Nightly leg pain

Nightly Leg Pain, Nightly leg Muscle Cramps Causes and Treatment

In this article, we will be looking for Causes, Remedies, and treatments for Nightly leg muscle cramps or pain. This is a fairly common condition among the young and old populations. let’s have a look.

What is a Leg Muscle Cramp?

Leg Cramps simply mean when the muscle of your legs contracts hardly.
It is characterized by the inability of a person to move their legs as it causes intense pain moving.

The deficiency of Magnesium may also cause Muscle Cramps. Spasm or contractions occurs at night when legs are bent and feet are directed downwards.

Leg Cramp

Nightly Leg Pain

Leg pain/cramps mainly affect the Calf Muscles (muscle present at the back of the lower leg from knee to foot). 

Other muscles which are affected by Leg cramps include the Quadriceps  (muscles present at the front of the thigh) and Hamstrings (muscles present at the back of the thigh). 

Nightly leg pain is so painful that it can awaken a person from sleep hence disturbing their sleep cycle too. Pain feels like a knot in your legs.  This leg pain may be a warning sign of many disorders.


Why do Leg Muscle Cramps occur at Night?

At night there is a decrease in blood flow throughout the body due to restricted movements of the legs so there is a high chance of contraction of leg muscles at night.

What are the causes of Nightly Leg Muscle Cramps and Night Leg Pain?

The main cause of Night Leg Muscle Cramps includes weakening of the muscle fibers, this weakness contracts the muscles even more and it can result in Leg Muscle Cramp.


Other causes of Nightly Leg Muscle Cramps 


With Progressing age, Tendons (tissue that connects muscle to bones) shortens and have a high risk of having Night Leg Muscle Cramp due to excessive stretching of muscles.
Pregnant women carry a high risk of having Night Leg Muscle Cramp (weight contracts and fatigue the leg muscles)


Anatomical disorders:

  • Narrowing of the spinal canal in the spinal cord results in compression of nerves passing through it this condition is called Spinal Stenosis. Nerve compression results in overactivity of muscles therefore easy fatiguability and hence cramps.
  • Narrowing of the arteries leads to a reduced blood supply to the legs and results in leg muscle cramps with pain. This condition is called Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD).


Sedentary lifestyle

  • Remaining seated for indefinitely long periods increases the risk of leg muscle cramps.

Sedentary lifestyle

Too Much Exercise

  • Too much exercise can also result in Muscle fatigue and Cramps because of lactic acid buildup
  • It is worth considering that excessive sweating decreases the volume of fluid hence the blood, resulting in reduced blood flow to the muscle.
  • This decreased blood flow to the muscles also slows down the clearance of lactic acid from the muscles and allows its buildup.

Leg exercise

Standing for a longer duration can also result in Night Leg Muscle Cramps.

  • Muscle Fatigue
  • Decrease Oxygen-Rich blood flow



  • Diuretics (increases the flow of urine)
  • Statins (decrease Cholesterol)
  • Oral Contraceptive Pills

Medication tablets capsule

Metabolic disorders: 

  • Diabetes
  • Anemia
  • Renal Failure
  • Cirrhosis (fibrosis of the liver)
  • Thyroid disorders


Other conditions

  • Osteoarthritis (a condition that results in a tear of the bone cartilage).
  • Dehydration and Diarrhoea
  • Neurological disorders like Parkinson’s disease.


Treatment of Nightly Leg Muscle Cramps

  • Drink plenty of water before bed as it will reduce the chance of Muscle Cramps.
  • Massage the cramped leg gently with your hand. Massaging relaxes the contracted muscle and gives relief from Night Leg Muscle Cramps.
  • Exercise and stretching (Hamstrings and Calf muscles stretching) are proved to be effective in reducing the Nightly Leg Muscle Cramp Pain.
  • You can try eating bananas before sleeping, this will keep your electrolytes (Potassium and magnesium) balanced.
  • Try to walk on the heels of the foot. This will help in relaxing the calf muscles.
  • Apply a hot water bag to the cramped muscle or take a hot water bath. Heat therapy improves blood circulation and increases the flexibility of the leg muscles. 
  • People with a flat fleet should change their footwear as it may cause Plantar Fasciitis (inflammation of the tissue present at the bottom of the feet) too.

Leg Massage, Physiotherapy

If you have intense pain at night due to Muscle Cramps you can take painkillers like Naproxen, etc. and if  Leg cramps are interfering with your sleep cycle then fix an appointment with your doctor.


Know more about the test which can assess the clot formation in the vessels of the leg leading to leg pain

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