Muscle cramps are referred as sudden, unexpected painful contractions, sometimes tightening of muscles that would last for a few seconds. These involuntary contractions also called as Charley horse occur often at nights in muscles of the calf.

These sudden spasms are generally harmless and can be easily treated at home.

Causes:

Long hours of exercise, working under hot weather can cause muscle cramps. Staying put for longer hours in the same position, dehydration are the other common reasons behind muscle cramps.

Inadequate Blood Supply: If you feel muscle cramps while exercising, it could be due to narrowing of the arteries. It usually goes away once you stop working out.

Nerve Compression: Lumbar stenosis or nerve compression in the spine can produce pain and cramps in legs. It may get aggravated while walking. Talk to your physiotherapist for treatment.

Mineral Depletion: If you are on diuretics, you may be left with a very little magnesium, calcium and potassium in the body. Depletion of minerals can cause sudden cramps.

Old Age: Elderly people are more at the risk of muscle cramps as they don’t have enough muscle mass and it can cause extra pressure on the remaining muscle.

Medical Conditions: Those suffering from thyroid, liver conditions and diabetics are at the increased risk of medical conditions. 

When You Should See A Doctor:

See a doctor, if muscle cramps doesn’t disappear on their own, cause leg swelling, rash and is associated with muscle weakness.

Prevention:

Guzzle down lots of water to avoid dehydration. Fluids help in contracting muscles, keep muscle cells hydrated and less irritable.

If you suffer from cramps at night, don’t panic. Slowly stretch your legs. Riding stationary cycle just before going to bed may also help in preventing muscle cramps.