Home > Why You Should Never Ignore Leg Cramps
Updated on Oct 18, 2022 by Dr. Jonathan Arad (Vein Doctor) of Vein Care Center
Recurring leg cramps can disturb your home and work life and even restrict your movements with intense pain, tingling, and numbness in the leg that strikes unexpectedly. You should not ignore tormenting muscle cramps as they may be a sign of nerve damage or poor blood flow and require immediate medical attention. Schedule an appointment with an expert vein doctor to know about the possible causes of leg cramps and their treatment. Dr. Jonathan Arad at the Vein Care Center will thoroughly investigate your symptoms and address the underlying issue to provide lasting relief.
Leg cramps can strike suddenly with intense, out-of-the-blue leg pain. Also called a ‘Charley horse’, a cramp occurs when the leg muscles contract involuntarily and cannot relax. Camps can strike in hands, arms, abdomen, and feet but calves and thighs are the most frequently affected areas. A cramp can last from several seconds to a few minutes, and you can feel a raised knot when you touch the affected area.
Leg cramps are common and usually harmless conditions when muscles in the leg suddenly become tight and painful. The cramps often occur in calf muscles, but they can affect any other part of the leg, including feet and thighs.
In three out of four cases, cramps occur at night while you are asleep. Even after the cramp has passed, you may feel pain and tenderness in the leg for several hours, depending on the severity of the attack.
During a cramp, the muscles suddenly contract, which shoots pain up the leg. It is called a spasm, and during this spasm, you cannot control the affected muscles. The cramps can last anywhere from a few seconds to 10 minutes. You can only move the affected muscles once the spasm has passed.
Mostly very young and old people get afflicted by leg cramps. It has been observed that athletes and overweight people suffer from muscle spasms more than others. The risk for muscle cramps increases for those with an inactive lifestyle in their advanced age.
Causes of leg cramps are sometimes unknown or idiopathic. It can be anything from something mild and harmless to a serious medical disorder that must be checked by an expert physician. You must visit a doctor who will diagnose the causes behind frequently occurring and painful leg cramps and identify the underlying medical conditions if any.
Some common possible causes of idiopathic leg cramps include:
Secondary causes of leg cramps include:
Certain types of medications are known to cause leg cramps in a small number of people.
Medications that can trigger cramping include:
Do not stop taking your prescribed medication or start any new treatment without the doctor’s advice, as it could lead to other complications.
Consult your doctor if you think your leg cramp is a result of any of these secondary causes. The doctor will identify the reasons behind leg cramps using the most advanced diagnostic equipment and develop the best solution to prevent recurring painful episodes.
In some cases, leg cramps occur when a sufficient amount of blood does not reach the lower extremities of the body. Arteriosclerosis or narrowing of the arteries that deliver blood to the legs can also produce cramp-like pain in the legs and feet while you exercise or walk.
Reasons for insufficient blood supply include:
Your leg cramps can be a sign of some underlying medical condition if they occur too frequently and cause excruciating pain. Do not let this pain and discomfort affect your health. Seek advice from an expert vein doctor to know what is triggering the cramps.
Seek immediate medical help if:
Proper diagnosis and treatment become necessary if you get muscle cramps frequently or they are severe and wake you up from sleep at nighttime, leaving you unable to function the next day.
As a leading veins specialist, Dr. Jonathan Arad will evaluate your vein health with a physical exam and screening tests with sound-wave technology that create images of blood flow in the legs to devise treatment options that ease your pain. If your cramps result from medication, the doctor may adjust the dosage or change the formula to avoid the side effects.
The best way to prevent painful muscle spasms is to control the circumstances that increase their likelihood. Ignoring leg cramps can only end up aggravating the condition, especially if they are a side effect of medication, dehydration, or infection in the body.
Some effective ways to treat occasional leg cramps include:
The doctor prescribes treatment and medication to relieve cramps depending on the intensity of pain and the frequency with which they occur. However, if the leg cramps are a symptom of some other condition, addressing that underlying cause is the only way to seek relief.
Do not take persistent leg cramps lightly. They may seem easy to handle, but if self-care and prevention are not helping, you must get medical assistance. Schedule an appointment with an expert doctor to determine your vein health and find out more about the causes of intense leg pain and its effective cure. With advanced diagnostic equipment and careful physical examination, Dr. Johnathan Arad at the Vein Care Center will propose a customized treatment plan depending on your specific symptoms to provide lasting relief from cramps.Dr. Jonathan Arad has either authored or reviewed and approved this content.