This question was answered on Fri 29, Aug 2008 06:29am by Dr Bhupinder K, MD

Severe and acute leg cramps while sleeping

Asked by Unregistered (Male; 54; USA; Diabetic; Relevant drugs:Neuronton, glyburide, metephormin, atenolol, lisinopril, simvastatin, etodolac, allopurinol, ) on Tue 19, Aug 2008 01:32pm

My husband is 54 years old. He is 6'4" and 240. He is diabetic, he has high blood pressure. He works on his feet all day. Sometimes at night he has acute leg cramps that start in his feet and can go to the knee area or even to his groin. The pain is excrutiating and wakes him and he has to jump to his feet and walk arround for 10 to 15 minutes to get relief. He might go two weeks with no episodes and then have 5 or 6 episodes in one night. We have tried altering his diet and increasing fluids to be more proactive. But sometimes it just doesn't matter what we do.

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Answer by Dr Bhupinder K, MD  on Fri 29, Aug 2008 06:29am:

Hello, Some of the important causes of leg cramps are overextension of the muscles,overweight,prolonged standing during the day,dehydration, alterations in the balance of salts in the bloodstream (such as a high or low sodium or potassium level),neuropathy(esp in diabetes),hypothyroidism,peripheral vascular disease(narrowing of the leg arteries which causes poor circulation),sarcoidosis,excess alcohol,nerve compression, and sometimes liver disease. Some of these causes like dehydration,being overweight,alcohol intake and prolonged standing are modifiable by efforts of the patient. Stretching and massaging the affected muscle (usually a calf muscle) can usually relieve an attack of cramp. A painkiller such as paracetamol may help to ease muscle discomfort and tenderness that sometimes persists for up to 24 hours after a cramp has gone. My advise is to consult a physician and rule out the above medical conditions by thorough investigations as without physical examination and investigations, pinpointing a diagnosis is tough. Hope it helps. Take care and pls do keep us posted if you want any more information.

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Comment by john on Sat 23, Oct 2010 08:35am:
I have had numerous and frequent abdominal, thigh, leg and foot cramps since 1982. My doctor could not seem to identify the cause but as a trial he wrote a prescription for nitroglycerin 0.4mg tablets. When the cramping starts, I take one tablet place it under the tongue and in about 8-15 minutes the cramping stops. He explained it this way. Nitroglycerin is mainly used to treat angina. Defined as follows. Angina (angina pectoris - Latin for squeezing of the chest) is chest discomfort that occurs when there is a decreased blood oxygen supply to an area of the heart muscle. In most cases, the lack of blood supply is due to a narrowing of the coronary arteries as a result of arteriosclerosis. Other muscles can cramp because of diminished blood flow as well. What Nitroglycerin does - is cause the blood vessels to dilate which allows more blood to flow to the muscle tissue, hence more oxygen to the muscle. The result is - ending the cramping episode. It is now 2010 and I keep a bottle of Nitroglycerin at my bed side to this day. It does work! Ask your doctor if this may work for you as well.

Comment by Robert on Fri 24, Dec 2010 08:17am:
I am 64, physically active and suffer severe cramps in my legs, feet and groin (of late). It seems to be getting worse. However, I find I often do not have enough fluid intake in winter. But the main cure (within minutes) is a salt shaker. If a cramp occurs I place a few shakes of salt in my palm and chuck it my mouth. I do not swallow it but let it absorb through my tongue and throat. It is a very low dose so will not cause hypertension problems. I do have slightly high BP and it has had no adverse effect. The cramps will be gone in minutes and I rest happily the remainder of the night.

Comment by on Fri 24, Dec 2010 08:23am:
thanks Robert for sharing your experiences

Comment by on Mon 14, Mar 2011 06:29am:
Nighttime leg cramps have no real cause and are simply a painful nuisance. There are times when these cramps may be associated with other conditions or disorders that may need treatment.

Comment by Charlotte on Sun 08, Jul 2012 11:38am:
i have cramps in my ankle and down my foot. Also have a severe pain in my groin when putting pressure on the inside of my heal or foot

Comment by Ruth on Sat 16, Feb 2013 12:24am:
I have been helped by drinking tonic water (quinine)', either regular or sugar free. You can get it in little cans or bottles and keep it by your bed.

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