When Should Leg Cramps Concern You?

by John Esposito

Dealing with leg cramps can be a real pain. They may catch you off guard when you are going for a walk, when you are at work or even in the middle of the night. You may push them aside as if they are nothing to worry about. However, there are some times when leg cramps should concern you. It is best to figure out how to define leg cramps and learn more about what they are first. That way you can know when the leg cramps you have are a problem.

What are leg cramps?

runner suffering from leg cramps on trackLeg cramps happen when a muscle in your leg is tightened and contracted. Your muscles can be relaxed or contracted. When the muscles in your leg are relaxed, the muscle fibers will be elongated. When your muscles work properly, calcium gets sent into the cells of the muscle and sodium gets pushed out. When this happens, your fibers get shortened and your muscles pull. When this happens once in a while it is not a problem. However, if your muscles don’t relax again, you will have leg cramps.

What are the causes of leg cramps?

Now that you know more of the definition of a leg cramp, you should learn about what causes them. One of the main causes of leg cramps is that the muscles aren’t getting enough oxygen. If you ever get a pain in your side while you are exercising, that is similar to what happens when you have a leg cramp. When your muscles don’t get enough oxygen, the cramping occurs. Another reason your leg muscles may cramp is when there is not proper blood flow. This happens a lot when someone has cholesterol built up in their arteries.

What are the causes of nighttime leg cramps?

If you are having leg cramps it means that something is off-balance. There have been studies done to show that leg cramps during the night can be caused from the lack of oxygen, decreased blood flow, taking medications or even happen seasonally.

What happens with electrolyte imbalances?

Cramp in calf

You may also have leg cramps due to an electrolyte imbalance. If this is happening in your case, you can eat or drink more things that have electrolytes. You need proper electrolytes to make sure your muscles contract and relax properly. If you aren’t sure why you have an electrolyte imbalance, consider the following. Sweating or overheating can cause your body to have reduced magnesium, potassium and sodium (these are all electrolytes). Some medications may cause your body to lose water causing dehydration which then lead to leg cramps. Generally, diuretics will cause these issues. You could also have an electrolyte imbalance due to other medical issues. Many people with kidney failure or diabetes have this type of imbalance.

When is it time to worry about getting leg cramps?

Sometimes leg cramps are not a problem. However, there are times when you may need to concern yourself with them. If things are just not balanced, you can often fix this on your own. If you are having leg cramps when you are walking but they go away when you sit, talk to your doctor about that. It could be a sign of issues with your blood vessels. If you start having these cramps after you have begun a new medication, you should speak with your doctor about that as well.

How can leg cramps be treated?

If you have had major health issues ruled out by your doctor, there are some other things you can do to treat them. You can start by taking a daily supplement to regain electrolytes. Ultimate Man Once Daily supplements can help with this. You will want to make sure you are getting enough magnesium and potassium daily. Just taking those alone could be enough to treat your leg cramps. Another way to prevent or treat leg cramps is to cut down on your intake of caffeine and alcohol. Those two things cause dehydration. Stretching regularly will help to prevent and treat leg cramps as well. If you have nighttime leg cramps, stretch before you get into bed.

Now you have some of the basic information about leg cramps, whether you should worry about them and what you can do about them. Don’t let them continue, make a plan to treat them.

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