How to Stop Leg Cramps & Calf Pain at Night

How to Stop Leg Cramps & Calf Pain at Night

Calf pain can be troublesome in the middle of the night and makes for a miserable day. But what causes it? And how can you help relieve it? Is there anything you can do at home? This can't-miss article will reveal the top explanations behind leg pain and many ways to relieve yourself so that you can rest comfortably all night.

What Causes Calf Pain at Night

Nighttime calf pain can be caused by several factors. Leg cramps, which are often due to insufficient calcium or magnesium, can be relieved by stretching your calf muscle and rotating your foot in circles when you wake up.

To prevent leg cramps, it is recommended to keep your calf muscles well-hydrated with enough water, potassium, and sodium throughout the day.

Leg Cramps

Nocturnal leg cramps often strike during the night as you're trying to sleep. The discomfort or severe pain may only last a few seconds to an hour but has no cause in the Medical field and is unable to be identified.

Some common causes of this phenomenon include insufficient calcium, magnesium, potassium, or sodium (known as electrolytes), which are all needed for proper muscle contraction and relaxation.

Stress levels and over-exercising are also two causes that contribute to bloating of your limbs, which can cause a tingling feeling while limbs can be experiencing Charley horses.

Here is a list of the common causes:

  • Muscle overuse
  • Decreased blood flow
  • Shortened tendons
  • Sitting or standing for long periods
  • Pregnancy
  • Dehydration
  • Older age

Restless Leg Syndrome

Restless legs syndrome is a sleep disorder that causes intense urges to move their legs. Sufferers describe sensations of itching, burning, aching, or tugging at their legs.

Although anyone can develop restless legs syndrome, there is a strong genetic link, which means if someone in your family has it, there is a greater chance that you will develop it than someone with no relatives with the condition.

As well as those with family members who suffer from this condition tend to develop the problem around the same time their relatives did. It also tends to be more common for sufferers to report that they have experienced other leg problems, especially at an early age, such as growing pains and bone pain caused by conditions such as inflammation in the joints.

The other factors and medical conditions that are typically linked to restless leg syndrome are:

  • Certain medications
  • Pregnancy
  • Depression
  • Iron deficiency
  • Kidney disease
  • Nerve damage
  • Parkinson’s disease

Excessive Exercise

There are a variety of factors that can cause calf pain during the nighttime. One of the most common is exercise, which applies to anyone who repeatedly uses their leg muscles or overdoes it.

You can avoid this type of pain by giving yourself some time to rest and relieve the stress on your lower limbs with simple cures such as cold compression via Cold therapy packs and stretching.

Poor Standing or Sitting Posture

Calf pain is often connected to having poor standing or sitting posture. Crossing your legs and pointing your toes outwards can easily lead to calf pain and cramping, particularly in the lower leg area. Standing and sitting with poor posture causes other parts of your body to compensate for you, leading to more nerve pain in other places like the right shoulder or right hip area.

It's important to rest your calves regularly by changing positions - sitting on a sofa with crossed legs or standing on hard surfaces, like concrete or clay, for prolonged periods can all take a toll on one's feet, ankles, knees, and back.

Peripheral Artery Disease

Peripheral artery disease, or Pedicure's disease, is tough to swallow. The blood vessels in your lower legs become hardened and damaged, creating narrow and even blocked vessels that may cause some discomfort. This can lead to cramping or pain and a decrease in blood flow, which means walking or standing rather uncomfortably difficult for long periods.

Quick Calf Pain Treatments

When aching calves strike at night, nearly any precaution can be administered at home with simple techniques. Below are a few calf pain remedies worth considering and how to best apply them for superior comfort levels.

Hot and Cold Therapy

Calf and leg pain can be problematic, especially when you try to operate under normal circumstances. Two options complement each other when trying to manage this type of pain (Heat and cold), which is effective and provides great relief. Using an ice pack will help decrease inflammation, which reduces the off-putting swelling, and should then be followed with heat from either a hot water bottle or a heating pad for an hour or so if possible.

Cold therapy pack constricts the blood vessels, reducing aggravation of the calf area and pain in the local region. This helpful mechanism works by interrupting pain signals, allowing for more comfort and reduced discomfort until it's time for your next cold therapy session!

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    This will ensure that you're relaxed and comfortable, which is essential for this type of therapy because it speeds up the blood flow around your body. If you're dealing with a minor injury, cold treatments are recommended in the initial phase, but once the swelling goes down, it's time to use heat. 

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    After a long day, a massage can relieve the restlessness of our muscles. Treat yourself to a massage and revel in bliss! In cases where nighttime calf pain has prevented peaceful sleep sessions, introduce massage time into your routine right before bed.

    Multiple massage techniques are available: using a massager, fingers and hands, or elbow. Depending on what you find more comfortable, you can also use deeper pressure on your calves.

    Over the Counter Pain Killers

    Over-the-counter medications, otherwise known as OTCs, are a type of medication that can be used to help with short-term pain and swelling.

    Although no prescription is needed for these drugs, you should always talk to a health professional before consuming any over-the-counter drugs because even though they are generally inexpensive, if you take them incorrectly or eat certain foods, the effects of over-the-counter medications can become severe.

    Elevate the Leg

    Elevating your leg is another home treatment for calf pain. While sleeping or simply lounging on the couch, prop up one knee with a pillow to accommodate it being higher than the other.

    The elevation will help reduce swelling, bringing down some of the pain resulting from the swelling. On top of that, this acts as a stress-reducing measure when you realize there's now one less thing weighing on your mind!

    Here are a few additional things you can do to relieve the pain:

    • Stretch the affected muscle: Gently stretch the affected muscle by pointing your toes up towards your shins and then pointing your toes down towards the ground. Hold the stretch for 30 seconds.
    • Drink a glass of water: Drink a glass of water to help rehydrate your body.
    • Get up and walk around: Get out of bed and walk for a few minutes. This will help to improve circulation and relieve the cramp.

    Long-Term Care

    Lifestyle Changes

    When you feel your calf hurting at night, your first thought may be to take everything you can get your hands on in the short term. Most of us are busy and run around so much that we don't stop to think like this.

    But what if there was an easy way to reduce the frequency and intensity of these pains? Adopting long-term lifestyle changes ensures that it is a more serious issue than just a wake-up call every night. Here are some habits that anyone who gets nighttime calf pain should practice to prevent it from occurring:

    • Manage your weight
    • Exercise regularly
    • Don’t smoke
    • Allow your body to rest, especially when injured
    • Stretch to improve your range of motion

    Practice Good Posture

    While sitting, standing, or on the move, poor posture can harm your body by causing pain in various regions. When you have good posture while at your desk job or on the move (walking, bicycling), your body is aligned properly, and you'll feel comfortable and relaxed despite how much you've been moving around!

    Preventing Leg Cramps & Calf Pain at night:

    There are a few things you can do to help prevent leg cramps at night:

    • Stay hydrated: Drink plenty of fluids throughout the day, especially water.
    • Stretch your calves before going to bed: Stretch your calves by pointing your toes up towards your shins and then pointing your toes down towards the ground. Hold each stretch for 30 seconds.
    • Elevate your legs: When you go to bed, elevate your legs by placing a pillow under them. This will help to reduce swelling in the legs and prevent cramps.
    • Avoid caffeine and alcohol: Caffeine and alcohol can dehydrate you, making leg cramps more likely.
    • Eat a balanced diet: Eat plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. These foods contain electrolytes that can help to prevent cramps.
    • Get regular exercise: Regular exercise can help to strengthen your muscles and prevent cramps.

    Treating Nocturnal Calf Pain

    A calf injury can have deep-seated roots going up to the brain. It can be caused by blood clots, torn muscles, and even a stroke! Some calf injuries are mild, but others will require you to visit a doctor.

    Schedule an appointment if you experience new calf pain since it might be a sign of something more serious, like a condition that affects your heart.

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