Oh, Those Nighttime Leg Cramps!

Nothing is more disturbing and painful than when that leg cramp grabs you in the middle of the night.  Everyone seems to have a different remedy for taking care of this condition. Drs. Elizabeth Ko and Eve Glazier have some suggestions that come from their readers.  Dr. Glazier is an internist and associate professor of medicine at UCLA Health and Dr. Ko is an internist and assistance professor of medicine at UCLA Health. They also offered some information on POCD for the elderly patients.

POCD, or post-operative cognitive dysfunction, occurs in elderly patients that experience mental disruptions following surgery.  It’s also a fact that was found in a study which indicates a wound sustained during the day heals twice as fast as one sustained at night.  The time when surgical cuts are made affects the healing rate and a study has tied the speed of wound healing to the body’s circadian clock.  Incisions from an emergency surgery performed at night healed more slowly than similar daytime incisions.

High intensity exercise can cause leg cramps.  It takes time for your body to adjust and you might get leg cramps in the meantime; similarly, becoming active after an extended period of rest can trigger a leg cramp. Sudden movements can force the muscles to adopt positions that they can’t handle, therefore causing a leg cramp. When visiting the issue of leg cramps at nighttime, many have offered their own remedies for coping with these annoying and painful cramps.  They usually cause awakenings from sleep, but they may also occur while awake at night during periods of inactivity.

These cramps mostly happen in the calf muscles but can also occur in the thighs or feet.  Nocturnal leg cramps are quite painful and cause the affected muscles to feel tight or knotted. One person manages her cramps by making it into her kitchen and microwaving a rice bag for a minute or so.  The heat from that is effective when this person applies it to her cramp.

Another person indicates that standing tall and slowly bending forward towards the floor delivers a thigh and calf stretch that helps to banish the cramps.  Another solution has been drinking 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of baking soda in a glass of water to drink.  Water by itself does not help.  They insist this will banish those cramps within a minute or two.  For me, I have always found that the most effective way to get rid of those unwanted and painful calf and foot cramps is to jump out of bed and walk it off.  In fact, that is the only thing that has helped me address this issue.  It is also very important to stay hydrated all through the day. No matter your remedy, work it out and sleep well!

Dr Fredda Branyon