Treatment for leg cramps
Treatment for leg cramps is necessary because muscular cramps in the calf and feet could be excruciating, mainly because they often happen in the nighttime your night sleep is disrupted.
You can generally treat muscle leg cramps with self-care procedures. Your physician can explain stretching exercises that may help you diminish the frequency of episodes of muscular cramps. You have to maintain the well-hydration of your body. Your family doctor might recommend some medications for persistent leg cramps that interrupt your night’s sleep.
However, sometimes the issue is more complicated and requires proper diagnosis and professional care. In this article, Dr. Tsan will convey his opinion and experience on traditional and holistic options for leg cramps treatment. This article is to discuss, what are the most effective approaches to treatment for leg cramps, what are the best medications for leg cramps available OTC or by prescription, what are the most popular supplements for leg cramps, how to stop leg cramps immediately, and finally, how herbs, acupuncture, and homeopathic remedies for leg cramps can help you to fight this annoying medical condition.
Most cases of leg cramps can be relieved by exercising the affected muscles. Exercising your legs throughout the day often helps reduce the frequency of cramps.
To stretch your calf muscles, stand with the front half of your feet on a step with your heels hanging over the edge. Slowly lower your heels so they are below the step. Hold the position briefly before lifting your heels to the starting position. Repeat a few times.
Medication is usually only required in the most stubborn cases where the spasms do not respond to exercise.
If you suffer from secondary leg cramps, taking care of the underlying medical condition will likely relieve your nocturnal leg cramps.
Leg cramps during pregnancy should go away after the baby is born.
Treatment for leg cramps that result from severe liver disease can be more difficult. Your treatment plan may include the use of medications such as muscle relaxants.
Medications for leg cramps
Currently, there are no recommended medications for leg cramps that can prevent muscle contracture 100% of the time. However, some prescription drugs show little evidence of preventing leg cramps. Under your doctor’s watchful eye, you can try the following:
- Carisoprodol (Soma®): A muscle relaxant.
- Diltiazem (Cartia XT®): A calcium channel blocker.
- Orphenadrine (Norflex®): Treats muscle spasms and relieves pain and stiffness.
- Verapamil: A calcium channel blocker.
But first things first.
What are muscle cramps?
Leg cramps are sudden, involuntary, intense muscle pains, usually in the calves, feet, or thighs. This condition is also known as “Charlie’s Horse.” Sometimes a cramp can cause a muscle spasm, an uncontrollable strain. While cramps can be excruciating, they are generally harmless and not life-threatening.
A Charley horse feels like a muscle contracted and tightened in a knot. Muscle spasms can be cruelly unpleasant, excruciating, or even intolerable. Your muscles in the area may ache for hours after the cramp is gone.
Leg cramps at night occur when you are not very active or asleep. They can wake you up, make it difficult to go back to sleep and leave you feeling sore all night. Annually, monthly, weekly, or nightly – the recurrence rate of muscle spasms varies from person to person depending on general medical condition, routine diet regimen, and age. Nocturnal leg cramps can affect anyone of any age, but they are most common in older adults. Of those over 60, 33% experience leg cramps at least every two months at night. Almost every adult over 50 will experience them at least once. Seven percent of children will do it too. About 40% of pregnant women suffer from leg cramps at night. This is probably because the extra weight of pregnancy strains the muscles.
Three-quarters (75%) of all reported leg cramps occur at night.
An occurrence of a leg cramp can go on from several seconds to several minutes.
The older a person is, the more likely he/she will experience leg cramps. This is because tendons (the ligaments that connect your muscles and bones) naturally shorten with age. Women are also more likely to experience muscle spasms than men. Up to 60% of adults experience leg cramps at night, as do up to 40% of children and teenagers.
Some patients ask about the differences between nocturnal leg cramps and restless legs. Although both nocturnal leg cramps (leg cramps that happen at night time and wake up sufferer) and restless legs syndrome tend to occur at night or when you are at rest, restless legs syndrome does not cause severe pain. Restless Legs Syndrome is unpleasant but not painful. It’s a discomfort feeling that forces you to move your legs. When you move your legs, the restlessness ends briefly, but discomfort remains.
What causes leg cramps?
The causes of muscle cramps not always can be determined for each particular patient. Sometimes nocturnal leg cramps arise for no identified reasons, and those muscle spasms are known as idiopathic leg cramps. Another medical term, secondary leg cramps, is applied to muscle spasms that are symptoms or complications of underlying health conditions. The root cause of idiopathic cramps in the legs is up for discussion and further investigation.
Possible causes of idiopathic muscle spasms are:
- Involuntary nerve discharges.
- Restriction of blood supply.
- Too many high-intensity exercises.
- Pregnant women often have leg cramps during days and nights.
- Possible causes of leg cramps at night (nocturnal leg cramps) include:
- Sitting for long periods.
- Overuse of muscles.
- Standing or working on concrete floors.
- Sitting improperly.
An underlying condition or other identifiable cause causes secondary leg cramps. The list of those conditions may include the following:
- Pregnancy: The extra weight of pregnancy can put a strain on the leg muscles, making them more prone to cramps
- Training: Leg cramps often occur when you are resting after training
- Neurological disorders (disorders affecting the nerves in your leg muscles): for example, motor neuron disease or peripheral neuropathy
- Liver disease: When your liver isn’t working properly, toxins build up in your blood, which can cause your muscles to spasm
- Infection: Some types of bacterial infections, such as Tetanus, can initiate muscle spasms and seizures
- Contaminants: In some individuals, high levels of toxic elements in the bloodstream, such as lead or mercury, can trigger leg cramps
- Dehydration: In some people, low levels of water in the body can cause salt levels to drop, which can trigger muscle cramps
Certain medications are known to cause leg cramps in a small number of people. The list of these pharmaceutical drugs includes:
- Water pills: diuretics eliminate a significant amount of fluids from the body and are thus used to deal with medical conditions such as high blood pressure, heart failure, and some types of kidney diseases
- Statins: are used to treat people with high blood cholesterol levels
- Raloxifene: is used to prevent osteoporosis (thinning of bones) in women who have gone through menopause
- Nifedipine: Nifedipineis represents a category of pharmaceutical drugs known as calcium-channel blockers. These medications are typically used to treat angina pectoris and Raynaud’s disease.
- Nicotinic acid: is used to treat high cholesterol.
It is essential to pinpoint what causes muscle cramps in your particular case. Based on the cause of muscle cramps, your treatment may vary. Contact your doctor if you think your medication may be causing leg cramps, as your dosage may need to be adjusted. Never stop taking a prescription drug unless your GP or another qualified healthcare professional responsible for your care advises you to do so.
How to prevent leg cramps?
The most common question I hear from my patients is: “How to stop leg cramps at night?”
If you often get leg cramps, regularly stretching your lower leg muscles can help prevent cramps or reduce their frequency.
You may find it helpful to stretch your calves before going to bed each night.
If you’re prone to nighttime leg cramps, these six tips can help prevent the cramps from happening again:
- Lots of uphill walking/running or stair climbing shortens the back muscles and the muscles and tendons on the back of the legs, making them more susceptible to cramping later. Focus your attention on stretching these muscle groups after a hilly workout.
- Opt for a therapeutic deep-tissue massage with an experienced practitioner. Ask him to teach you techniques for the leg and foot muscle groups, so you can get rid of knots before they become disabling cramps.
- Loosen bedspreads so they don’t press down on your feet and shorten your arch muscles, encouraging them to cramp.
- Drink when you feel thirsty, especially after exercise. Don’t overdo it. Tea, coffee, smoothies, fruit, and vegetables contribute to meeting your daily fluid requirements.
- Eat a variety of foods rich in potassium and magnesium daily. Good choice: black beans, beans, nuts and seeds, potatoes, sweet potatoes, leafy vegetables (especially beets), bananas, and other fruits.
- Stay flexible by stretching regularly.
Here are two typical episodes:
Basic calf stretch
- Stand with your palms against the wall, arms outstretched
- Step back with the affected calf leg
- Put forward on the healthy limb and push the counter to the wall
- You should feel a stretch in your calf muscle and the back of your leg.
- Keep your legs straight in front of you
- Point the toes of the affected foot towards the ceiling so the leg is engaged.
- Take a towel or tie and wrap it around your foot, holding it with both hands.
- Raise your leg a little until you experience a decent stretch
The following nightly advice can also help:
If you lie on your back, make sure your toes are facing up – placing a pillow on your side at the end of the bed, with the soles of your feet propped up against it, can help keep your feet in the correct position.
If you lie on your front, hang your feet over the edge of the bed – this will keep your feet relaxed and help prevent your calf muscles from twitching and straining.
Keep your sheets and blankets loose.
How to stop leg cramps immediately
- Take several deep breaths and try to stay relaxed. Panic may cause the affected muscles to tighten further, and the contraction may lengthen or worsen.
- If the contraction is in the muscles of the arch or calf, pull your toes tightly towards the head and continue stretching until the contraction subsides. The stretching will reduce the strain so that the muscles can rest. You may need to sit down, bend over, and stretch your fingers forward with your hands.
- If the contraction is in the back of your thigh, get out of bed, bend at the waist against your forearms, and bend forward until you feel the contracting muscles stretch. Keep the stretch until the contraction subsides.
- I was lucky enough to use a towel or a woven stretch strap to straighten out particularly malignant hamstrings in hamstrings.
- When the acute pain has subsided, stand up and walk a little to get oxygen to the tense muscles. A cold compress or a hot compress can help. I like long, rectangular “bean bags” (canvas casings filled with beans or other seeds) heated in the microwave for a few minutes and wrapped around sore muscles.
Natural remedies for leg cramps
Cramps usually occur for a reason. If you haven’t pulled a muscle, you are likely experiencing cramps because your muscles are tired or excessively worn out or your body is dehydrated.
Or maybe you don’t have enough electrolytes like potassium or magnesium. These minerals help your muscles run more smoothly, and the fluids help your body process the minerals.
Muscle cramps remedies are commonly used in Western and holistic branches of medicine, and scientists from both sides found them highly effective and safe.
Most cases of muscle spasms do not indicate a disturbing underlying condition. People aged 65 and over are more at risk for them. The cramps may be related to alcoholism, hypothyroidism, or diabetes. If your contraction frequency bothers you, tell your doctor.
Home remedies for leg cramps
Leg cramps are triggered by overuse of muscles, dehydration, stress, or fatigue. This is a prevalent condition; however, if your calves cramp painfully when you try to fall asleep or if a muscle frequently locks up for no apparent reason, the cause is a faulty chemical signal from the nervous system. This signals the muscle to contract. So, what’s good for leg cramps? What are the best remedies for Charlie’s horse?
Let’s discuss this.
Best home remedies for leg cramps:
Place an electric heating pad or warm washcloth over the misbehaving muscle to relax the cramp and increase blood flow to the affected tissue. Set pad to low, apply for 20 minutes, then remove for at least 20 minutes before reapplying.
Get a long-lasting hot shower or hot bath. For extra relief, pour half a cup of Epsom salt. The magnesium in Epsom salt promotes muscle relaxation.
Find the epicenter of the muscle cramp. Press down on this spot with your thumb, the heel of your hand, or a slightly closed fist. Hold for 10 seconds, then press again. You’re doing it well if you feel discomfort but not excruciating pain. After many repetitions, the pain from the cramp should begin to lessen.
Magnesium supplements for prevention of muscle spasms.
If you regularly have leg cramps unrelated to a more severe condition, you can try adding more magnesium to your diet. Nuts and seeds are excellent sources of magnesium.
Magnesium Trusted Source has been suggested to treat muscle spasms in pregnant women, but more research is needed. Talk to your doctor before taking any magnesium supplements if you are pregnant.
Zinc supplements for muscle spasms
This paragraph explains that zinc benefits the body in many ways. Zinc is well-known in traditional Western medicine and homeopathy as a microelement that supports a robust immune system, improves learning and memory, maximizes and speeds up wound healing processes, reduces age-related medical conditions, and improves fertility. Research has also found that this nutrient can help relieve specific muscle cramps.
For example, a 2000 study published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition involved 12 cirrhotic patients who experienced muscle cramps at least three times a week, usually in the calves, feet, and hands. After receiving 220 mg BID of zinc sulfate for 12 weeks, 10 out of 12 patients reported improvement regarding muscle cramps. Seven of them indicated that their cramps had disappeared entirely.
Zinc has also been found to be beneficial if cramping is related to menstruation. An article in Medical Hypotheses states that up to three doses of 30 mg of zinc taken daily for one to four days before menstruation can help prevent menstrual cramps.
The use of heat – the most common home remedy for leg cramps
Many personal trainers and physical therapists also recommend using magnesium outside the body as Epsom salt. A great selection of these products is available online.
Try applying this old-school remedy to a damp cloth and squeezing it against a tense muscle or adding a little to a hot bath to soak yourself.
A hot bath relieves many people, with or without Epsom salts.
In dry heat procedures, applying a heating pad is often practical.
Turn on the pad on the lowest setting and only increase the heat when you are not relieved.
If you suffer from diabetes, a spinal cord injury, or another condition that may prevent you from feeling the heat, an electric pillow is not a good option.
Hydration – a vital part of the treatment for Charlie’s horse
Dehydration is one of the leading causes of leg and muscle cramps in general. According to Dr. Goldman, you should drink at least 6 to 8 glasses of water daily, but increasing your intake is recommended if you’re active, especially outdoors.
Generally, the purpose of hydration is to keep the urine clear. If the urine turns yellow, amber, orange, etc., you may be dehydrated and need to increase your water intake.
Another way to avoid dehydration is to limit the amount of alcohol and caffeine you consume.
Supplements for leg cramps
There is scientifically proven evidence that vitamin and microelement deficiencies can initiate leg cramps.
Some of these vitamins and minerals, based on their Recommended Dietary Allowance for adults and youngsters, help alleviate the intensity of leg cramps or prevent them from arising.
|Vitamin or mineral||RDA for adults|
|Thiamine (Vitamin B1)||1.1-1.2 milligrams (mg)|
|Cobalamin (Vitamin B12)||2.4 micrograms (mcg)|
|Vitamin D||15 mcg (600 international units – IU)|
Note that potassium has an Adequate Intake rather than an RDA because there is insufficient evidence to confirm an RDA.
A person’s RDA or AI can change based on age and gender and whether they are pregnant or breastfeeding. The above amounts are suitable for most adults.
Foods to help with a nocturnal muscle spasm in the legs.
Regarding TCM, leg cramps are associated with poor circulation and cold feet, so people are advised to eat foods that can provide warmth and promote body circulation; healthy foods include black fungus, brown sugar, animal liver, and lamb. , beef, goose, duck, eggs, rabbit meat, Chinese yam, sesame, glutinous rice, dates, longan pulp, mushrooms, nuts, and leeks. The daily diet should include a variety of foods, and frozen and raw foods are best avoided. In addition, they should eat more foods that promote muscle and tendon healing. Healthy foods include chicken, shrimp, snake meat, sea cucumber, animal tendons, carp, cuttlefish, taros, celery, mulberry, cherry, carambola, chestnut, walnut, and soy. , hyacinth, daylily, olives, loofah, onion, ginger, coix seeds, cinnamon, and fennel, which help dispel cold and dampness and improve blood circulation in the limbs.
Acupuncture for leg cramps
Acupuncture is an effective option for relieving and eliminating muscle spasms. Muscle cramps are usually a sign of a blockage in the blood and energy flow to an area of the body. When this happens, the area becomes weak and less able to function correctly, making it more vulnerable to injury, overwork, and pain. Additionally, in Traditional Chinese medicine, the liver and gallbladder meridians are accountable for feeding the tendons and ligaments of the body. Muscle cramps can be one of the symptoms if there is an imbalance in these organs or if they are not functioning correctly. Acupuncture treatment for muscle spasms usually involves restoring the energy flow of the liver and correcting any problems associated with its functioning. By addressing underlying health conditions or imbalances contributing to muscle spasms, we can help restore health to prevent future muscle spasms from recurring.
Acupuncture can help increase blood circulation, relieve muscle spasms, and relax the body, and the results are usually quite immediate. That makes acupuncture a perfect choice for treating muscle cramps. With ongoing treatments, acupuncture can help improve the health and functioning of the body so that it performs better and is less prone to muscle cramps. In this way, it offers relief and the resolution of the problem. Whether you’re an athlete striving for peak performance or have a chronic illness and live with muscle cramps, acupuncture can relieve and help you return to your daily routine.
Acupuncture and moxibustion can effectively suppress overactive muscles and are usually used to treat muscle cramps. In TCM, leg cramps are mainly due to cold stimulation and improper leg blood and qi activities; acupuncture may promote circulation, loosening tendons, relieving cramps, and relieving pain.
Recommended acupoints: cheng shan (BL 57), Wei Zhong (BL 40), Kun Lun (BL 60), yang ling Quan (Gb 34), hou xi (Si 3), and Zu san li (St 36).
During an episode of cramps, the hou xi (Si 3) on the opposite side is selected. Insert a needle and rotate to get the feel of the needle, then use the reducing method to increase the stimulations until the cramp disappears.
During the period of remission, cheng shan (BL 57), Wei Zhong (BL 40), Kun Lun (BL 60), yang ling Quan (Gb 34), and Zu san li (St 36) are stimulated. ). Apply daily, on an alternate side each time, and hold the needle with moxa heating or electrical stimulation for 1 hour, ten times in a treatment cycle.
Cupping therapy is also appropriate at these points; the cups are retained for 5 minutes.
Analysis: The Leg Tai Yang Bladder Meridian runs through the affected region. Acupuncture stimuli are usually along this meridian to promote blood and qi flow from the legs. Cheng Shan (B 57), Wei Zhong (B 40), and Kun Lun (B 60). The yang ling Quan (Gb 34) is a point in the sea where the Qi meridian meets. It is also an influential point that specializes in solving the tendon problem. The Hou xi (Si 3) is a merging acupoint, where it connects with the Yang Heel Vessel and helps normalize and control lower limb movement and sleep cycle.
The scraping therapy promotes blood and qi flow, activates the meridians, and induces sweating to expel pathogens from the body’s surface, facilitating the body’s recovery. It’s an easy and convenient way to promote health. The operator uses a tool lubricated with vegetable oil or warm water to scrape on the body’s surface until the skin area turns a purplish-red color.
For lower leg cramps, the selected regions are the back and sides of the spine and the back of the knees. First, clean and wipe the regions with a damp cloth, then scrape the sides of the spine, constantly scraping in the same direction; apply evenly, gradually increasing the strength. Scratch 10-20 times on each side until reddish streaks appear on the skin. Then scrape the back of your knees in the same way.
Don’t scratch the same spot again until the patches of skin have faded. The scraping therapy is NOT a suitable treatment for leg cramps for people with severe medical conditions, skin lesions, a tendency to bleed, being too thin or hungry, or immediately after eating.
Chinese herbs for muscle spasms in feet, calves, and legs
- White Peony Root (7.5g) and Roasted Licorice Root (7.5g). Decoction with 750 ml of water, boil, then simmer for 30 minutes. Drink daily for seven days.
- Flowering quince fruits (7.5 g), medicinal evodia fruits (6 g), and salt (1.5 g). Decoction with 750 ml of water, boil, then simmer for 30 minutes. Drink daily for seven days.
- Flowering quince (5 g), white peony root (7.5 g), roasted licorice root (7.5 g), fossil bone (7.5 g), and oyster shell (7.5 g ). First, decoct the fossil bone and the oyster shell with 1000ml of water, boil briskly for 30 minutes, then add the other ingredients and simmer for 30 minutes. Drink daily for seven days.
- Angelica root (4.5 g), white peony root (7.5 g), oyster shell (15 g), spatholobus stem (7.5 g), and roasted licorice root (4 .5g). First, decoct the oyster shell with 1000 ml of water, boil briskly for 30 minutes, then add the other ingredients and simmer for 30 minutes. Drink daily for seven days.
- Anemarrhena rhizome (6 g), flowering quince (6 g), white peony root (6 g), toasted licorice root (6 g). Decoction with 750 ml of water; boil and then simmer for 30 minutes. Drink every day for seven days.
- Black soy (made with vinegar), eat 20-30 pieces daily.
Homeopathy – the #1 treatment for muscle spasm
Homeopathy is a system of medicine that is very holistic. Homeopathy focuses on the causes of an ailment rather than just treating the symptoms. Homeopathic remedies do not produce any side effects, unlike conventional treatments. In addition to treating the symptoms, homeopathic remedies also help improve your overall well-being.
Numerous homeopathic remedies are effective for the treatment of leg cramps. The remedies focus on treating any underlying condition causing these leg cramps and relieving symptoms. The first step in treatment is diagnosing the condition, which a qualified professional does. You will be asked questions related to cramps and your diet. Once the diagnosis is complete, medications are prescribed based on the diagnosis. There may be some dietary restrictions that you will need to follow for your medications to work optimally. This system of medicine may also require you not to do any hard work that involves your legs, as rest is required to speed up the recovery process.
Homeopathic leg cramp remedies work gently and effectively to alleviate the problem in the long run. These homeopathic remedies treat the root cause of leg cramps to provide excellent recovery. In the homeopathic system of medicine, there is a substantial list of homeopathic remedies for leg cramps. The most suitable homeopathic remedy for leg cramps among them, however, is selected individually for each patient.
Most common homeopathic remedies for leg cramps:
Cuprum Metallicum – natural leg cramps remedy
Cuprum Metallicum is a very effective drug for treating violent leg and foot cramps. Calf muscle pain associated with drawing or kicking may appear. Muscle spasms and cramps can be extreme. Feet may feel icy cold and sweating. Some other features include weakness and shaking legs.
Magnesium Phosphoricum – Natural Remedy for leg ramps that appear after exercise
Magnesium Phosphoricum is a natural treatment for leg cramps caused by exercise. The cramps appear in the calves and feet and may worsen at night in bed. Magnesium Phosphoricum is very useful for the cramps of runners or leg cramps in athletes. Acute leg cramps in the elderly are also well treated with this drug. Besides, Magnesium Phosphoricum is also well-indicated for leg cramps during pregnancy.
Rhus Toxicodendron – Effective Homeopathic Medicine For Leg Cramps Relieved By Walking
Rhus Toxicodendron offers a natural remedy for leg cramps that improve with walking. People who need Rhus Toxicodendron have cramps in their calves when lying in bed and sitting or after walking. In cases requiring Rhus Toxicodendron, nocturnal worsening of cramps is also well noted. Foot cramps that improve on walking also indicate the need for the homeopathic medicine Rhus Toxicodendron.
Calcarea Carbonica – Effective Homeopathic remedy for leg cramps At Night
Calcarea Carbonica is a natural medicine for leg cramps that appear overnight. The leg tightens with a hard knot in the calf muscles. Cramps may appear in the thigh, the calves of the legs, or the soles of the feet or toes. Extending the legs also leads to leg cramps.
Anacardium Orientale – Homeopathic medicine for leg cramps from walking
Anacardium is a natural homeopathic preparation made from the layer between the shell and the kernel of a plant nut called Malacca Bean or Marking Nut. This plant belongs to the family of Anacardiaceae. Anacardium Orientale is well-indicated for leg cramps that appear when walking. Lying down eases cramps. Besides the above, Anacardium Orientale is also useful for leg cramps that appear when getting up from a seat. Tense pain in the calves of the legs with insomnia also indicates the need for this drug.
Causticum – Homeopathic Remedy for Morning Leg Cramps
Causticum is an effective homeopathic medicine for leg cramps that appear in the morning in bed. Intense tearing and drawing pains are felt in the leg. Causticum is also indicated for foot and Achilles tendon cramps, especially when stretching the foot. Tearing, throbbing, or dull pain in the lower leg and feet with every movement may also be present with the above features.
Sulfur – A natural homeopathic treatment for leg cramps caused by stretching the legs or feet
When stretching the legs or feet, sulfur homeopathic medicine is indicated for leg cramps. Cramps that are usually successfully treated with Sulfur may occur in the legs, feet, or even toes. Calf cramps during dancing or walking also indicate its use. In most cases of leg cramps, there is a burning sensation in the soles of the feet.
Ferrum Metallicum – Natural treatment for leg cramps at night
Ferrum Metallicum is another homeopathic medicine used to treat leg cramps at night while resting. There is a painful, drawing pain in the legs. Cramps in the toes also appear with painful cramps. A person may also tend to tire quickly while walking.
Natural Treatment for leg cramps in Philadelphia
If you suffer from leg cramps and the regular home-based measures, don’t help consider naturopathic treatment approaches. Holistic treatment methods for leg cramps are effective, safe, and affordable. Choose Philadelphia Holistic Clinic for your treatment because
- We are the #1 naturopathic facility in the City of Brotherly Love
- Our holistic clinic is led by the medical doctor Victor Tsan who has 45+ years of academic and clinical experience.
- All holistic treatment methods for leg cramps (acupuncture, yoga, homeopathy, reiki, etc.) are available under one roof at the clinic.