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  • Writer's pictureShruti GOCHHWAL

What Causes Leg Cramps and How to Deal With it?

A leg cramp is a condition which results from the involuntary contraction of muscles. Leg cramps feel like muscle knots, and in some cases, make it difficult for the patient to move. It is a common condition with a majority of adults suffering from it at some point in their life. This percentage increases with age.

Experts suggest that almost 75% of leg cramps occur when a person is asleep. Doctors refer to leg cramps as Charley Horses.

A person suffering from leg cramps

Leg cramps can be very uncomfortable and painful

What are the Causes of Leg Cramps?

Leg cramps can be caused by the following conditions:

Fatigue and Exhaustion

Overworking your leg muscles can cause leg cramps. This includes exercise as well as overall exhaustion. Playing sports, such as football, which strain the legs can also lead to exhaustion of the muscles leading to leg cramps.

Incorrect Exercise Techniques

If exercises such as leg presses and leg extensions are done in a wrong manner, then they can result in leg cramps. It is important to follow the correct technique when doing such exercises. If you are just starting make sure you understand the right way to exercise.


A pregnant woman

Pregnant women often suffer from leg cramps, Credits: Pikist

Leg cramps are common phenomena in pregnant women. During pregnancy, the human body undergoes many changes which can trigger leg cramps. It is believed the overall exhaustion which occurs due to pregnancy is the primary cause of leg cramps in pregnant women.

Medical Conditions

There are various medical conditions which can cause leg cramps. Some of these conditions are rare whereas the others are quite common like type 2 diabetes. Some of the examples are:

  1. Parkinson’s disease

  2. Kidney Failure

  3. Hypothyroidism or Hyperthyroidism

  4. Kidney Failure

  5. Liver Cirrhosis

  6. Alcoholism

No consumption of alcohol symbol

Alcohol use disorder can cause leg cramps, Credits: Wikimedia Commons


The use of certain medications can cause leg cramps. If you have started with some new medications and noticed the appearance of leg cramps then inform your doctor about it.

The following medication classes are known to cause leg cramps:

  1. Diuretics

  2. Birth control pills

  3. Medications for Asthma

  4. Statins

How to Treat Leg Cramps?

There are no medications indicated to be used for leg cramps. Doctors would suggest you do the following home remedies which have shown positive results:


One of the best methods to treat leg cramps is to stretch your muscles. Start by mildly stretching the affected area. The stretch will provide relief and in some cases can immediately rid of the cramp as well.

Be careful as to not perform any jerking muscles.

Identify and Avoid

Some people might be able to identify the activity which is responsible for their leg cramps. Usually, the activities which are identified are specific exercises. If you can identify the activity then be sure to avoid it. You can find out by only performing one particular exercise a day and observing if you suffer from leg cramps after it.

Provide Heat

An electric heating pad

Heating pads are very effective in treating leg cramps, Credits: Wikimedia Commons

Heat can relax a muscle and help deal with the cramp. Use a warm water bottle or a heating pad and apply it to the affected area. This activity will give you a relaxing and soothing feeling. Heating pads are very effective in dealing with leg cramps.

How to Prevent Leg Cramps?

Leg cramps can cause serious discomfort and your goal should be to prevent them. The following activities are helpful in preventing leg cramps:

Regular Exercise

Three women exercising

Exercise builds muscle strength, Credits: Pexels

Exercising regularly is important to maintain muscle health. It will increase your muscle strength and reduce the number of cramps you get.

Maintain a Nutritious Diet

A healthy diet which contains proper nutrients is very important for your overall health. Recent studies have suggested that leg cramps could also occur due to the deficiency of magnesium in the body. However, this requires more research before coming to conclusions. Nevertheless, a nutritious diet will help you in maintaining stronger muscles.

Comfortable Clothing and Footwear

Wearing extremely tight clothes or uncomfortable footwear can contribute to leg cramps. Wear items which are comfortable so that they do not cause any damage.


Leg cramps can be treated effectively with home remedies and the preventive measures mentioned above are also beneficial. As most leg cramps occur during sleep, they can severely hamper our sleep cycle which will have further negative effects.

It is important to address the problem of leg cramps and take action. If you are suffering from leg cramps regularly and the home remedies do not seem to be working then visit a doctor as it could be some other condition.

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