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Leg cramps can be very painful and horrible. They are called Charley horses 1and range from mild, bearable pain to severe and unbearable pain. Leg cramps occur due to contraction or discomfort in leg muscles. You must have experienced that when you walk a lot more than usual, you might have pain in your legs. It is very important to know when to worry about leg cramps.
Leg cramps happen when a woman a menstruating; they are accompanied by back pain and stomach cramps. Leg cramps are pretty normal among us, but we need to know the limit; that is, we need to know when to worry about leg cramps.
Leg cramps usually occur in the calf muscle2, but they are very common and can also spread to your feet and thighs.
There are various ways to prevent leg cramps, like sprays and ointments. Most leg cramps get better on their own, but some can cause severe leg pain.
Several factors cause leg cramps, but they should not be ignored and taken care of before it’s too late. It is always better to start taking preventive measures and know when to worry about leg cramps.
One type of leg cramp is called idiopathic 3leg cramps. This type’s exact causes are unknown, but they are said to develop due to some strange nerve activity. These types of leg cramps are very painful.
Nocturnal Leg Cramps:
These are the leg cramps that occur at night and give a tight and knot-like feeling and cause severe pain. They might last for a few seconds to several minutes. It might include sore muscles as the after-effect. These cramps can be very bad, and you should know when to worry about leg cramps.
The experts don’t know the exact reasons for this muscle cramp. It may be caused due to several reasons like excessive exercise, diabetes, drug 4or substance abuse, high blood pressure, low blood sugar level, feet flat5, pregnancy, and nerve damage. It might also be caused if one is above fifty years of age, if one stands on a hard surface for a long time and if one is working out more than normal.
But if you have been facing such pain, you should consider talking to a doctor who will tell you when to worry about leg cramps.
When to Worry About Leg Cramps?
To know when we should begin worrying about leg cramps, we must understand the causes of these cramps. With the help of the below-mentioned causes, you will get to know when to worry about leg cramps.
Sometimes it is very easy to detect what causes leg cramps because usually, they are caused by normal factors only. These factors include: –
1. When a person walks more often than usual, they might experience leg cramps.
2. When someone starts working out for the first time or continues to exercise after a long break, they might experience leg cramps.
3. Females usually have leg cramps during their menstrual cycles.
Some other mild factors may cause leg cramps. But this is not the time to worry because these types of muscle cramps usually get better with a little self-care, rest, and some home remedies.
You don’t have to visit a doctor if you have muscle cramps due to the reasons mentioned earlier. Although, you must take legitimate and prescribed medicines if the pain persists.
Leg cramps also happen due to other medical or more serious health conditions. Leg cramps caused by medical conditions persist longer than normal blood cramps, and they demand immediate attention or medication to get better. Now is the time if you are still wondering when to worry about leg cramps.
Leg Cramps Caused by Medical Conditions:
1. Less Blood Supply:
When exercising, the blood arteries that supply blood to the leg muscles narrow down, resulting in less blood supply in the muscles causing severe leg cramps. But these cramps usually go away or get better on their own.
2. Compression of Nerves:
When our spines’ nerves get compressed, we might experience leg cramps. The pain gets worse if we keep on ignoring it. So, one should rest more when one starts having this type of pain. Compression stockings may also be used to reduce the pain or help the person manage the discomfort.
3. Less Amount of Minerals in the Body:
Calcium, potassium, and magnesium are some minerals that help the human body’s normal and healthy functioning and muscles.
These minerals help in keeping the bones of a person strong and healthy. But when the levels of these minerals get imbalanced, people might also suffer or experience leg cramps.
Certain medications also contribute to causing leg cramps. For example, people with high blood pressure or hypertension who also take medicines to control their blood pressure might experience leg cramps.
Pregnancy may also cause leg cramps because of the extra weight that a woman has to carry. The growing baby’s weight asserts pressure on the nerves and blood vessels that carry blood to the legs.
This way, pregnancy causes leg cramps, but, in most cases, it can be avoided with the proper use of medicines prescribed by a good doctor considering all the repercussions.
5. Liver Disease:
Recent medical studies and reports have shown that severe liver disease or liver cirrhosis 6may cause leg cramps and pain in the calf muscles. But doctors usually give proper medicines that will help in reducing leg cramps.
6. Addison’s Disease:
Addison’s disease is a disorder that leads to insufficient production or release of certain hormones in the human Body. The adrenal glands produce too little cortisol or aldosterone hormones in this disease. Many people with the disease complain of leg cramps and muscle pain.
7. Kidney Failure:
Due to kidney malfunction, metabolic waste and fatty deposits get deposited or collected in the blood vessels, and this causes leg cramps and muscle twitch. This kidney failure may also cause swelling in the thighs.
Leg Cramps Caused by Lifestyle Changes:
Water is one of the essential elements of the human Body. That is why we have been taught to drink the proper amount of water since we were kids. Sometimes dehydration might become the cause of leg or muscle cramps. It may cause involuntary muscle contractions, which then cause pain in the legs.
Apart from this, dehydration may also have other serious repercussions, like one might faint suddenly or feel dizzy. That is why taking proper and good water daily is always better.
2. Excessive Exercise:
When someone starts working out, they might experience pain in the legs and muscle cramps for the first few days. This type of cramps goes away with regular exercise. When someone starts working out more than usual, they might have leg cramps or muscle pain. This is why gym trainers advise against working out more than our Body allows.
Sometimes certain types of workout regimes are too strenuous or tedious, and they cause leg cramps. In this case, it is advised to take the help of a proper gym trainer or other professionals.
3. Some Specific Sports:
Some sports which involve a lot of running and physical movement might also cause leg cramps. If a player plays more than they are accustomed to, they might experience sudden pain in their legs and muscles.
4. Following a Sedentary Lifestyle:
A sedentary lifestyle is an inactive type of lifestyle where a person does not indulge in many physical activities or exercises. People with desk jobs are said to have a sedentary lifestyle.
Doctors state that people with a sedentary lifestyle may have mild or severe leg cramps. When our muscles don’t move enough then, they get stiff. This is why we experience leg cramps. In this case, the doctor advises people to have a proper exercise routine and an active lifestyle.
Treating Leg Cramps:
There are several ways to prevent leg cramps. Treating leg cramps in the initial few days is easy, but it gets difficult when it gets late. It is not okay to ignore cramps as leg cramping involves various risk factors. Ignored cramps might lead to more leg cramps, and people might develop a more serious health conditions.
After knowing when to worry about leg cramps, one should also know some of its basic treatments.
The treatment plan for your cramps would depend on the reasons and the symptoms of your leg cramps. For instance, treating someone with leg cramps due to excessive workouts would differ from those with leg cramps due to more serious health conditions like liver or kidney damage or heart disease. Similarly, certain medical conditions are more pressing and serious than others.
Some of the ways to treat or reduce leg cramps are mentioned below: –
1. Stretch Your Body:
After you know when to worry about leg cramps, you need to know that stretching might be very useful. Stretching helps a lot when you have leg cramps, and it is very easy to do. It is economical in every sense.
You must stretch your cramped or affected muscles and hold them like that for a few seconds. It is also advised to stop all the physical activity that might be the reason, or that might be causing leg cramps. Massaging the cramped area is also very helpful.
Yoga helps a lot in internally healing your entire Body. It is one of the best remedies for treating cramps. The benefit of doing yoga is that it will not only cure your leg cramps but will also provide equal benefits to all the parts of your Body.
But you should know when to worry about leg cramps to pick up particular poses that will be fruitful in your case. Some of the asana and yoga postures are designed or invented to help people with leg cramps and all other types of body pain.
3. Do Physical Exercises:
Sometimes people might develop leg cramps due to having a sedentary lifestyle. When your muscles don’t move enough, they get stiff, and hence you might have leg cramps. It is one of the leading causes of leg cramps.
After one knows when to worry about leg cramps, physical activity might be very useful for them. In this case, you must start doing some physical exercises and develop a proper workout regime. Going for small durations of walks might help. Jogging is also found helpful in these cases.
4. Use of Heat:
Heat proves to be very helpful in reducing cramps. Many trainers and coaches state that the external use of Epsom salt helps relieve cramps and all other kinds of body pains.
You can use heating pads on your cramped muscles to get relief from pain. You can also put your leg in mildly warm water mixed with Epsom salt or normal salt, as it helps reduce pain to some extent. A warm bath is also helpful in reducing the discomfort caused by cramps.
5. Stay Hydrated:
Sometimes cramps might occur due to dehydration. So, to avoid such a situation, you must stay hydrated and drink the proper amount of water that your bodies require.
6. Consult a doctor:
There might be times and situations when the cause of cramps is not known, and, in that case, it is advised to take professional medical help. An Orthopedic specialist or orthopedic surgeon might be the one who will prove helpful. In some cases, a rheumatologist might also prove to be of great help. Visiting a doctor will also help you know when to worry about leg cramps.
When you visit these doctors, they will examine and analyze the cause of leg cramps. They will run some tests and conduct x-rays. They might also take a blood test to know the underlying condition causing cramps. After examination of the test reports, they will prescribe the required medications. The doctors might also give or prescribe muscle relaxants to reduce the cramps.
In various cases, doctors state that physiotherapy is very helpful in reducing leg cramps and increasing the efficiency of the Human Body. With the help of the doctor, the cause of this discomfort might be caught early, and this way, we can be saved from the increased risk of developing some serious medical ailment or problem.
It is important to know when to worry about leg cramps. In some cases, leg cramps can be only mild, but in other cases, they can be serious, also. So, taking it seriously as soon as you start having leg cramps that don’t go away with some first aid or home remedies is advised. In this case, it is best not to wait and consult a doctor immediately.
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