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Q: Leg cramps, cause & natural cure ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   3 Comments )
Subject: Leg cramps, cause & natural cure
Category: Health > Alternative
Asked by: leowillman-ga
List Price: $50.00
Posted: 14 Mar 2006 03:27 PST
Expires: 13 Apr 2006 04:27 PDT
Question ID: 707090
I'm in my mid sixties and experience frequent cramps in my lower legs,
mostly at night.  What causes this and what natural remidies are
effective; herbs, streching, accupuncture etc.  Where is the best
source of suggested cures?
Subject: Re: Leg cramps, cause & natural cure
Answered By: crabcakes-ga on 14 Mar 2006 18:38 PST
Rated:5 out of 5 stars
Hello Leowillman,

     I have gathered numerous "cures" for leg cramps for you. The
first thing to check is your water consumption. Dehydration is one
common cause of leg cramps. Potassium and calcium intake are another

   ?For many of us, it is an all-too-familiar scenario: You're
sleeping peacefully when a painful sensation suddenly pierces your
leg, jolting you awake. If you've been an unwilling host to this
nighttime visitor, you have plenty of company. Studies show that about
70% of adults older than 50 experience nocturnal leg cramps.

What are nocturnal leg cramps?
These cramps are sudden, involuntary contractions of the calf muscles
that occur during the night or while at rest. Occasionally, muscles in
the soles of the feet also become cramped. The sensation can last a
few seconds or up to 10 minutes, but the soreness may linger. The
cramps can affect persons in any age-group, but they tend to occur in
middle-aged and older populations.?
What can I do to prevent these cramps? 

To stave off future episodes of nocturnal leg cramps, consider the following tips: 
?	Drink six to eight glasses of water daily. Doing so will help
prevent dehydration, which may play a role in the cramping.
?	Stretch calves regularly throughout the day and at night. (See box
below for more information.)
?	Ride a stationary bicycle for a few minutes before bedtime. This
activity can help prevent cramps from developing during the night,
especially if you do not get a lot of exercise during the day.
?	Keep blankets loose at the foot of the bed to prevent your toes and
feet from pointing downward while you sleep.
?	Do aquatic exercises regularly during the week to help stretch and
condition your muscles.
?	Wear proper foot gear. 

Nocturnal muscle cramps can often be prevented by doing leg-stretching
exercises, such as the one outlined below.
1. Stand 30 inches from the wall. 
2. While keeping your heels on the floor, lean forward, put your hands
on the wall, and slowly move your hands up the wall as far as you can
reach comfortably.
3. Hold the stretched position for 30 seconds. Release. 
4. Repeat steps 1 through 3 two more times. 
5. For best results, practice this exercise in the morning, before
your evening meal, and before going to bed each night.

   ?It is important to differentiate leg pain from cramps. Neuropathy
(nerve damage), sciatica, as well as clogged arteries in the leg
(vascular disease) can cause leg pain. These types of pain, tend to
occur throughout the day and not just at night. Vascular disease also
causes cramping with walking. In vascular disease, nighttime pain is
relieved with hanging the foot over the bed so that gravity draws more
blood into the feet. Poor circulation also causes poor healing that
results in persistent sores (ulcers). Leg cramps that occur at rest
may have a different cause and treatment than cramps associated with
Nocturnal leg cramps must be distinguished from restless leg syndrome,
which is a crawling, uncomfortable sensation that forces you to get up
and move the legs.?

   ?More recent developments indicate that the cause of cramps most
likely involves hyperactivity of the nerve-muscle reflex arc. In this
scheme, some of the normal inhibitory activity of the central nervous
system (CNS) reflexes is lost as a result of CNS fatigue or overuse of
feedback communication with muscles. These spinal reflexes use two
receptors, known as Golgi tendon organs and muscles spindles, found in
skeletal muscles. Golgi tendon organs may become inhibited and muscles
spindles can become hyperactive, leading to sustained activation of
the muscle. It has been suggested that prolonged sitting, poor or
abnormal posture or inefficient biomechanics (all of which may be
related to poor flexibility) predispose these reflexes to
malfunctioning. Age also seems to predispose individuals to
cramping--the phenomenon may develop later in life for people who
exercise for years without prior problems. Other factors include
increased body weight and improper footwear. Eccentric muscle
contraction and other musculoskeletal injuries can contribute to the

   ?The first thing to check if you have leg cramps is your
prescription drugs. Some can cause cramping; your doctor can tell you
the side effects of your medication. Diuretics taken for high blood
pressure or heart disorders, for example, can cause an imbalance of
your potassium and magnesium levels. A blood test can tell you if this
is a problem, and if it is, supplements of the appropriate mineral
will alleviate the symptoms.

The most common cause of nocturnal leg cramps is calcium deficiency.
If you are postmenopausal, trying to lose weight, or don't consume
enough calcium, you are vulnerable to developing leg cramps. It's
quite alarming to realize the extent of calcium deficiency in our
population, particularly among women. While leg cramps are just an
annoyance, another result of calcium deficiency--osteoporosis--is a
crippling disease that can be prevented. To relieve leg cramps and
prevent the long-term problems associated with calcium deficiency,
begin now to increase your calcium consumption. If you're avoiding
fat, try nonfat yogurt and skim milk. In addition, I've had great
success with patients who complain of leg cramps by advising them to
take a calcium supplement at bedtime.?

?Another help for nocturnal leg cramps is vitamin E. In one study of
125 patients with nocturnal leg and foot cramps, all but 2 had
complete or nearly complete relief from their symptoms when they took
vitamin E supplements. In most cases, the symptoms returned when the
supplements were discontinued.
If neither calcium nor vitamin E gives you relief, you may benefit
from magnesium, potassium, or vitamin A.

Because as it has been shown that sugar and caffeine reduce the
absorption of vitamins and minerals, particularly calcium, I advise
patients with cramping problems to eliminate as much sugar and
caffeine from their diets as possible.?
?	Calcium: 1,200 mg. at bedtime, if no results, you can discontinue
but be sure that you are getting 1,200 mg, of calcium daily through
diet and/or other supplements. For pregnant women: Check with your
doctor before beginning supplementation,
?	Vitamin E: 400 I.U. twice a day after meals for two weeks. If
symptoms are relieved, cut down to 400 I.U. once a day, If symptoms
recur, up the dosage until symptoms are relieved but never take more
than 1,200 I.U. daily,
?	Magnesium: 400 mg. daffy. 
?	Vitamin A: 10,000 I.U. daily. 
?	Potassium: 100 mg./daily,

?What can be done about it? 
?	When your calf muscles cramp, flex your foot up (toes to ceiling)
and hold until the cramping stops
?	Apply heat to cramping muscles 
?	Massage the cramped muscles 
?	Make sure you eat plenty of potassium rich foods - (bananas,
tomatoes, potatoes, broccoli, cantaloupe, oranges, grapefruit)

Accupressure: For leg cramps

   ?Are you one that suffers from leg cramps?  Leg cramps can be a
nuisance not to mention very, very painful.  If you experience a more
severe case of leg cramps your daily activities could be ruthlessly
limited but with the use of apple cider vinegar you could eliminate
the cramps and help get your life back.  Try using this natural way of
preventing leg cramps, which is an easy and very inexpensive, combined
one teaspoon of honey, one teaspoon of apple cider vinegar and one
tablespoon calcium lactate in one half glass of water.  By drinking
this mixture you will prevent your leg cramps from reoccurring.  This
is the solution that all people who are suffering from leg cramps are
looking for.?

Valerian, magnesium and chamomile,7518,s1-4-62-1088-5-1X2X3X4X5X6-7,00.html

An unlikely non-medical source, Golfweb, offers some good advice:
?Other possible causes include lack of sodium, dehydration, alcohol,
caffeine, or tobacco use, too much sugar in the diet, pinched nerves,
prolonged sitting, flat feet, certain medications, and less commonly,
diseases like diabetes, anemia, and hypoglycemia. It can't be all of
those things, so you might try making a list and checking off the
least likely suspects. Then take action on the others one at a time.
That may be the only way to isolate or identify the problem.?
?One "expert," who obviously hasn't had a nocturnal leg cramp,
recommends that you completely relax the leg. Forget it. If you could
relax the leg, you wouldn't be having a cramp.

After you finish screaming, go straight to plan B, C, D, or E until
something works. B) Jiggle the leg or try to walk on it. C) Straighten
your leg and bend your ankle back so that your toes point toward your
knee. D) Straighten your leg, loop a towel around the top of your foot
and pull -- anything to stretch the cramped leg. E) Take a hot shower
or warm bath. F) Massage the muscle with ice or a chemical cold pack.?

?Other measures that may or may not prevent cramps include doing a
better job of staying well-hydrated (six to eight glasses of water or
sports drinks per day), wearing shoes that provide better support and
cushioning, taking magnesium, potassium, calcium, or sodium
supplements, or using prescription muscle relaxants at night.?

   ?The only drug that has been shown to be effective in treating
night-time leg cramps is quinine, but the Food and Drug Administration
has ruled that none of the over-the-counter drugs used to treat
night-time leg cramps are recognized as safe or effective and
therefore, will be subject to regulatory action. Doctors often
prescribe 1 or 2 quinine pills at bedtime, but they can cause birth
defects and miscarriages, so they should never be taken by a pregnant
woman. They can also cause ringing in the ears, headache, nausea,
disturbed vision, chest pain and asthma.?

   ?St Johns Wort. This herb, extracted from the St Johns Wort plant,
has been used for centuries for the treatment of depression. Although
not it?s main function, this herb can allegedly be used to relieve
muscular cramps and spasms. It?s worth a try, but I won?t stake my
reputation on it.
If I get cramp, how do I treat it? 

As cramp is an involuntary contraction, in the cramped state, the
muscle is shortened. The only way to remove the cramp is quite simply,
to ease the muscle back to its original length, then to gradually and
progressively stretch it out to lengthen it further. Don?t be in too
much of a hurry to stretch though, or you risk tearing it. Once
stretched, hold this position for at least thirty seconds, or the
cramping muscle will spring back to its original spasmodic state. Once
the cramp has gone you can try to carry on riding, but this may prove
fruitless. When you?ve returned to base, continue to stretch the cramp
stricken muscle and give it a good massage when you?re in the bath.
This will reduce the soreness likely over the next few days.?

   ?Possible reasons for leg/foot cramps may be: poor circulation,
lack of enough salt, dehydration, abnormal mineral or hormone levels,
pinched nerves, alcohol or tobacco use, partially-obstructed flow of
blood to the legs, nutritional deficiency, environmental toxicity or
chemical sensitivity.

As people age, leg cramps become fairly common and related to reduced
activity, or muscle fatigue when the muscles don't get enough blood
supply. Getting moderate regular activity during the day, or
stretching the muscles before bedtime, generally reduces the
likelihood of cramps during the night, as well as wall pushups which
stretch the calf muscles of the leg.?

?In addition to the calcium/magnesium, there are other recommendations
that may lessen the severity of leg/foot cramps, in getting them less
often or shortening the duration. Some of these can improve or
alleviate the problem of cramps: vitamin E (300 IU's/day); taking
B-complex daily (including B-12); Vitamin A (10,000 units/day);
potassium (100 mg/day), but this is best replaced by potassium
chloride salt used liberally on foods (available in supermarket) or
eating foods rich in potassium (bananas, orange juice, potatoes,
etc.); folic acid (800 mcg/day), L-tryptophan (by prescription only),
homeopathic remedies, or herbs especially for leg/foot cramps can be
obtained at health food stores; magnets; tonic water (which contains a
very small amount of quinine which can be helpful for cramping, but
can be dangerous if receiving anticoagulant medication).

Additional suggestions: Sleep with legs bent, avoid high heels,
eliminate sugar and caffeine (caffeine interferes with your body?s
absorption of magnesium, and can make you feel jittery), soak
feet/legs in warm/hot water or use heating pad for ten minutes before
bedtime, place a pillow at the end of the bed to prop up your feet.
For dehydration, drink more water, not alcohol or caffeine, because
they will dehydrate the body even more. If a disorder of the
circulation is responsible, then try wearing graded tension elastic
support hose in bed.?
If all else fails, you might try this ?cure?!

?Ann Landers suggests this ?cure?: put an unwrapped bar of soap under
the sheets so that the cramped leg rests upon it (the soap can be kept
in place by putting rubber bands around it and pinning the rubber
bands to the sheet). Although there is no apparent explanation for
this ?cure-all,? her readers swear that it really works.?

  ?Place a spoon by your bedside. (doesn't have to be silver,
stainless is fine) When you awaken with a leg cramp, put the spoon on
the cramp and it will uncramp instantly. No kidding! Wear socks to bed
(heavy or light, both are effective) and you'll never have another leg
cramp. Rebecca from New Zealand writes; "Keep a wine cork handy and
grip it when a leg cramp occurs. Alternatively, keep one floating
around in the bed. Nobody knows how this works, or why it has to be a
wine cork, but this has been effective for three generations now."
Good one Rebecca! Thanks for sharing! Wallace from Clovis, NM has his
own leg cramp cure; "Place the finger directly below the nose and
press firmly against the upper lip. I used to have severe leg cramps
at night, this procedure has worked every time! Sometimes it may take
several seconds for this to be effective, but stay with it." Connie
from Jeffersonville, IN sent in this one; "For leg cramps put an old
pair of shoes under your bed up side down and you will have no more
leg cramps." And Lisa from Lake Charles, La. says; "Something that I
learned when I was pregnant, to prevent leg cramps, drink orange juice
or eat a banana before going to bed." Thank you all for the great

   ?Crazy Solution To Leg Cramps -- This will sound crazy. on a
medical talk show they talked about leg cramps. You use a regular bar
of soap, any face soap, small or large. Place it in the bottom of your
bed under the sheets. In only a few days it will work. My uncle, dad,
and my self use it and it works. No more quinine water. The first
night I get a cramp, I change it and throw the old bar of soap away.

Cold showers?

??People most prone to cramps are older, have a family history of
cramping and have poor stretching habits.
?Do you get cramps in muscles that are not working very hard during
cycling (such as the biceps)? If you do, this suggests a systemic
factor is the main culprit (e.g., an electrolyte imbalance or
dehydration). However, if cramps only occur in the muscles doing all
the work, then fatigue is probably to blame.
?Do cramps occur only in hot conditions, or do you get them if you
ride hard on mild days? Review your training diary and look for
patterns a la Sherlock Holmes. Check weather conditions, type/length
of ride, eating/drinking patterns the day before, during and after the
ride, location(s) of the cramps, etc.  For example, if your cramps
always occur in the same muscle when you ride a certain bike in a
certain position (i.e. aero), then you can pinpoint it to local muscle
fatigue and train accordingly.

There are links on this page for more information on all of the following ?tips?
?	Tums
?	Endurolytes
?	Better Riding Through Chemistry
?	Salt
?	Magnesium
?	Potassium
?	Kool 'n Fit
?	E-Lyte
?	Hydra Fuel
?	HCH Cramp Stop
?	RendiMax
?	Thermotabs
?	Tonic Water
?	Pickle Juice
?	Train More!

   "My husband had been getting severe leg cramps several times during
the night, probably due to his low  potassium diet. We found many
suggestions on the internet, and the one that worked still surprises
me - I think  it is accupressure. When you get in bed at night, using
your forefinger and thumb, pinch and massage the area  between your
nose and lips for a minute or two. We jokingly tried this, but for 4
nights he had no leg cramps.

The fifth night we purposely didn't do it, and he had a leg cramp that
night. So, he started doing it again and  has no leg cramps since. I
find it hard to believe, and we chuckle about it all the time. But, it
doesn't cost  anything to try and there is no health risk. Clare

I have a better idea, try a leg wrap. have tried my first v8 splash
today and will try the accupressure message between nose and lips--
the pain is so excruciating that I can hardly breath and even though 
I have some old quinine pills."

Alternative therapies (Not endorsed my Google or myself)


Leg Cramp Relief Formula

??Lavender is the Swiss army knife of aromatic oils,? says Los Angeles
aromatic consultant John Steele. He packs the versatile oil on long
road trips to treat ?driver?s leg,? that painful cramp in the calf
that comes from hours of braking and accelerating. To use, he suggests
massaging four or five drops directly on the affected area. ?It works
every time,? says Steele. Tarragon andchamomile essential oils are
also effective for leg cramps, he says.?

??Frequent leg cramps are often a sign of an electrolyte imbalance. I
believe that part of the answer is to increase your intake of calcium
and magnesium,? says Michael A. Klaper, M.D., a nutritional medicine
specialist in Pompano Beach, Florida, and director of the Institute of
Nutritional Education and Research, an organization based in Manhattan
Beach, California, that teaches doctors about nutrition and its
relationship to disease. That means eating your vegetables,
particularly dark green leafy ones such asbroccoli and kale, which are
good sources of both calcium and magnesium, and drinking
calcium-fortified orange juice.

Other health professionals say that besides vegetables, good food
sources of calcium include low-fat dairy products and sardines with
bones. Good sources of magnesium include nuts, beans and whole

?Yoga compression poses will increase blood circulation to your legs,
relieving leg cramps, according to Alice Christensen, founder and
executive director of the American Yoga Association?

   Please discuss any alternative remedies and/or supplements with
your doctor, especially if you are taking any other medications. I
urge you to  discuss your problem with a licensed physician who can
rule out restless leg syndrome, or even thrombosis.
Read about thrombosis here:

Here are some  previous answers you may find useful:

   I hope you soon find relief! If any part of my answer is unclear,
please request an Answer Clarification, and allow e to respond, before
you rate. I will be happy to assist you further before you rate the

Sincerely, Crabcakes

Search Terms

nocturnal + leg cramps
nocturnal + leg cramps + natural remedies
leg cramps + alternative + remedies or cures
leowillman-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars and gave an additional tip of: $25.00

Subject: Re: Leg cramps, cause & natural cure
From: joe916-ga on 14 Mar 2006 05:22 PST
Here's a site

I would start taking a high iron, calcium potassium multivitamin and
an aspirin a day which you probably already do, and eat more bananas.
Subject: Re: Leg cramps, cause & natural cure
From: heeltoe-ga on 14 Mar 2006 06:54 PST
I was told years ago that this was caused by stretching unconsciously
as you waken. I now watch and avoid doing this and the cramps have all
but disappeared.
Subject: Re: Leg cramps, cause & natural cure
From: crabcakes-ga on 16 Mar 2006 05:12 PST
Thank you for the 5 stars and the generous tip! Hopefully you'll get a
good night's sleep from the information!

Sincerely, Crabcakes

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