The causes of leg cramps are various, although sometimes leg cramps can also occur without knowing the exact cause. Leg cramps are generally caused by injuries during exercise, impaired blood circulation in the legs or feet, pregnancy, dehydration, lack of certain mineral intake, or cold temperatures.
Muscle cramps, both of which occur in the area of the foot or other areas, are contractions or tightening of the muscles forcefully and suddenly. Cramps can last for a few seconds to several minutes, and are common in the legs. Leg cramps at night often affect the calf muscles, and usually occur when you have just fallen asleep or have just woken up.
Various Causes of Leg Cramps
The following are various causes and risk factors for leg cramps:
Pressure on nerves
Inadequate blood supply
Side effects of drugs
Other medical conditions
Pressure on the spinal cord can cause leg cramps and pain, which can worsen the longer you walk. Walking with a slightly forward bending position can usually ease pain.
Narrowing of the arteries that drain blood to your feet can cause pain, such as cramps in the legs when you are exercising. These cramps usually disappear quickly after you have rested.
Cramping conditions are common in pregnant women, especially during the last months of pregnancy. This may be due to a deficiency of potassium and magnesium, or due to poor blood flow to the legs.
Having an injury or using excessive muscle can also cause leg cramps. Sitting too long, standing too long on a hard surface, or putting your feet in an uncomfortable position during sleep can also make your leg muscles tighten or cramp. Lack of warm up before exercising also often causes leg cramps.
Lack of minerals, such as potassium, calcium, and magnesium, can cause leg cramps.
Dehydration, which is a condition where the body lacks fluids, can also trigger leg cramps. Severe dehydration can cause electrolyte disturbances which then cause leg cramps.
Medications such as contraceptive pills, antipsychotic drugs, diuretics, statins, asthma medications, and corticosteroids can also increase your risk of experiencing cramps.
Infections, such as tetanus, can cause muscle stiffness and cramps.
Diseases involving the liver can cause cramps in the legs. When the liver can’t work properly, toxins in the blood will increase and can make muscle cramps.
Kidney disease, thyroid disease, diabetes, or blood flow problems (peripheral arterial disease) also increase the risk of cramps.
This Is How To Handle It
Ways that can be done to handle cramps, include:
Stop the activity and relax the muscles
Consumption of foods rich in magnesium
Use pain medication
Do light stretches, for example by moving your legs or walking slowly.
Massaging the tense muscles can help relieve cramps. However, do not massage the leg cramps too tight because it can affect the smooth flow of blood.
Compress or shower with hot water can help treat cramps. However, this method is not recommended for diabetics or spinal cord injuries. In addition, combining warm compresses with cold compresses can also help relieve leg cramps.
Drinking water or drinks that contain electrolytes, to replenish body fluids. This method may require a relatively longer time, but can prevent further cramps.
Eat foods such as nuts and seeds, which are rich in magnesium, if you often experience leg cramps that are not related to other health conditions. If necessary, you can take magnesium supplements. But for pregnant women, you should consult with your doctor first if you want to take this supplement.
You can take painkillers, such as paracetamol or pain relief gel, according to instructions for use.
To prevent cramps from coming back, try to occasionally massage the body parts that often cramp, warm up before exercising, meet the needs of water and minerals such as calcium, magnesium, and others. In addition, wear footwear that is decent and comfortable to move. If complaints of leg cramps often appear without knowing the exact cause, you should consult a doctor.