A muscle cramp can be defined as sudden, uncomfortable and painful tightening of muscles that lasts approximately a few seconds, and sometimes a few minutes. This is one of the worst pains, especially when it happens during sleep. It hurts a lot and slows us down. It usually happens with no reason at all, and people who work out can tell you how often this happens to them.
In this article you can read how to prevent and alleviate leg cramps.
What causes leg cramps?
When a muscle involuntarily contracts on its own is what we call a muscle cramp. Most often there is a hard lump on the painful place – the contracted muscle. Leg cramps sometimes indicate that your body lacks water or some specific nutrients, and in other cases it means that you have a more serious problem, for example kidney infection.
Leg cramps at night, different from restless leg syndrome
Restless leg syndrome (RLS) appear temporarily, usually during pregnancy or it can be a chronic problem. It can be caused by a few medical conditions and genetic factors. RSL and night leg cramp usually occur during the sleep and that is the only thing they have in common. The other symptoms of leg cramps and RLS are different and here are some of their differences:
- RLS is a sore or crawling feeling in the legs
- RSL does not cause pain like the night leg cramps do
- Moving your leg during RLS alleviates you and moving the leg during a leg cramp does not, so you should stretch instead of move your leg.
- RLS makes you want to move your leg and leg cramps make you stay still
Causes and risk factors of leg cramps at night
The reason for leg cramps at night is still unknown, but there are some potential causers and some risk factors that might give you leg cramps, they are the following:
- Too much exercise of the leg muscle
- Long periods in a sitting position
- Inadequate sitting
- Working on concrete floors or standing for too long