It should be concerning. The medical community has proven that nighttime leg cramps increase with age. In fact, most non athletic adults will experience their first nighttime leg cramp around age 50. While these horrible experiences can be unbearable, they are manageable.
What are Nighttime Leg Cramps?
A foot and leg cramp episode may go something like this. You’re in a deep and restful slumber and all of a sudden horrible pain strikes one of your calf muscles causing an immediate reaction to Just. Stop. The. Pain.
It’s an involuntary response in our bodies, no one would ever choose to move a certain way in bed to set one of these horrible experiences in motion. When afflicted with a nighttime leg cramp it’s not only apparent from the lightning fast onset of unbearable pain, but one can almost always see the spasm happening to the muscle just under the skin.
As our team reported in this article, the main causes are unknown however, they are more prevalent in our golden years. With 1/3 of all people over age 60 afflicted with nighttime leg cramps. While they can singularly affect your foot, ankle, calf or thigh, they can also affect the entire leg as a whole. The most common leg cramp in bed happens in the calf region making it nearly impossible to find relief by just allowing the leg cramp to pass.
Unspoken Causes of Nighttime Leg Cramps
For starters, if you’re over 50 you’re most likely not suffering from leg cramps from pregnancy. There are other causes and societal issues such as alcoholism that will play a role in ensuring electrolyte deficiencies that result in long term nocturnal leg cramps, particularly the leg cramps in bed at night. If that is what is causing you to go in search of this article for relief we encourage you to seek medical attention for the addiction and not simply cure your nighttime leg cramps as a stand-alone symptom.
It’s nearly unheard of to be at or near our 50’s and not have been on some kind of long term medication. Here’s a staggering statistic. According to the CDC there were 2.6billion drugs ordered during 75% of all physician office visits across the country for all ages in 2010. It’s clear that we have a rise of prescribed medication and we see evidence of this everyday on television with ads that list all the wonderful reasons to take a specific medication and quickly tell you how might bleed from your eyes, ears and go into rapid liver failure with daily use.
A common side effect of a lot of meds prescribed in our older years, is nighttime leg cramps. AARP reported on the many different medications that cause leg pain while sleeping which spills over into nighttime leg cramps. Among those are several different classes of diuretics which makes complete sense as we already know that dehydration, among several other things will cause cramps in the legs at night.
Also on that list were some that were surprising. There’s a strong possibility if you’re over age 55 that one of your daily medications controls your blood pressure. In fact, 90% of all Americans have been told they have or have had high blood pressure at some point in their lives.
Beta-blockers that are used to treat high blood pressure and irregular heartbeats also are a known nocturnal leg cramp culprit. This isn’t uncommon for older people that take these medications, however, there’s no known reason why it happens.
Another common type of medication that is prescribed in our golden years treats high cholesterol and the buildup of plaque in our arteries. Statins also lessen the inflammatory response in our bodies and reduce the risk of heart attack in stroke. There are so many people on statins today, there’s even a debate going on where or not statins should be automatically prescribed in our 40’s and whether everyone should be on them.
Statins however, suppress muscle growth. So as you might be getting in that extra bit of weight training to help protect your bones, the statin can be working against you. How does this cause nighttime leg cramps you ask? They deplete muscle energy and the system that transports all the electrical impulses through the body.
Foot and leg cramps become extremely more prevalent at night with medications to treat other symptoms of other issues. Before you know it, you’re taking a medication for the side effect of another medication and the chain goes on. To read the full list of medications AARP discussed in the article, click here.
If you’re getting up there in years getting enough exercise and living an active lifestyle will help ward off those irritating foot and leg cramps at night. Simple stretches everyday will help, keeping those muscles in your legs flowing with blood and oxygen while elongated for 10-15 seconds will help a lot. Which leads us to the other unspoken reason we may have experienced leg cramps in bed causing you to search for a cure.
Depression isn’t a direct link to being a cause for nighttime leg cramps, but it does have a response on the melatonin and serotonin levels in your brain. Without having the proper amounts of fluids in your body, again we go back to looking at the electronic response in your system. Without the proper amount of electrolytes balancing those electronic impulses, we might not feel up to moving at all, which keeps our older generations in a sedentary state, with little to no desire for activity at all.
What Can You Do?
Start by reading our article on nighttime leg cramps that gives the #1 Top Tip as a perfect solution while providing a long term cure! Recovery e21 is our all organic, full spectrum electrolyte supplement is the best cure available on the market today and won’t interfere with your current daily medications.
Next, drink plenty of fluids and perhaps seek out a yoga class specifically for seniors. Getting those muscles stretched and keeping them strong is a great first step in taking personal action to cure your own nighttime leg cramps. Especially when giving up those daily medications isn’t an option. This will be great for your mind AND your body!
Oh and as a side note. While researching cures for this article I came across a guy that gave this bit of advice in curing nighttime leg cramps instantly. It’s almost hard not to chuckle as I write it all out for you.
He says to “Pinch your upper lip for 20-30 seconds you can make your leg cramp stop.” Really?!?! I don’t’ know about you but when I’m in the middle of a charley horse that makes my calf explode I’m not thinking about pinching my upper lip!! But it’s probably worth a try.