Almost everyone has experienced the agony of leg cramps at night, but is there a way to prevent them? Unfortunately, the answer appears to be no, but it is possible to limit your risk of nocturnal leg cramps.
First, it is of paramount importance to make sure you are drinking plenty of fluids, since dehydration can trigger cramps. During the day women should avoid high heels or completely flat shoes as this will put great strain on your calf muscles. You should instead wear comfortable shoes with low heels. If you are prone to nocturnal leg cramps then I strongly advise my patients to take a few minutes to massage and stretch your calf muscles before going to bed. In addition, you want to avoid tucking your sheets and blankets too tightly as this can actually put pressure on your feet especially if you sleep on your back causing you to point your feet thereby thereby triggering a cramp. Another trick to try is sleeping on your back or your stomach with your feet hanging off the end of the mattress.
One old time remedy that still works is an item you’ll find in the supermarket and that is tonic water. What is it about tonic water that has therapeutic value, you may ask? Well, the active ingredient in tonic water is Quinine which is a wonderful elixir for this problem. There are several medications that have been tried for leg cramps as these include the anti-hypertensive and anti-arrythmia drug Verapamil as well as Benzodiazapines (tranquilizers) such as Clonopin or Ativan. Finally, if you experience a night time leg cramp then immediately pull your toes toward your knee and rub the muscle. Pointing your toe will only make the cramp tighten and will greatly increase your pain.
About the Author:
A highly successful Doctor with a practice in West Bloomfield, Michigan, Jim is also an award-winning broadcast journalist who has served as the “on-air” medical expert for various Detroit radio stations, including: WWJ Radio in Detroit (CBS owned and operated), WJBK-TV (Detroit’s FOX network affiliate) and WKBD in Detroit. He has over 20 years of experience in the medical media industry, including nine years as a national radio medical expert for CNN.
Dr. Jim Bragman has 30 years of experience in private practice, and is also a clinical teacher of medicine at the Wayne State and Michigan State University College of Osteopathic Medical Schools.