Have you ever woken up in the middle of the night with a stabbing pain in your leg? Leg cramps are extremely common, especially in older adults. According to the Cleveland clinic, 60% of adults experience leg cramps at night. They can be extremely painful and ruin a good nights sleep- which is essential for your overall health. What causes leg cramps? What are your treatment options?
Causes of Leg Cramps at Night
Leg cramps, often referred to as charley horses, are involuntary muscle contractions. When the muscle is in one position for an extended period of time, such as while you’re sleeping, it can go into a spasm when contracted. Several underlying factors contribute to this happening.
In most cases, leg cramps are caused by muscle overuse and dehydration. Increased activity, exercise, or strain to the leg muscles will cause them to go into spasm. Dehydration specifically can set off electrolyte imbalances that disrupt adequate muscle function. Potassium, calcium and magnesium are all needed for proper muscle contractions, and when are often depleted with dehydration.
Chronic muscle cramps can sometimes be a symptom of an underlying medical condition. Nerve disorders such as ALS and Parkinson’s have increased risk of muscle cramps. Peripheral neuropathy can also cause cramp like pain in the legs. Osteoarthritis and other factors causing nerve compression in the spine contribute to leg cramps. Liver and kidney conditions as well as diabetes put you at increased risk.
Treatment and Prevention
Often times drinking plenty of fluids, restoring electrolytes lost in sweat, and stretching can prevent and treat leg cramps. The average adult should consume at least eight ounces of water a minimum of eight times a day. Too much alcohol or caffeine can affect dehydration as well. Electrolyte drinks are an easy way to replenish those lost with sweat.
Stretching your muscles regularly, especially after prolonged exercise or activity can help. If you have been having trouble with leg cramps waking you up at night, chiropractic care can help. Chiropractic adjustments and associated treatments improve blood flow, nerve function and flexibility. Massage therapy is another great way to loosen up the muscles. Contact Silver Chiropractic and Wellness today to find out how to put leg cramps at rest for good.