and deterioration of blood circulation in the arteries. To alleviate and prevent leg cramps at night, you can through the following activities:
- Taking contrast baths or alternately dousing the skin with hot and cold water before going to bed. To improve blood flow, it is recommended to use decoctions of medicinal plants that relieve convulsions – mint, horsetail, valerian.
- Diet correction. Spastic muscle contractions can be prevented by enriching the menu with foods containing magnesium, calcium, vitamin D and potassium. These substances are present in greens, legumes, dried fruits and bran. Additionally, it is worth including cod fish liver, dairy products, avocados in the diet.
- Performing gymnastics for convulsions. Every morning you need to do simple exercises – walk “on your toes”, on your heels, on the outer and inner surfaces of the feet, move your toes, bend and unbend your knees. Increasing the elasticity of the muscles will help to avoid the recurrence of spasms.
Cure for leg cramps
There are no specific medications for the treatment of sudden muscle contractions. Any drugs are selected by a specialized doctor based on the diagnosis and research. The only common cure for leg cramps is tablets containing mineral and vitamin complexes. Additionally, the doctor may advise taking magnesium supplements and muscle relaxants to relax the muscles.
Medicines for leg cramps
Effective vitamin and mineral complexes:
- Calcium-D3 Nycomed;
Effective magnesium preparations to prevent leg cramps:
- Natural Calm;
- Solgar with magnesium citrate;
- Magnelis B6.
- Muscle relaxants:
There are no special local medicines for spastic muscle contractions either, so the pharmacy does not sell ointment for leg cramps. Any drug with a warming and irritating effect will help alleviate the symptoms of pathology. The exception is situations where the problem occurs due to varicose veins. With such a diagnosis, the phlebologist prescribes special local remedies that restore blood circulation, prevent the formation of blood clots and the appearance of muscle cramps.