Sudden Pain Leg Cramps


Muscle spasms are unpleasant painful sensations caused by muscle contraction that occur suddenly and last from a few seconds to a few minutes. Calf muscles, foot muscles, leg biceps, and quadriceps are the most common sites of such injuries. Leg cramps are normally harmless, but they can be a warning indication of something more serious. This article will cover the reasons for and methods of stopping leg cramps.


Even though experts have not been able to identify a particular reason why leg cramps occur, they have recognized a number of risk factors. Dehydration, electrolyte imbalances, muscle fatigue/overuse, and some drugs all fit under this category. Conditions including peripheral artery disease, nerve damage, and thyroid issues can all manifest themselves as leg cramps.

Although cramps are only an occasional nuisance for most people, for some they appear more often and create daily disturbances as well as an obstacle to quality rest and sleep.

Various conditions or activities can lead to muscle cramps, such as:

  • exercise, injuries, or muscle overstrain,
  • accumulation of lactic acid in overworked muscle,
  • nerve damage (due to repetition of a certain movement, i.e., overload),
  • exposure to low temperatures, especially cold water,
  • dehydration,
  • lack of potassium, calcium, and other minerals in the blood,
  • other medical conditions, such as problems with blood flow (peripheral arterial disease), with the kidneys, thyroid, or multiple sclerosis.

Specific situations:

  • pregnancy - cramps can occur due to a reduced amount of minerals (calcium and magnesium), especially in the later months of pregnancy - hormonal changes in women lead to changes in the composition of electrolytes in the body.
  • standing for a long time on a hard surface, sitting or keeping the legs in awkward positions during sleep.


You can help avoid painful leg cramps by taking a few precautions. Preventing muscle weariness and cramping during exercise is another benefit of stretching and warming up beforehand. Another way to avoid getting leg cramps is to wear loose clothing and supportive shoes.

The following tips may help prevent leg cramps:

  • drink plenty of water and other liquids,
  • do not suddenly increase the intensity of exercise,
  • consume plenty of fresh green vegetables, particularly watercress and parsley, whole grains, and dairy items with a low-fat content.
  • make sure you eat healthy food (especially during pregnancy), especially foods rich in calcium, potassium, and magnesium,
  • limit or avoid alcoholic beverages and caffeine, which promote dehydration of the body,
  • ride a bicycle or exercise bike to stimulate the circulation of the lower extremities,
  • stretch your muscles every day, especially before and after exercise and before bed,
  • drink multivitamin supplements (magnesium, vitamin D),
  • drink a cup of chamomile tea (which relaxes muscles) before going to bed.


There are several options for relieving the discomfort of a leg cramp. Relaxing the cramped muscle with gentle stretching can assist. The local use of heat or cold could also be beneficial. Your doctor may prescribe muscle relaxants or calcium channel blockers if you suffer from regular leg cramps.

Some of the methods you can try are:

  • stretching and massaging the muscles - when a spasm occurs, it is good to either take a short walk or massage the painful area,
  • a warm shower or placing a heated pad on the muscle - relaxes the muscles,
  • putting ice on the muscle (never put it directly on the skin, but use an old cloth or rag) - this should be done with caution if there are circulation problems (varicose veins) or atherosclerosis,
  • take a pain reliever (ibuprofen or naproxen) and read and follow all medication instructions,
  • drink plenty of fluids to replace lost electrolytes,
  • apply arnica cream or gels with a cooling/heating effect on the affected muscle.

When To See a Doctor

Leg cramps are mostly innocuous and easy to treat on your own. However, you should see a doctor if you have leg cramps frequently, if they are severe, if they prevent you from sleeping, or if they are accompanied by swelling or redness. These could be symptoms of a more serious medical issue.

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