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What are the Most Common Causes of Night Leg Pain?

A. Pasbjerg
By
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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There are a variety of issues that commonly cause night leg pain. Muscle cramps can be the result of hormonal changes, nutrient deficiencies, or dehydration. Restless leg syndrome, or RLS, can cause discomfort or pain when a person is resting, so it is frequently an issue at bedtime. Certain diseases such as fibromyalgia are known to often cause pain in the legs at night. Some other possible causes include diabetic neuropathy, blood clots in the legs, or just simple overuse of the legs.

One of the most common causes of night leg pain is cramping of the muscles in the thighs or calves, sometimes called a Charley horse. People may experience these types of cramps for a variety of reasons. Dehydration may cause the muscles to seize up, or the cramps may be caused by a lack of potassium, magnesium, or calcium in the diet. Hormone fluctuations can also be to blame; pregnant women often suffer from them, particularly in the second trimester, as do women who are menstruating. Pain in the legs at night can also be a side effect of some types of medication.

Restless leg syndrome can also cause leg pain at night. This is a condition where a patient may feel a variety of sensations, including aching, cramping, or burning in his or her legs. Since moving the legs relieves these feelings, patients often suffer most during the night while lying down.

Night leg pain can also often be the result of various diseases or disorders. Fibromyalgia, a condition characterized by chronic pain, stiffness, and sensitivity to pressure, may be to blame. Patients with Addison’s disease, which causes adrenal insufficiency, and Parkinson’s disease, which affects the central nervous system, sometimes feel leg pain at night. Arthritis and Plica syndrome can lead to pain in and around the knees.

Various other problems can also commonly lead to night leg pain as well. Patients with diabetes may experience pain at night due to diabetic neuropathy, or nerve damage in their legs. People who’ve recently had issues such as heart attack or stroke may develop painful clots in their legs, known as deep vein thrombosis. Injuries to the cartilage, ligaments, or tendons that support the knees may be more painful at bedtime. Sometimes leg pain is simply the result of overuse, such as from strenuous exercise or standing for extended periods of time.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
A. Pasbjerg
By A. Pasbjerg
Andrea Pasbjerg, a The Health Board contributor, holds an MBA from West Chester University of Pennsylvania. Her business background helps her to create content that is both informative and practical, providing readers with valuable insights and strategies for success in the business world.
Discussion Comments
By burcidi — On Mar 29, 2013

I used to get cramps in my calves at night all the time. I still remember how painful they were. Ever since I added a multivitamin supplement to my diet, I haven't been getting them.

By serenesurface — On Mar 28, 2013

@turkay1-- It's true that children can experience knee and leg pain at night due to growing because bones often grow at night. But I think that pain usually occurs during growth spurts and not persistently for years.

I think you should see a different doctor and try to get to the bottom of it. It could be fibromyalgia or another pain disorder.

You might also want to review your diet to make sure that you're getting enough hydration and vitamins and minerals.

By candyquilt — On Mar 28, 2013
I've been experiencing both upper and lower leg pain at night time for at least five years. I'm in college now. My doctor always tells me that it's growing pains but I've stopped growing for the most part and I don't think it could be that.

Has anyone experienced these growing pains before?

A. Pasbjerg
A. Pasbjerg
Andrea Pasbjerg, a The Health Board contributor, holds an MBA from West Chester University of Pennsylvania. Her business background helps her to create content that is both informative and practical, providing readers with valuable insights and strategies for success in the business world.
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