What is the #1 Best Treatment for Leg Cramps? Shocker

What is the best treatment for leg cramps? The answer is really not too far afield – if you know where to look. If you are reading this, then you are probably a fellow sufferer who already knows that what works for Mr. A may not work for Ms. B. So where do you begin?

This article is a “down-to-earth” perspective about the treatment of leg cramps and the realization with many senior friends that often, many of us have been putting the cart before the horse! Really?

Your Very First Leg Cramp

Think back to your very first leg cramp? How did you feel through that excruciating pain? Panic? Alarm? Seeing stars?

Let me tell you my experience – along with using all the adjectives above. “Thoroughly miserable, and wondering WHY this could be happening to me. What could have brought this on?” I really could not put my finger on it as I did not seem to be doing anything out of the norm.

My next experience occurred while I was driving -in traffic! I hurriedly pulled over to the curb howling at the top of my lungs, with tears in my eyes as I struggled to work my foot. After a few minutes (seemed like a lifetime), I was back to my normal self aside for the dull ache in my calf and foot.

What could be going on? I had no idea of the causes of severe leg cramps or what to do about them.

I decided to pay a visit to my doctor.

My doctor allayed my fears that the world was not actually coming to an end – not just yet anyway. I heaved a sigh of relief! She explained that these cramps in aging adults (if not brought on by overstraining of muscles during exercise) could be brought about by electrolyte imbalance and certain vitamin and mineral deficiencies.

She urged me to be more nutritionally conscious, and I set my sights on a diet with a variety of fruits and vegetables believing that I would never suffer from those cramps again.

Sadly, I was wrong! My next episode occurred while sleeping at night. I never knew that there could be causes of severe leg cramps at night. This was the most horrible experience of all time!

Fellow sufferers understand what I mean. My screams must have surely woken up the neighbors and I cannot say that I was apologetic about it since I was in so much pain. This could not be a consequence of aging…….or could it?

What is the Best Treatment for Leg Cramps? – What I Did Wrong

As fellow sufferers know, when you mention your predicament to friends and family, they tend to dump volumes of “helpful” treatment tips on you. These include natural remedies and the conventional use of supplements. Getting all these varied responses to my simple question of “what is the best treatment for leg cramps?” was frustrating.

Eventually, I got so inundated with these tips that I decided to sweep them all aside and conduct some research myself.

While friends and family are only trying to help you, the sooner you swing into action yourself to first better understand the causes, the sooner you will no longer grope in the dark as you experiment with remedies and treatments. For clarity, many of these work, but they will only provide the necessary relief if used for the right cause.

Several of these episodes later, over the course of a few years, and with on-and-off temporary respite, I finally launched into action, gingered on by some friends who were also seeking answers since different things seemed to provide temporary relief for each of us.

Armed with my very strong academic background in science, I started my research – on Metamorphosis Hub to the thrill of fellow suffering friends!

Facts: 1-6

The facts discovered were a shocker to me, BUT, they really helped put things things in perspective. Six of these facts are discussed in this section, while the other two – Non-Medical Causes of Leg Cramps, and Medical Conditions that Can Cause Leg Cramps are discussed separately

FACT1. Aging causes a natural shortening of tendons (tissues connecting muscles to bones) and result in leg muscle cramps. It is estimated that about 75% of leg cramps occur at bedtime or during the night and can disturb the sleep pattern.

FACT 2. Statistics indicate that most adults above the age of 50 will experience leg cramps at least once.

FACT 3. Adults over 60 years of age are 33% more likely to have a leg cramp at night at least once every two months (Rodriguez 2020).

FACT 4. Solutions that work for one individual may not work for someone else. The reason is simple – the causes may differ.

FACT 5. It is unhelpful if you do not know what to do while you are in the episode of a cramp as this will continue to prolong the pain. Lying down or sitting down alone will not necessarily provide any relief.

FACT 6. Some leg cramps may occur for no known reason. Such cramps are called “idiopathic cramps”. Wow!

Fact 7. Non-Medical Causes of Leg Cramps

These include lifestyle factors, dehydration, electrolyte imbalance and use of medication triggers

Lifestyle

Stress, muscle fatigue from high-intensity exercise or overusing certain muscles, alcoholism, or sitting for long periods of time can cause cramps.

Dehydration

Aging predisposes seniors more to dehydration as they tend to forget to drink water.

Electrolyte Imbalance

The electrolytes calcium, potassium and magnesium may be lost during intense muscle use and dehydration through perspiration. This explains where the use of these supplements are born from.

Medications

Certain medications for treating conditions such as Heart disease, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, Cholesterol and Hypertension have been known to trigger cramping in seniors.

Fact 8. Medical Conditions that Can Cause Leg Cramps

The side effects of several medical conditions can also cause cramping in the legs. I found this quite interesting. They include the following

  • Diabetes
  • Feet abnormalities such as flat feet
  • Heart conditions caused by blood clots or diseased blood vessels.
  • Kidney failure
  • Low potassium blood levels
  • Nerve damage due to chemotherapy used for cancer treatment
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Peripheral artery disease
  • Progressive neuromuscular disease and
  • Scarring of the liver (cirrhosis)

So What is the Best Treatment for Leg Cramps? – WAR!

Yes! Although this sounds extreme and funny, the best treatment for leg cramps is for you to embark on an all-out-war to IDENTIFY THE ROOT CAUSE or CAUSES – and you cannot do this alone without the assistance of your healthcare professional if you really want to tackle those pesky cramps!.

They will check that there are no contributing medical conditions or medications involved and can also guide you to identify non medical causes. It is a painstaking exercise, but sadly, with this predicament, most of us are looking for quick fix solutions – and rightly so! Only a fellow sufferer can understand why you want to do this.

If you are lazy about doing this exercise, there is no doubt that you will only continue to get some temporary relief from these episodes. Dehydration appears to be a common cause in seniors, so it is helpful to begin with getting your 8 glasses of water (or as close to it as you can) each day while you try to identify your triggers.

You may be pleasantly surprised to find that this can reduce the frequency of your episodes.

From experience and in discussion with other sufferers, excluding medical conditions, you will find that that in many cases, there are a combination of lifestyle and other non-medical causes that may contribute to your leg cramps. Consequently, you will require a combination of solutions. This is why you usually have varied results.

My Story and The Best Treatment for Leg Cramps

In the quest for relief, I have tried several solutions and products for leg cramps, including some natural remedies, on this site with varied results. With the benefit of hindsight, that was to be expected – since I did not identify the true root cause of my leg cramps! Keep in mind that my causes may not be the same as yours, so I will only mention them here briefly.

They included, dehydration due to aging, sedentary lifestyle, and drinking 4-5 cups of coffee a day. Increasing my water intake made a huge difference in the frequency and duration of these cramps.

Once I made changes to my sedentary lifestyle which was causing poor circulation in my legs, and my coffee drinking habit, these cramps slowly became history. Sadly, it is impossible to eliminate the aging factor.

Certain products I continue to use include my knee pillow since I am a side sleeper (plus it helps alignment of my spine keeping back pain in check) and my compression socks.

Leave a comment if you liked this article or have your own experience to share.

Conclusion – What is the Best Treatment for Leg Cramps?

In my humble opinion, the #1 best treatment for leg cramps is to “take the bull by its horns”, meaning all-out-war to fish out your causes of severe leg cramps at night and other unexpected times.

Consult your healthcare provider. Drink lots of water – which unfortunately will make you a frequent visitor to the restroom, but take that over those excruciating cramps, while you try to uncover your triggers.

Thankfully, some gentle stretches and topicals can provide some temporary relief as well. There are several helpful articles on this site to help you along the way. A few of them are listed below.

Do leave a comment if you liked this article, and also to let us know about your journey. Good luck!

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FAQ

What are the common causes of severe leg cramps?

Severe leg cramps can be caused by dehydration, electrolyte imbalances, muscle overuse, prolonged sitting, poor blood circulation, or medical conditions like diabetes and nerve disorders. Stretching, staying hydrated, and maintaining electrolyte balance can help prevent them.

What are the causes of severe leg cramps at night?

Nighttime leg cramps can be caused by dehydration, electrolyte imbalances, prolonged inactivity, or medical conditions like diabetes or peripheral artery disease. Preventive measures include stretching before bed and staying well-hydrated.

References

O’Brien, S. M. (2015) Overcoming nocturnal leg cramps https://www.clinicaladvisor.com/home/the-waiting-room/overcoming-nocturnal-leg-cramps/

Hubert M, et al. (2016) Prevalence of cramps in patients over the age of 60 in primary care : a cross sectional study. National Library for Medicine. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4983045/

Cleveland Clinic (2023) Leg Cramps. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/14170-leg-cramps

Rodriguez J. (2020) Leg Cramps in Elderly Adults Griswold Home Care

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