Everyone certainly knows calf cramps, because almost everyone suffers from them from time to time. The calf cramps are particularly painful at night, because the person concerned has focused all his attention on the strong and stabbing pain that occurs when he is at rest .
What are leg cramps?
The calf cramp describes a painful cramping of the calf muscle in the human leg. The cramp usually occurs spontaneously and once, but some people are also familiar with regular calf cramps. For definitions of keratoconus, please visit lawfaqs.net.
But calf cramps also often occur during sports. In most cases, there is only a deficiency symptom caused by minerals, such as magnesium, and can be quickly compensated for with dietary supplements or foods rich in magnesium.
Basically, a calf cramp is harmless and can easily be treated immediately, so that it is over after a few seconds. In rarer cases, however, leg cramps can indicate a more serious condition that needs to be recognized and treated – an indication of this is more frequent cramps.
The muscle cramps and thus also the calf cramps are temporary malfunctions of the nerves, which, however, are not considered to be pathological. The cause of such malfunctions lies in an imbalance of the electrolytes to the point of deficiency. Calf cramps are particularly often caused by a magnesium deficiency, but there can also be an imbalance in the sodium chloride ratio in the body. These are deficiencies that need to be addressed.
Calf cramps that occur at night, on the other hand, are harmless – they are due to short-term deficiency symptoms that can be compensated for the next day without taking any special steps or treatments. Although such calf cramps are very painful, they have no pathological causes and therefore do not require further treatment.
However, if the calf cramps continue to occur after treatment with electrolytes, another cause is likely – it is usually hyponatremia, in which the sodium content of the body is greatly reduced. This can result from a kidney disorder or hormonal imbalance, but can also be the result of taking diuretics.
Symptoms, Ailments & Signs
A cramp in the calves is usually accompanied by severe pain, which occurs immediately when the cramp occurs. However, in most cases this pain disappears immediately. During such a spasm, there is often a strong tremor of individual muscle groups. Sweating and an elevated temperature can also occur, both of which symptoms often appear afterwards.
In many cases, the affected muscle groups harden, so that smooth movement is not possible afterwards. In most cases, the symptoms of such a cramp in the calves go away completely on their own. However, if cramps in the calves occur more frequently, the cause should be determined as a matter of urgency.
The human body is often undersupplied with a certain nutrient, which can lead to repeated cramps in the calves. If this appearance remains without any treatment by a doctor, then a significant aggravation of the symptoms that occur can be expected. However, if you opt for medical and drug treatment, the existing symptoms will subside and disappear within a very short time. A full and timely recovery without complications is very likely.
When should you go to the doctor?
Calf cramps usually have harmless causes. They indicate disturbances in the mineral balance or tension and usually subside on their own. If calf cramps occur repeatedly, a doctor’s visit is recommended. There may be a serious condition such as Addison’s disease or an underactive thyroid. The doctor must clarify the cause. In the case of recurring calf cramps, a doctor should be consulted if self-help measures are ineffective. Depending on the cause, calf cramps are treated by the general practitioner, an internist or an orthopedist.
In the case of severe cramps, the cause must be determined in a specialist center. If muscle cramps occur after a fall, you should consult a sports medicine specialist. In the case of hormonal causes, the gynecologist or an endocrinologist is consulted. Other contacts are the neurologist and the orthopaedist. For some muscle diseases such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, only symptomatic treatment is possible. Patients need to see their doctor regularly and take medication over the long term to relieve symptoms and delay disease progression.
Treatment & Therapy
If calf cramps occur, the patient must first find relief on their own. The muscle must be relaxed again by pointing and stretching the toes towards the shinbone. This can be done while lying down if the cramp occurred during the night. You can also sit up and support your toes with your hands. After a few seconds, the calf cramp should be over.
If calf cramps occur more frequently at night, a magnesium tablet or magnesium effervescent tablet should be taken in the evening and care taken to drink enough electrolyte-containing drinks throughout the day. Those who prefer natural remedies should include foods with a lot of magnesium in their daily diet. These include above all: Whole grain and whole grain products, oat flakes, oat flour, whole grain flour, peas, brown rice, green vegetables of all kinds, nuts, beans and sunflower seeds (including sesame).
The doctor should only be consulted if these self-treatment measures do not help, since the calf cramp may have another cause that you have not yet considered.
The best way to prevent leg cramps is to prevent the underlying deficiency before it can lead to leg cramps again. The cramp is often due to a deficiency symptom and not to a more serious illness. In addition to the evening magnesium tablet, you should drink enough throughout the day – mineral water would be suitable, sugary drinks are generally less suitable. It is also recommended to eat the magnesium-containing foods already mentioned.
In the case of calf cramps that occur at night, you can go to the doctor and ask him for a recommendation for good magnesium tablets, which, however, are also freely available in the pharmacy or from the drugstore (see our recommended pharmacy).
These simple measures should already help to prevent calf cramps in the future. However, if they are not successful, you should not continue to treat yourself, since the previous cramps can have another cause and are not caused by a deficiency symptom. In this case, the doctor knows the best methods of prevention.
The muscle affected by the calf cramp is stretched against the direction of the cramp. In a seated position on the floor, the toes are grabbed and pulled towards the shin. Taking magnesium supplements and drinks containing electrolytes has a relaxing effect on leg cramps. Magnesium deficiency favors the occurrence of calf cramps.
A massage of the cramped muscle promotes relaxation. Warm shower baths are beneficial and promote relaxation. Treatment with an analgesic ointment promotes healing. Firm footsteps on the floor relieve muscle cramps. Repeated kicks with the soles of the feet against the wall relieve muscle tension.
The occurrence of nocturnal calf cramps can be prevented by adopting a favorable sleeping position. Nocturnal calf cramps in back sleepers are relieved more quickly by a neck roll under the knees. A pillow between your knees helps if you sleep on your side. Stomach sleepers stretch the calves slightly by hanging their toes over the edge of the bed.
Massages with rosemary or St. John’s wort oil relax tense calf muscles. In addition to the relaxing effect, the oil has a positive effect on blood circulation. Plenty of exercise reduces the occurrence of calf cramps. A healthy and balanced diet has a preventive effect against calf cramps.
Home remedies & herbs for calf cramps
- The active ingredients of valerian calm and have an antispasmodic effect. A valerian bath helps with insomnia, nervousness or stress. Add three tablespoons of valerian tincture to a full bath or steep 8 to 12 tablespoons of valerian roots in 3 liters of boiling water and then add this to the bath water. Its nerve-calming effect also makes this bath a help for nervous skin.
You can do that yourself
Often – but not always – the muscles cramp due to a lack of magnesium. But not all commercially available magnesium supplements can compensate for this deficiency. Especially the inexpensive products contain magnesium oxide, which is very poorly absorbed by the body. Magnesium carbonate and magnesium citrate are better, but they can also lead to side effects such as diarrhea with a daily intake of 400 milligrams.
The most efficient way to absorb magnesium is through the skin, for example with a magnesium spray ( pharmacy ). Two to three full baths a week with magnesium chloride or Epsom salt (magnesium sulfate) are also recommended. For this purpose, 300 grams of magnesium chloride or Epsom salt are dissolved in warm bath water up to 39°C. Those affected should now bathe in it for as long as possible so that the magnesium can be absorbed transdermally. Other bath additives should not be used in an Epsom bath.
Calf cramps are often caused by overly acidic muscle tissue. Electrical muscle stimulation (EMS) can help here because it uses gentle current pulses to improve blood flow to the tissue. With the blood, the tissue becomes looser and more basic nutrients can be introduced. Various doctors or therapists offer EMS treatments. But there are also EMS devices for home use that are easy to use. If these measures have not taken effect and nightly calf cramps continue, the doctor should be consulted.