How do I know if I’m having nighttime leg cramps or a different problem?
Nighttime leg cramps are a painful tightening of muscles in the leg. They usually happen in the calf, but may happen in the foot or thigh while you’re sleeping. Nighttime leg cramps are different than restless legs syndrome; restless legs syndrome makes you feel like you need to move your legs.
What causes nighttime leg cramps?
The cause of nighttime leg cramps isn’t always clear. People with certain medical conditions, women who are pregnant, and older people are more likely to have them. People who take certain medicines may also be more likely to have leg cramps. Your pharmacist can review your medicines to find possible causes of nighttime leg cramps.
What can I try at home to help with nighttime leg cramps?
It is possible to reduce nighttime leg cramps by drinking plenty of fluids during the day and stretching or massaging your legs before bed. Applying heat or cold may help relieve a cramped muscle. Another thing you can try is avoiding heavy bed covers and untucking your blanket at the end of your bed; this helps keep your feet in a natural position rather than in a “pointed toe” position, which may cause your calves to cramp.
Does drinking tonic water help with nighttime leg cramps?
Tonic water contains quinine. Quinine is a medicine that used to be tried for nighttime leg cramps but is no longer recommended because of its serious side effects.
What’s next if home remedies don’t help?
Your prescriber may want to do blood work to find out if your calcium, magnesium, or potassium is out of balance. Correcting any imbalances may help with leg cramps. There are supplements and prescription medicines that may help with leg cramps; ask your pharmacist or prescriber if there’s a supplement you can try. If a supplement doesn’t help, let your prescriber know; they may be able to give you a prescription medicine to help.
Content taken from Pharmacist’s Letter.