Leg cramps is a common problem faced by most people. It refers to the pain in the leg muscles which can either be in the calf muscles, in the feet or in the thigh muscles. This becomes more and more common as you age and become old. Pregnant ladies also face increased instances of leg cramps. Sometimes causes of leg cramps cannot be ascertained and such leg cramps are known as idiopathic leg cramps.
Some other times, leg cramps is caused by an underlying situation or disease or activity. Causes for such leg cramps include excessive exercising, fatigue, exertion, low sodium and potassium levels, cirrhosis, dehydration, hypothyroidism, consumption of oral contraceptives, type 2 diabetes and periods, among many other causes. Here are a few ways to treat leg cramps:
Keeping your body hydrated while suffering from cramps is highly important as it helps to balance the fluid content in the body. Dehydration can result in cramps as it results in increased fatigue. Water is therefore very important in treating cramps. Drink atleast 6-8 glasses of water in a day as a prevention. You can also get relief from cramps by immersing your feet in hot water.
If you are suffering from leg cramps in the lower part of your legs around the calf muscles, you can immerse your feet in hot water for about 20-30 minutes. Make sure the water is neither very hot nor warm. It should be sufficiently hot to give relief to your legs.
Leg cramps are induced due to excessive muscle contraction. Stretching increases blood circulation and helps to build up oxygen levels in the muscles. Regular stretching exercises prevents build-up of cramps. Various yoga asanas also help you to relieve leg cramps. If you suffer from leg cramps in the night, you can stretch your body and leg muscles before sleeping.
Some simple exercises include walking on your heels, straightening your leg and lifting your foot and moving your toes back and forth. Massage is effective in relieving muscle fatigue and cramps. It also relieves unwanted gases trapped in muscle and joints. You can prepare a mixture of wintergreen oil with vegetable oil for massaging your cramped muscle. As wintergreen oil contains methyl salicylate, it acts like a painkiller and increases blood circulation in the cramped muscle, thus reducing the cramps.
Vitamin E is helpful in improving blood circulation in the blood vessels. Tropical fruits like kiwi and papaya, grains like wheat, green vegetables like broccoli, spinach and nuts are the good sources of Vitamin E.
Such food should be added to the daily diet if you are suffering from leg cramps often. You may also use olive oil when you prepare food to get optimum Vitamin E.
Heat is a good agent in treating leg cramps. Apply a heating pad in the affected area which helps in relieving pain and swollen muscles. Another way of treating leg cramps is by sleeping with your legs elevated at night.
Most cases of leg cramps is due to blood circulation problem. When you sleep at night, keep your legs elevated and place a couple of pillows under your feet to improve blood circulation levels. This will relieve leg cramps when you wake up in the morning.
Ginger has pain relieving capacity as well as it relaxes muscle contraction. It increase oxygen carrying capacity of blood. You can prepare an infusion of ginger by boiling it with water and honey. You should consume it after meals. Basil has a pain killing capacity due to its component – caffeic acid. You can use basil in tea and consume it after a time interval of three to four hours. Valerin acts as a sedative and an antispasmodic agent.
It contains valepotriates and valeric acid which relaxes muscles and prevents muscle cramps. You can have a teaspoon of it every four hours till pain gets relieved. Since valerin is a sedative, it is advisable to stay at home after consuming it. Camp Bark is a good antispasmodic which gives a relaxing effect on your muscles. It relaxes cramps in the thigh region. You may take one to two teaspoon of camp bark with honey every three hours.
While the easiest way to treat leg cramps is to take painkillers, this is not desirable in the long run as you can develop side effects. It is best to treat leg cramps using home remedies and natural remedies, which come without side effects and are pretty effective in treating leg cramps.