Leg cramps refers to painful involuntary contractions of the leg muscle, which may or mayn’t be linked to an underlying disorder.
Painful and involuntary contractions of the leg muscle leads to muscle cramps:
Leg cramps is also described as muscle cramps and night cramps. Though there may not be any serious health concerns, leg cramps may have a crippling effect on your movement and activity. Generally, long periods of exercise and physical labor in hot weather conditions may lead to muscle or leg cramps.
Muscle cramps of the leg may occur due to dehydration and muscle strain. The underlying condition for muscle cramps is the inadequate blood supply to the muscles of leg and feet region following mild to rigorous exercise. Cramps stop once you stop the exercise.
Compression of nerves in the spine (lumbar stenosis) may also produce cramps in the legs. During hot and dry weather conditions you may experience muscle cramps. This is due to dehydration which depletes the body of minerals like potassium, calcium and magnesium. People who take diuretics, used in the treatment of high blood pressure also experience depletion of minerals.
The symptoms of muscle cramps especially of the leg region may cause mild to severe pain. There may be swelling and redness of the skin. This condition is marked by muscle weakness and general fatigue.
Risks & Complications:
In general, older people are at greater risk of muscle cramps. As they lose muscle mass, they experience greater muscle cramps. Pregnant women, and those with conditions of diabetes, nerve, liver or thyroid disorders also experience muscle cramps.
Tests & Diagnosis:
There are no specific tests or diagnostic methods to assess muscle cramps. Severe cramps may be associated with soreness and swelling. The affected muscle may bulge, turn very firm or become tender.
The doctor or physio may look for the symptoms of muscle cramps. The regular course of treatment includes, giving some respite to the aching muscle or leg, and doing some stretching exercises to relax the affected muscles. Minerals and multi-vitamins are prescribed by some doctors as part of the treatment for muscle cramps.