Cramps of the calf muscles at night: causes, treatment, prevention

Leg cramps are a common problem. Almost everyone at least once in their life faced with the fact that he reduces the calves of his legs at night. If this happened a couple of times, then you should not worry too much. But frequent muscle spasms are an alarming bell. Thus, the body signals about health problems.

What is calf spasm

A cramp is an involuntary muscle contraction. Usually it is accompanied by tingling, severe pain. As a rule, the spasm lasts from a few seconds to several minutes. In severe diseases, it can be quite long.

Seizures are divided into two main types – idiopathic and secondary. The former are usually provoked by external factors – a heavy load, excess weight. Most often, young people suffer from idiopathic diseases. Secondary – are the result of any disease, can occur at any age.

Calf spasms are one of the most painful. They occur both during the day and at night. Elderly people often suffer from seizures. Less commonly, adolescents and middle-aged people suffer from them. Pregnant women often complain about the occurrence of this symptom.

The main causes of calf muscle cramps during sleep:

  • muscle fatigue;
  • sedentary lifestyle, inactivity;
  • nerve tension;
  • lack of fluid in the body;
  • long exhausting workouts, sports;
  • lack of nutrients;
  • illness.

Spasm in some cases appears when people stretch after sleep. This is because the relaxed muscles tense quite sharply, which causes a cramp. But it quickly usually passes quickly, this is not a reason to seriously fear for your health.

Diseases that can cause cramps at night

If your legs cramp often and it bothers you almost every night, you should see a doctor as soon as possible. Recurring spasms can be caused by:

  • epilepsy;
  • spasmophilia;
  • abscesses;
  • malignant brain tumors;
  • eclampsia;
  • subtle injuries;
  • inflammation and infection;
  • diabetes;
  • varicose veins;
  • tetanus;
  • neurological diseases.

This is far from a complete list. Only a doctor can give you an accurate diagnosis. The therapist will study the medical record and tell you which specialist doctor you need to consult. Most likely, he will prescribe the following studies: blood tests (clinical, for sugar, biochemical), general urinalysis, ultrasound of the veins. Examinations by an endocrinologist, phlebologist, neurosurgeon, neurologist will be useful.

Other causes of spasms

Seizures may not be associated with illness. There are also external factors that provoke them:

  • Hypothermia. Legs can cramp while swimming in cool water. After a long walk in cold weather, cramps in the calves may bother you at night. Sudden changes in temperature also cause muscle spasms.
  • Physical exercise. If you do not play sports for a long time, and then start training, then cramps are a predictable result. Legs can be brought together during sports, and later – for example, at night.
  • Overweight. It is difficult for the body to cope with stress if its owner suffers from extra pounds. Obesity leads to many health problems, and cramps are one of them.
  • Wearing uncomfortable shoes. Women who prefer to wear high-heeled shoes suffer from leg cramps. Feet are deformed due to unnatural position, and a change in the center of gravity leads to overstrain. Hence the pain in the legs and uncontrolled muscle contraction.
  • Sedentary lifestyle. Sedentary work leads to painful spasms. This also applies to work where a person is forced to stand for many hours.
  • Taking certain diuretics. Potassium can also be excreted in the urine. Hormonal contraceptives in some cases also provoke convulsions.

Cramps in the calf muscles during sleep during pregnancy

Pregnancy causes disruptions in the body. Including because of this, painful cramps occur at night. They usually lead to:

  • Vitamin deficiency. Women who are expecting a baby may lack magnesium, calcium, potassium, vitamin B6. Frequent urination also leads to this – useful substances are excreted in the urine.
  • Varicose veins. During pregnancy, the load on the body increases, and circulatory failures occur. Because of this, the necessary substances cannot penetrate the muscles.
  • Decreased blood glucose levels. To maintain the desired level, pregnant women should eat right and break food into smaller portions.
  • Syndrome of the inferior vena cava. Due to the increase in the uterus, the vein is squeezed, and the outflow of blood becomes worse. This leads to cramps in the calves of the legs.
  • Preeclampsia. This is a disease that appears in late pregnancy and threatens the life of both the mother and the child. Among its symptoms are swelling, high blood pressure, excretion of protein in the urine, and frequent convulsions.
  • Eclampsia. A disease, the main manifestation of which is an increase in blood pressure. A characteristic symptom of the disease is severe spasms that can lead to loss of consciousness.

Pregnant women should not miss scheduled checkups. The doctor can detect a dangerous pathology in the early stages, and thanks to prompt assistance, it will be possible to maintain the health of the mother and child.

Cramps in the calves at night in the elderly

Elderly people most often suffer from the manifestation of this symptomatology. Sometimes spasms in the elderly are not too painful and resemble spontaneous twitches. But often cramps cause severe pain. It lasts from a few seconds to 3-5 (in severe cases – tens) minutes.

  • Elderly people are most often prone to spasms at night – due to the fact that the muscles are relaxed, a sharp, powerful contraction occurs.
  • Another reason is fatigue, overwork associated with a load on a certain muscle group.
  • And also spasms occur due to metabolic disorders of calcium, potassium and sodium, congestion in the veins.
  • In the elderly, reduces calves at night for natural reasons. The older the person, the shorter the tendons. Because of this, they can involuntarily shrink.

About 30% of older people at the doctor’s office complain of twitching in the calf muscles and painful spasms. For prevention, you need to balance the diet, do not overwork and go for a massage. Treatment after the examination is prescribed by a doctor. Do not try to diagnose yourself and self-medicate.

What to do during an attack: first aid tips

From night cramps, causing acute pain, a person most often wakes up. There are several exercises with which you can get rid of cramps in a short period of time.

  • Pinch yourself hard on the calf. Repeat several times if the first one doesn’t work. So you can get rid of the pain that appeared due to spasms. A similar way is to prick the leg with something sharp (a needle or pin). But it is not suitable for night cramps – few people, awake, can quickly find a sterile needle and do everything carefully.
  • Do stretching. The cramp will pass if you take your hands on your feet and pull them towards you. You can feel how the muscles both relaxed and tensed. Pretty soon after that, the spasms pass.
  • Get a massage. One of the best options. Ideally, you can ask someone to massage the muscle, but this is easy to do yourself.
  • Stand with bare feet on the floor. For a while, you just need to stand on the floor. If the spasm is not very strong, then try rolling from heel to toe. The muscles will relax and the pain will soon pass.
  • Use a warming ointment.

Seizure treatment

You should not prescribe a full course of treatment for yourself – you should definitely consult a doctor. But if it is known for sure that spasms occur due to a lack of magnesium, potassium and calcium, you can buy inexpensive effective drugs. Panangin , Asparkam proved themselves . Both drugs contain magnesium and potassium aspartate . This is a good prevention of night cramps. The drugs are not contraindicated in the elderly and are well absorbed by the body.

Calcium and vitamin D are found in many complex vitamins. The popular drug “Calcium D3” from “Nycomed”. To compensate for the lack of magnesium, Magne-B6, Magnelis B6, Magnerot , Magvit are recommended .

The drug “Quinine” is effective in the treatment of seizures. However, when taking it, you should be careful and strictly observe the dosage in order to avoid unpleasant side effects. The medicine can only be prescribed by a doctor! If you experience pain, nausea, dizziness, you should immediately stop taking it and consult a doctor.

Another treatment option is the use of ointments. Depending on the cause of muscle spasms, you need to choose the right one. If night cramps are disturbing due to varicose veins, Heparin ointment is suitable.

Doctors advise warming agents such as Troxevasin , Troxerutin , Diosmin . These ointments are recommended to be used twice a day, gently rubbing into the skin with massaging light movements. The use of drugs improves blood circulation, removes swelling and helps to cope with night cramps.

Treatment at home

Some prefer going to the doctor home treatment. Folk remedies are not a panacea for all diseases. A comprehensive examination is recommended. But some methods are effective, we will discuss them below.

  • Lemon juice helps against discomfort in the calves, which is recommended to be rubbed into problem areas and not wiped dry.
  • You can try rubbing the skin with unrefined vegetable oil, in which there was a crushed bay leaf for two weeks. Of the prerequisites – the infusion is stored in a dry, dark place, and the bay leaf is pre-ground into powder.
  • Effective decoction of birch buds. They need to be brewed in a glass of boiling water and drunk for two days.
  • You can use the color of linden. You will need 50 grams of linden flowers (chopped). They are poured with boiling water and infused for 20 minutes. The broth should be filtered and taken a quarter cup three times a day.
  • Spasms are relieved by the infusion of Adonis. The crushed plant is poured with boiling water and insisted, as in the previous recipe. Take in the same way as an infusion of linden blossom.
  • Decoctions from various herbs and plants are effective: walnut, lily of the valley, heather, barberry, hawthorn, blackberry, hops, thyme, chamomile, oregano and black elderberry.
  • Soothes spasms infusion of goose cinquefoil, which must be taken three times a day.
  • To relax the muscles and get rid of cramps, you can make a decoction of fennel fruits, anise, cumin and mint leaves, which are poured with boiling water. The resulting mixture should be infused. It is carefully filtered and drunk all day in small sips.
  • The usual decoction of chamomile also helps. Dried flowers can be bought at any pharmacy, and they are inexpensive. Chamomile needs to be insisted, filled with boiling water, strained. Then take a decoction of a third cup for a week, preferably after meals three times a day.
  • Honey is an anticonvulsant product. It is taken 30 grams before meals three times a day. Within a week, spasms will become much less disturbing. But at the first sign of an allergy to honey, you should stop using it.
  • A mixture of celandine juice and vaseline helps well. They must be mixed in a ratio of 1:2. This composition should be rubbed into the calves in the evenings with massaging movements. In two weeks, the cramps will subside.

Prevention of seizures

To prevent muscle spasm, you should follow the following tips:

  1. Review your diet. Food should provide the body with the necessary vitamins and nutrients. You need to consult a doctor who, after passing the tests, will find out which micro and macro elements are missing. You may need to supplement your diet with vitamin complexes.
  2. Choose comfortable shoes. Those beautiful shoes are only half a size smaller or shoes with 13 cm stilettos are not suitable shoes. It may look beautiful, but it is fraught with problems with the feet, calves and even the spine.
  3. Do a foot massage. It helps improve blood circulation and relieve tension. It is better to massage the feet after work, shortly before bedtime.
  4. Avoid cigarettes and alcohol. If you can’t completely remove alcoholic beverages from the diet, try to drink as little as possible and choose weak ones – cider, wine. Smoking, on the other hand, should be deleted from your life: convulsions are one of the smallest consequences of this bad habit.
  5. Do not exhaust yourself with exercise. Sport is useful, but it is important not to go too far. Overloading will not benefit the body – on the contrary, it will be exhausted.


To prevent cramps and get rid of them for good, there are sets of exercises. Most of them are simple and do not require special training. The main thing is to do them regularly.
You can choose the most suitable option from the following:

  • Stand on your heels, pull your toes up and try to maintain balance for at least ten seconds. Repeat 7 times.
  • Rise on your toes, tearing your heels off the floor, return to the starting position – 10 times.
  • Smoothly “roll” from heel to toe – 10 times.
  • Lie on your back and stretch your arms and legs as far as possible. On the feet, the toes should touch, but the heels should not. After that, pull your arms and legs as much as possible, tensing your muscles with a deep breath, and relaxing as you exhale. Repeat 7 times.
  • Stand near the wall at a distance of about a meter, stretch your arms and rest against it. You should feel the calf muscles stretch. Keep your heels firmly pressed to the floor. Maintain this position for 15 seconds, then return to the starting position. With a small interval, repeat 4-5 times.
  • Walk on tiptoe for a few minutes a day.

Simple tips can help prevent painful spasms. If they have already arisen and bother you often, do not hesitate and consult a doctor.

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