Leg cramps are a common and usually harmless condition where the muscles in your leg suddenly become tight and painful. It usually occurs in the calf muscles, although it can affect any part of your leg, including your feet and thighs. After the cramping has passed, you may have pain and tenderness in your leg for several hours. Three out of four cases occur at night during sleep.
Read more about the symptoms of leg cramps.
What causes leg cramps?
Leg cramps can occur for no apparent reason, known as idiopathic leg cramps, or as a symptom or complication of a health condition, known as secondary leg cramps. Causes of secondary leg cramps can include:
certain types of medication, such asstatins (medicines that help lower cholesterol levels) liver disease
During a cramp, your muscles suddenly contract (shorten), causing pain in your leg. This is known as a spasm, and you cannot control the affected muscle. The cramp can last from a few seconds to 10 minutes. When the spasm passes, you will be able to control the affected muscle again. Read more about the causes of leg cramps.
When to see your GP
Speak to your GP if your leg cramps are affecting your quality of life; for example, if you have frequent leg cramps or they are interfering with your sleep. Your GP will ask about your symptoms and examine your legs and feet. They may also ask if you have other symptoms, such as numbness or swelling, which may be a sign that you have secondary leg cramps caused by an underlying condition. In this case, you may need further tests, such as blood tests and urine tests, to rule out other conditions. Treating leg cramps
Most cases of leg cramps can be relieved by exercising the affected muscles. Exercising your legs during the day will often help reduce how often you get cramping episodes. Stretches
To stretch your calf muscles, stand with the front half of your feet on a step, with your heels hanging off the edge. Slowly lower your...