Saturday, November 17, 2012

Painful Leg Cramps During Sleep

Have you experienced being awaken by painful leg cramps during sleep? Were you scared that your calf muscle was turning hard as wood while experiencing intense pain? Added to that, the pain seemed to creep up from calf muscle to hamstrings.  You may have wondered if a stroke is going on,  I did, or you are slowly getting paralyzed. I thought of many scary crazy stuff.  I over reacted.

Thank you for this image.

Some people call this Charley Horse. I call it worst nightmare coming true. I have read painful muscle cramps have  no real causes, although I have several coincidences happening each time I experience the painful muscle cramps:

What causes these cramps?  Usually they are:

1.  Tiredness
The first time I experienced this was when I was 13 years old.  My friends and I joined the chuch procession is Isabela.  It was fun.   It was my longest participation in a church procession at that time.   Since I was with a friend, the hours just went by and we did not mind the sore feet and legs.  Coming home, I washed my feet and went to sleep, to be awaken later by severe calf muscle cramps. I screamed in pain.  Tatay came to the rescue at once and massaged my legs. The pain  subsided.

2.  Poor circulation or lack of circulation -
If you stay in one position (sitting, standing, lying)  for a long time your blood is not circulating normally.  Try shifting your position once you're aware that you've been in one position for long time.

2.  Cold weather
I like cold weather, I love walking on the streets on cold weather as I could wear my cool cold weather attire.  BUT, especially with older people like me, you can't enjoy it too much. Your muscles object and remind you of your age when you get muscle cramps.

3. Pregnancy
Muscle cramps during pregnancy is not as painful as this  severe calf muscle cramps,  but nonetheless, it's a discomfort.

4. Lack of potassium, calcium on diet
That's what the doctor says to pregnant women who experience muscle cramps.  This was true when I was pregnant, I can't even stretch out my legs without getting muscle cramps.  After delivery though, your muscles slowly return to normal and OMG, it feels so good to be able to stretch again.  You never miss one thing while you have it, but having the pleasure to do the things you used to do before pregnancy is like going to paradise.

5. Taking of diuretics or medicine that increase the amount of urine that you produce, too much coffee or any drink which has diuretic effects.

Treatment:

1. Massage the muscle for circulation and to warm the muscles.During my latest episode,  I was screaming in pain and had awaken my husband.   His help in massaging my leg helped much with providing warmth and increasing circulation.

2.  Pain reliever pills - Advil, Alleve, Ibuprofen- Follow instructions on the bottle, and take when your muscles are still sore.

2.  Enjoy warm shower or bath to relax the muscles.

3.  Drink lots of fluids during the day or your waking hours,  and another glass of water before going to bed.

4. Move your legs, stretch and contract muscles gently and slowly. You should do this regularly too, and before going to sleep to prevent night cramps.

5. Eat potasium-rich food -
  • Bananas - some swear that eating banana after dinner insure them of good night sleep, free from painful muscle cramps
  • apricots, nectarines, dates, grapes, or raisins
  • Beans
  • Cabbage/broccoli family of vegetables
  • Oranges, grapefruit, and their juice
  • Pork and lamb
  • Potatoes and corn
  • Saltwater fish (for example, tuna)
  • Tomatoes and tomato juice
6.  Believers of apple cider vinegar advise  you to take it while you are experiencing muscle cramps.

7.  Believers of Vitamin C also advise you of regular intake of freshly squeezed lemon juice regularly.

8. Salt.   Some contradict the drinking of water while experiencing pain, and advise to shake salt into your palm and lick  it. (I am so reminded of drinking a tequila shot).

9. Regular exercise 
Do your exercises regularly - cycling, swimming - any activity  that strengthens your leg muscles. Of course don't do this when you're hurting.

9. Taking  vitamin supplements - phosphate, calcium, sellenium, vitamin B complex.  Consult yoiur physician  about this first.

I do hope however that your leg cramps are occasional like mine, because this could also be a symptom of other diseases:

My leg cramps remain sore after one or two days, so I take pain reliever during those days.  If you experience leg cramps frequently, defintely consult your physician.

References:
http://www.dummies.com/how-to/content/nocturnal-leg-cramps-nighttime-calf-muscle-pain.html
http://transformationtrainer.com/2010/10/muscle-cramps-and-soreness/ 

1 comment:

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    Visited August 2014
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