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More Information About Leg Cramps

Leg cramps are painful muscle contractions in the legs. They normally occur when lying down. When they happen at night, they are called nocturnal or nighttime leg cramps. Although leg cramps can occur at any age, nighttime leg cramps are more common in older adults.
In most cases, the cause of nighttime leg cramps is unknown. When the cause is known, it could be due to one of the following:
  • Structural problems, such as flat feet
  • Prolonged sitting or being sedentary
  • Volume depletion, which can occur with excessive sweating, inadequate fluid intake, or diuretic use
  • Certain medical conditions, including Parkinson's disease, diabetes, and hypothyroidism
  • Some medications, such as certain blood pressure medications and benzodiazepines.

Other Suggestions to Treat Leg Cramps

There are many different treatment options for leg cramps. Some of these treatment options include:
  • Stretching or light exercise, such as riding a stationary bike, prior to bed
  • Staying well hydrated
  • Avoiding caffeine and alcohol
  • Keeping bed covers loose instead of tucked in and taut.
If you are experiencing uncomfortable nighttime leg cramps, talk to your healthcare provider about safe and appropriate treatment options for your particular situation.
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Kristi Monson, PharmD;
Last updated/reviewed:
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