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What To Do For Leg Cramps

What causes muscle cramps?

A muscle cramp is a strong, painful contraction or tightening of a muscle that comes on suddenly and lasts anywhere from a few seconds to calf pain several minutes. Leg and foot cramps may have many different causes. Let’s discuss some of the main causes because it has been a frequent patient question for the foot doctors at Family Foot & Ankle Centers.

  • Dietary deficiency- Specifically minerals such as Potassium, Calcium and Magnesium.
  • Dehydration- Not drinking enough water daily.
  • Overuse of specific muscles- certain foot problems or worn shoes can contribute to this.
  • Medications such as diuretics, statins and steroids
  • Certain medical conditions such as kidney disease, thyroid disease and peripheral artery disease.
  • Sometimes they’re simply the result of your feet and legs being tired.

How to stop a muscle cramp

  • Stretch the calf muscle by straightening the leg and pulling your foot toward you. Try walking it off if possible.
  • Massage the muscle with your hand and apply heat with a heating pad or warm shower/bath.
  • Take off your shoes or socks, or anything else that might be constricting your foot or leg.

Do some simple stretches: a) flex your toes up and down or b) grab your toes and pull them towards you as far as you can, hold them a moment, then repeat until you feel the cramp passing.

How can you avoid muscle cramps?

  • Drink plenty of fluids or sports drinks, such as Gatorade, provide hydration and electrolytes.
  • Limit drinks with alcohol or caffeine. These can make you dehydrated.
  • Take a multivitamin supplement daily to insure you are getting the nutrients necessary for correct muscle function.
  • If you suffer from night cramps, stretch your calf muscles before going to bed.
  • If you are taking medicines that are known to cause leg cramps, ask your podiatrist if there may be a different medication to prescribe. Do not just stop taking the medication.

Persistent leg or foot cramps may be a sign that there is something else going on in your body, such as poor leg circulation. If you keep on having cramps, you should see a foot doctor. Dr. Petty performs a simple in-office test to check circulation in the legs and feet.

The information provided in this article is not meant to be medical advice and is for educational purposes only. If you would like to learn more about topics related to podiatry, feel free to contact Family Foot & Ankle Centers by clicking here or calling 972-597-4132 to reach our Waxahachie office, 903-872-9910 to reach our Corsicana office, or 972-875-3668 to reach our Ennis office.