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My mom has severe leg cramps. What could be the cause (and cure)?

She says it's like a severe, long-lasting charley horse. But it's not just the calf. It's actually in the front, down to the ankle where it bends (in front), and her toes curl up. It goes clear up the thigh and even to the hip. When it gets very bad, she can't walk.

It seems to ease up when she drinks this stuff with electrolytes, and she takes calcium, magnesium, and potassium when this happens. I rub it for her for as long as I can until I can't do it anymore, and that helps.

What is the cause? A nurse friend of ours said it is not a blood clot, because it starts up when she bends the ankle. Is it just severe cramping? Is there a name for this? She has osteoporosis, could that cause it? Her toes sometimes start to get blue and cold - like maybe it's a circulation problem.

She would take the calcium and stuff regularly, but is not supposed to on account of liver problems.

How can we prevent this, and treat it when it occurs?


3 Answers

  • 4 years ago
    Favorite Answer

    Heron. The camps generally happen in the night while resting. For this there are few reasons.

    1.Cramping during sleep is usually due to an exaggeration of a normal muscle reflex. When you turn during sleep, you contract your calf muscles and stretch their tendons. This stimulates nerve stretch receptors in the tendon and sends a message back to the spinal cord, telling the calf muscles to contract. Sometimes, the muscles remain contracted and hurt. Painful muscle cramps at night can also be caused by nerve damage such as that caused by pinching a nerve, muscle damage, a partially-obstructed flow of blood to the legs and abnormal mineral or hormone levels, so if you have this problem, check with your doctor. If you do not have a serious cause, you can often prevent night cramps by exhausting the stretch reflex before you go to bed by stretching your calf muscles with wall push ups, and applying a heating pad for 10 minutes before you go to sleep.

    2. A problem with muscle cramps can sometimes be a problem with the muscle not being able to function properly due to a lack of proper electrolite balance. Potassium (K), Calcium (Ca), and Magnesium (Mg) are absolutely essential for a muscle to be able to properly fire....and to properly relax. If there is a lack of these minerals in the body, the muscle can temporarily lose the ability to relax and, therefore, cramps. Try taking K, Ca, and Mg suppliments regularly and see if that doesn't make a huge difference.

    3.Restless legs syndrome

    Restless legs syndrome-

    (RLS) is a neurological disorder characterized by unpleasant sensations in the legs and an uncontrollable urge to move them for relief. The sensation typically begins while you're lying down or sitting for an extended period of time, such as in a car, airplane or movie theater. Symptoms typically are less bothersome during the day and are felt primarily at night. Individuals affected with the disorder describe the sensations as burning, creeping, tugging, or cramping. The sensations range in severity from uncomfortable to irritating to painful. For those with mild to moderate symptoms, many physicians suggest certain lifestyle changes and activities to reduce or eliminate symptoms. Decreased use of caffeine, alcohol, and tobacco may provide some relief. Physicians may suggest that certain individuals take supplements to correct deficiencies in iron, folate, and magnesium. Taking a hot bath, massaging the legs, or using a heating pad or ice pack can help relieve symptoms in some patients. Physicians also may suggest a variety of medications to treat RLS, including dopaminergics, benzodiazepines (central nervous system depressants), opioids, and anticonvulsants.

    4. Osteoporosis is a reduction in bone density. It results when rate of bone breakdown exceeds the rate of bone formation. This will not lead to any muscle cramp and hence this reason can be Ruled out.

    5. There is a severe possibility of getting cramps due to thinning of blood vessels in the leg area. It is another type of angina and treatment for this is diluting the blood, by giving Aspirin. She can take Aspirin tablets of 100 or 150 mgs./day and this may give best results. This happens when the patient is (a) bulky and overweight (b) presence of cholesterol in Blood (3) if the patient is 60/70 years due to aging.

    Another best remedy for this, getting enough exercise viz. Walking - slow or fast as may be possible by the patient daily in the morning and evening at least 20 to 30 minutes each.

    I am having such pain and cramp very often and in my case it is due to thinning of the blood vessels in the leg area. -

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  • 4 years ago

    It is often very difficult to figure out what causes leg cramps. I had them for years, almost every night, and just within the last couple of months they are under control. My doctor and I think mine were related to a number of factors, and it took a while to figure it out. Exercising, overuse of muscles, pregnancy, a thyroid problem, a kidney problem, blood flow problems, exposure to cold, standing on a hard surface for extended periods or sitting for extended periods, not having enough of the minerals you mentioned, being dehydrated, or taking certain medications such as medicines for heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and others can all cause leg cramps. So there are some basic things she can do that might help.

    1. She needs to talk to her doctor about the leg cramps. She shouldn't continue suffering and trying home remedies to fix it without also making sure that they aren't being caused by a medical condition.

    2. Get in a hot shower when the cramp starts. Or in a bath, or use a heating pad. Heat often helps.

    3. Immediately she should start drinking more water - much more than she thinks she needs. She should drink at least 3 quarts of water a day, and maybe more if she is very active or living in a hot place.

    4. Tell her to read about tonic water. Some people find that drinking tonic water helps with leg cramps. Tonic water has quinine in it, which in the past used to be prescribed for leg cramps. But she should ask her doctor about the tonic water to make sure it is okay for her to drink it. It did help me.

    My leg cramps seem to have been caused by a combination of the factors above - medications, dehydration, low thyroid levels, standing too long. I drink much more water now, am taking a higher level of thyroid medication, and being more careful about my diet and the shoes I wear when I have to stand for long hours, and my cramps have totally stopped. I have been cramp free for about two months.

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  • GA41
    Lv 7
    4 years ago

    Cramps are often a result of a lack of salt. Increase her salt intake and see if things don't get better.

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