Easy Steps to Manage Nocturnal Leg Cramps

Night time is meant for sleeping, which is a very important to every individual’s overall health and well-being. Sleeping is the ideal time for the body to repair cells that are often damaged by metabolic wastes. It also helps recharge the fuel that the brain burned or consumed during the all-day activity. But let’s admit it that not all people today can experience a good night sleep. Some are perhaps too busy in their work while others may be suffering from severe health condition that’s why their sleeping habits are the ones being compromised.

Let me share to you one of my clients who often have an interrupted night sleep. Her name was Jaimee and she’s 65 years of age. Just last week, I was assigned as her nursing assistant. Jaimee is still energetic compared to other residents who are also at her age. In fact, she can still perform her activities of daily living by herself so my main responsibility is just to supervise her to prevent potential accidents and injuries. But if there’s one thing Jaimee would always complain, that is the leg pain that suddenly makes her sleepless. Jaime has never incurred injuries for the past days so I am pretty sure that the ache she’s currently feeling has nothing to do with fractures. I conclude that what she is suffering right now is leg spasm or the sudden, involuntary contraction of muscles in her legs. So the moment she told me about the condition of her legs, I offer a therapeutic massage with my hope that this will help relieve the ache. Fortunately, it helped.

The next day, I asked Jaimee how’s her legs and she quickly replied, “They’re better now.” So when she told me about that, I was hoping that she will no longer experience the same pain on the following days. But I was disappointed because 3 days after Jaimee told me that her legs are already ok, she’s here again telling me the leg discomfort. And by this time she said the pain get worse and moving her legs is now more difficult. Thinking that that it’s only muscle spasm, I did the same first aid but sad to say, it didn’t help relieve the pain and the muscles remained in a contracted position. The legs are really hard, almost like concrete, and I can see in her facial expression the intensity of the pain. After failing in my first aid, which includes applying hot compress and then massaging the cramped muscles, I immediately ask assistance from my co-workers so I can bring Jaimee to someone who knows better in medicine at the same time is equipped with the right medical instruments for diagnosing. After the doctor’s thorough examination on Jaimee’s condition, here comes the physician’s findings. There it was stated that Jaimee is suffering a nocturnal leg cramps.

Up to now, healthcare professionals (who often come stethoscopes hanging on their neck) don’t know the exact cause yet for such condition. But some studies claim that leg cramps are a result of increased electrical activity in the affected muscles. Others associate nocturnal leg cramps to dehydration as well as potassium deficiency. Whether or not these studies are true, the good news is nocturnal leg cramps are preventable.

Anyone can experience nocturnal leg cramps. So here are some tips on how to prevent it from happening:
  • Drink plenty of water. Being dehydrated is one probable reason why people suffer from leg cramps. Therefore, drinking enough glasses of water every day will keep your body hydrated. It will also help balance your electrolyte.
  • Eat foods rich in vitamins and minerals especially those that are high in potassium, calcium, and manganese.
  • Stretch regularly, especially the calf muscles. Sitting down often at work provides your calf an abnormal nerve activity, which then leads to leg cramps. So to prevent this from happening, stretch your calf muscles once in a while.
  • Massage your leg muscles at night to loosen them. Massaging is one way of telling the muscles to relax. And if you take a shower, make sure it’s a hot shower or warm bath.
  • Avoid too much alcohol, caffeine, and high-sodium diet because they can make your body lose more fluid, which then bring you to dehydration.
  • Do not overstress your muscles. Getting too much exercise can overstress your leg nerves and make them muscles cramp. 

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