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Leg Cramps

Nocturnal Leg Cramps

We’ve all been there. Just as you are beginning to drift off to sleep, you are abruptly jolted back to reality by a sharp stab of pain in your calf.  Half asleep, you stumble out of bed trying desperately to relieve the cramp.  By this time, you and your partner are wide awake, and your sleep routine for the night has been disrupted.  Welcome to the world of Nocturnal Leg Cramps.

WHAT ARE NOCTURNAL LEG CRAMPS?

Up to 50 % of us will start to experience nocturnal cramps (night cramps) as we approach retirement age. Night cramps are more common among the female populations and among those with other health problems – particularly those with neurological or cardiovascular diseases.  Normally the cramp will be felt in the foot, calf or back of the thigh and may last from several seconds to several minutes.  While not dangerous, cramps can be both painful and distressing, and can disturb your sleep.

WHAT ARE NOCTURNAL LEG CRAMPS?

Up to 50 % of us will start to experience nocturnal cramps (night cramps) as we approach retirement age. Night cramps are more common among the female populations and among those with other health problems – particularly those with neurological or cardiovascular diseases.  Normally the cramp will be felt in the foot, calf or back of the thigh and may last from several seconds to several minutes.  While not dangerous, cramps can be both painful and distressing, and can disturb your sleep.

WHAT CAN CAUSE NIGHT CRAMPS?

There are many reasons proposed as the root cause of cramps, however, the physical factors thought to contribute to cramps are:

  • Long periods of sitting
  • Poor posture
  • Inactivity and tight muscles
  • Over-exertion of the leg muscles
HOW WE CAN HELP
Recent research from the Netherlands has investigated the effects of a daily stretching program to treat cramps. Researchers found that the number of cramps significantly decreased for patients undertaking the stretch program, and even more importantly, the intensity of the cramps decreased.  Your physiotherapist can provide you with a safe and effective stretching program tailored to your needs so that this type of pain isn’t ‘cramping your style’ by disrupting your sleep routine.

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