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Cramps in the legs: causes, treatment at home

Cramps in the legs: causes, treatment at home. The term "cramps in the legs" in the common people denote an excessive in strength and duration and uncontrolled will reduction of individual muscles, which occurs without apparent at first glance, and mainly at night.

Most often, seizures occur in the muscles of the lower extremities( spasms of the calf muscles), less often in the muscles of the back or front surface of the thigh.Muscles of the chest and abdomen, upper limbs and neck in the process of occurrence of contractions of this type are involved much less often.As a rule, convulsions are rather painful, unpleasant and deprive a person of the ability to move independently or perform complex coordinated motor acts.

Table of contents: Differential diagnosis Causes of nocturnal leg cramps Mechanisms for the onset of leg cramps When do convulsions occur?Harbinger of cramps Leg cramps during pregnancy First aid for gastrocnemius spasms When should I seek help?Prevention of leg cramps

Differential diagnosis

Important! Convulsive contractions of the type described refer to the tetanic, that is, strong and prolonged, without periods of relaxation.

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For this reason, leg cramps at night should be distinguished from similar externally, but different in nature processes, which include:

  • Epileptic paroxysms - they have a wide variety of manifestations, but with them in the overwhelming majority of cases inConvulsive process involves the muscle groups of the whole body, there are disorders of consciousness and the period of seizures falls out of the memory of a large.
  • Seizures what to do Choreoathetoid muscle contractions - most often a manifestation of various lesions of the central nervous system, are usually noted in the patient constantly.Significantly increased their severity with a change in the physical or mental state of the patient.Most of all, they resemble a combination of permanent grimacing with wormlike movements of hands, less often - legs.
  • Tiki - manifestations of psychiatric pathology, expressed in the form of stereotyped contractions of facial muscles, sometimes - involuntary utterance of sounds or words.Other muscle groups are rarely involved in the contraction process.There is an increase in the severity of tics during excitement and a decrease in rest or sleep.
  • Fasciculations - represent rhythmic rapid contractions of individual muscle beams of superficially located muscles.There are rare, special discomfort, and even more so, pain does not bring.Reflect most often the overexcitation of individual motor neurons.
  • Contractures - the least similar to cramps and represent a persistent fixation of the limb in an unnatural position in diseases of the musculoskeletal system or the central nervous system.

Please note! Nocturnal cramps in the legs are one of the manifestations of a fairly wide range of diseases, abnormalities, functional changes, and responses in the body.

Reasons for nocturnal leg cramps

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The cause of the convulsive syndrome and night leg cramps that we are considering may be:

  • dehydration;
  • changes in ion balance;
  • physical inactivity;
  • excessive physical activity;
  • musculature overstrain;
  • club foot;
  • varicose veins;
  • vitamin deficiency;
  • endocrine diseases;
  • latent trauma;
  • local inflammatory processes.

As a rule, the main cause of leg cramps is the lack of micro- and macroelements such as calcium, magnesium and potassium involved in the transport of nerve impulses from the central nervous system directly to the muscle tissue itself.The situation in this case is exacerbated by the lack of vitamins D and B.

Mechanisms for the onset of leg cramps

Mechanisms for the onset of leg cramps All of the above causes some changes in the body itself and in certain areas that contribute to the spontaneous appearance of seizures.

So, as a result of excessive load and fatigue of the muscles, energy-critical compounds, mainly ATP, decrease.In this case, certain metabolites are accumulated in the tissues, primarily lactic acid.As a result, the relaxation of muscle fibers is disturbed, which, against a background of a lowered threshold of excitability, leads to spontaneous cramps in the legs at night.

Another mechanism for the development of nocturnal leg cramps is the violation of the nervous regulation of the muscles, which can result from general overwork, the taking of certain drugs, endocrine disorders.The result of such states is a decrease in the threshold of muscle excitability and their reduction in the presence of even weak nerve impulses.

In the presence of varicose veins, thrombophlebitis, diseases of the cardiovascular system, various inflammatory processes and frequent traumatization, there is a change in the metabolism of muscle tissue in conditions of lack of oxygen and nutrients.This contributes to the occurrence of spontaneous gastrocnemius spasms.

When do convulsions occur?

In the vast majority of cases, leg cramps, as well as cramps in the muscles of the lower extremities appear in a person at night.

The reason for this phenomenon lies in the fact that during this period of the day all processes in the body are slowed down, the body rests after a busy day.The organs that continue to be supplied with blood at the same level are not resting heart, lungs, diaphragm and brain.All the rest, especially the muscles, are in a relaxed state.

If, for a number of reasons, the local blood supply was initially reduced or there were metabolic disorders, in conditions of still greater hypoxia( lack of oxygen in the tissues) spontaneous cramps can easily occur at night.

In addition, sleep activates brain activity, which is manifested by a fast phase of sleep with motor activity.Under adverse conditions, even mild excitation and activity of nerve cells leads to a reduction and spasm of muscles.

Convicts of seizures

Generally nocturnal convulsions in the limbs of quite healthy people quite often arise spontaneously and without any apparent cause.This type of seizure does not require special measures except for the cramping of cramps at the time of its presence.In this case, a significant number of cases requiring assistance to a person, appeared not on a flat spot - they were preceded by a certain unfavorable background.

These precursors include:

  • Treating convulsions at home Forced changes in physical activity.For people accustomed to a sedentary or sedentary lifestyle, excessive physical activity becomes a provoking factor.For active and mobile people - a prolonged inactivity and lack of movement.
  • Excessive psychoemotional stress .In , some susceptible natures have severe stress, disturbances or experiences( both positive and negative) that can trigger the occurrence of nocturnal seizures.
  • Deterioration of existing diseases . All diseases, ranging from endocrine pathology and ending with thrombophlebitis or varicose veins, may worsen over time.At such times the whole body suffers, and the weakest places, in this case, the muscles, suffer particularly badly, which causes spontaneous nocturnal convulsive activity.
  • Off-season, long-term presence in adverse climatic conditions . They are mainly manifested in the general and relative deficiency of vitamins and minerals, which directly and indirectly leads to the appearance of seizures.

Leg cramps during pregnancy

Leg cramps in pregnancy Many women complain of the appearance of painful uncontrolled contractions of certain leg muscles during the gestation period.As we said earlier, the main cause of seizures is a lack of magnesium, potassium and calcium.Elimination of these elements from the body of a pregnant woman during the first trimester is due to toxicosis, accompanied by eating disorders and vomiting.Seizures in the legs in the second and third trimester of pregnancy are most often associated with increased consumption of vital trace elements by the developing fetus.

To everything, in late terms, the cause of seizures of the pregnant woman is the enlarged uterus, which squeezes the lower vena cava, which makes it difficult to drain the venous blood from the legs.Particularly worse state in prone position.

Improper diet and increased energy requirements for the baby's future lead to a decrease in the level of glucose in the body of a pregnant woman, which can also trigger the development of leg cramps.That is why, as a preventive measure for the convulsive syndrome, the expectant mother must carefully observe the regime of the day and make sure that her diet is full and balanced. .

First aid for with spasms of the calf muscles

Many ask the question "What to do if the spasm reduces the leg? ».Despite the unexpectedness, the discomfort or pain caused by cramps, you should not panic, as excitement and emotions contribute to the reduction.

As a first aid for spasms of the toes and calf muscles, you need to take yourself as early as possible and perform the following steps:

  1. Set both feet to the floor without haste.If you are lying, then you need to sit down and sit for a few seconds.After that, smoothly stand on both legs with all the weight, preferably with a support.
  2. Massage the affected area.This will ensure a flow of blood to the spasized area of ​​the muscle tissue and its subsequent relaxation
  3. Try to stretch the shortened and strained muscle.If you have a calf muscle, stand on your heel and try to raise your toe up.Another option may be to take the leg back with support on the entire foot and a gradual weight load of the body.The third method of stretching is the stretching of the fingers by the hand.

First aid for gastrocnemius spasms

If the cramp has touched the front of the thigh, take upright position, grasp the ankle bent at the knee and pull the foot to the buttocks.With a spasm of the muscles of the feet, sit down, straighten your leg, pull your thumbs on yourself.When cramping the muscles of the back of the thigh, take the vertical position, put it one step forward and put a sick leg on the heel, bend the healthy one in the knee and lean on it with your hands.Take the pelvis back and gently stretch the patient.Movements should resemble an attempt to remove the shoe from a sore leg.


  1. Pinch the spasized muscle or prick it with some kind of non-sharp object such as the handle, fork.Knives and needles should not be used at all, but if there is no alternative, then try to handle them very carefully.
  2. After the cramping of the cramps, perform stroking movements or a slight massaging of the muscle.This will allow to relax it as much as possible and prevent the appearance of seizures in the future.Some seek to further warm their feet by wearing warm leggings or knee-highs.

When should I seek help?

In a healthy person, in most cases, such single nocturnal cramps in the legs can occur spontaneously and nothing else usually needs to be done except for their cupping.

It's important to know! If such conditions began to appear in you repeatedly, then this is a serious reason to consult a doctor for advice and further examination to find out the cause of seizures.In the process of finding out the cause of your condition, you will have to consult a wide range of specialists, as well as undergo a series of laboratory and instrumental examinations.

If nocturnal cramps begin to appear after the initiation of treatment prescribed by the doctor for an existing disease, it is possible that nocturnal cramps in the legs are associated with the action of one or more medications taken.In this situation, you need to contact the doctor as soon as possible, explain the situation - it is possible to revise the drug therapy, or change the dosage, the prescribed drugs.

Prevention of leg cramps

There are a number of recommendations that you can use to reduce the risk of seizures at night.In general, preventive measures are aimed at overall strengthening and improving the body and improving the limb muscles.

The list of measures for the prevention of leg cramps includes:

  • Normalization of the level of physical activity.People with reduced physical activity should avoid excessive fatigue, but do not forget that a certain level of muscle loads is simply necessary, as it helps improve venous outflow, improves nutrition and supplies oxygen to muscle tissue.People with increased physical activity are shown to avoid periods of complete rest, but provide periodic rest to the muscles.
  • Normalization of the body's water balance.You should pay attention to the quality and quantity of liquid drunk, giving preference to pure, artesian water.The amount drunk should be within the limits of the weight, physical activity and ambient temperature.This is necessary in order to avoid both dehydration and the appearance of edema.
  • Elimination of Vitamin Deficiency.The intake of vitamin preparations as well as trace elements contributes to the normalization of metabolic processes in muscles and leads to a decrease in the severity of the changes.In addition - this is a great way to avoid the appearance of seizures during pregnancy.
  • MASSAGE-CIRCULAR Massage of the muscles of the legs.This type of direct mechanical action improves blood circulation and lymph drainage, contributes to an increase in the tone of the veins.The very massing of muscle tissue allows its fibers to reflexively contract and relax, that is, there is a kind of muscle training.
  • Taking sedatives.Natural herbal remedies and other drugs that are as harmless and soft as possible act to relieve fatigue, fatigue, nervous irritability, stress and other factors that directly affect the possibility of leg cramps.
  • Sleep in a certain position.Many patients eventually find the optimal position of the body in bed, so that cramps do not occur at all, or their frequency is significantly reduced.For some, this is the position on the abdomen with raised legs.Another possibility is better to sleep lying on the back with a slight rise of the shins.


As a rule, these measures can prevent the appearance of convulsive syndrome.However, if even then you continue to be bothered by muscle spasms, you should consult your doctor as soon as possible for the examination and to find out the exact causes of the disease, as well as the selection of appropriate treatment for gastrocnemius spasms.

More information on leg cramps can be obtained by watching this video review:

Physician therapist, Sovinskaya Elena Nikolaevna

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