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What Causes Nocturnal Leg Cramps?

By Y. Chen
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Usually people associate leg cramps with the term "charley-horse," which are painful sensations of tightness and tension in the muscles of the leg. There are three primary areas where uncomfortable cramping may occur. These are the calf, the foot, and the thigh. Nocturnal leg cramps are muscle pains that occur during the night when a person is sleeping, causing sleep disturbances that may ultimately ruin a good night's sleep.

Although they may occur simultaneously with other sleep disorders, nocturnal leg cramps do not have a causal link to any known underlying medical disorders. They predominantly affect the elderly and pregnant women, two groups that tend to have relatively poor blood circulation in the limbs. Taking a step further back, nocturnal leg cramps are found in middle-aged and older populations, although they can afflict individuals of any age group.

A reason why a person may get nocturnal leg cramps is because he or she isn't drinking enough water. Water is important for transporting vitamins, minerals, and other substances throughout the body. Hydration is not the same when drinking caffeine or alcohol, since they are diuretics and end up dehydrating a person even further. Muscle needs hydration to function properly; without it cramping is more likely to occur. That is why athletes who do not replenish their water lost from sports and exercise end up with a charley-horse. Likewise, low water intake in an otherwise sedentary person can cause muscles twitches during sleep.

Another reason for nocturnal leg cramps is mineral deficiencies. Low levels of calcium, potassium, and magnesium are cited as causal factors of nocturnal leg cramps. While they can all be found in things we eat, some foods lose mineral levels when processed or refined. For example, nearly 85% of magnesium in grains is lost when finely milled.

Calcium deficiency is also responsible for muscle tremors and twitching at night and may lead to nocturnal leg cramps. However, milk and other dairy products do not make effective calcium replacement sources because of their phosphorus levels. A non-phosphorus containing calcium supplement is possibly the best alternative. Another mineral easily depleted is potassium, which is the most important mineral regarding muscle activity, serving as an electrolyte in the body and helping to balance body fluids. It also plays an essential role in muscle control and acts as a co-factor in muscle building.

To combat nocturnal leg cramps, there are several criteria to check. Make sure that your intake of calcium, potassium, and magnesium are at sufficient levels. Potassium-rich foods in your diet should include bananas, tomatoes, potatoes, broccoli, cantaloupe, and citrus fruits. Also, try to eliminate or reduce caffeine and sugar from your daily regimen. Check that you are properly hydrated by drinking up to the recommended eight glasses of water a day.

Finally, relieving any current discomfort with local massage, movement, or heat may help you avoid nocturnal leg cramps. For massage, rub the site of the tension in a circular rhythm to loosen the muscle tension beneath the skin. Stretch the calf muscles by holding your toes, pulling them up toward your knee and extending the leg straight out. This will exhaust the stretch reflex before you go to bed. If pain persists, apply a heat compress for about 10 minutes or take a warm bath or shower.

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Discussion Comments

By femalefaust — On Oct 15, 2014

I wanted to share my own experiences, only a fraction of which do I have time to do at this time, I'm afraid. Yet it may help.

I have had horribly painful leg and foot cramps over the past few years, a congenital-scoliosis-related arthritis acetabuli vel coxæ that has put my ability to walk in some danger. When I do get exercise, often I then have to face excruciating cramps.

So without further ado:

I have made an excellent balm based on an ancient recipe. It's mostly balm of gilead boiled in olive or linseed oil, with fats that are solid at room temperature to thicken, such as shea or coconut butter, added as it is cooling. Add rosemary and ginger and chamomile and capsicum for starters.

Heat is almost always my quick relief -- throw a wet towel in the microwave. If you are lucky like I often am, you can have someone do it for you when the pain starts to come one strongly, but be careful! Warning! Watch out with heat and heating pads; even seemingly safe amounts of heat can cause burns when applied regularly over long periods of time. Never fall asleep on a heating pad.

Pressure. Sometimes a really tight binding will work. (I will have to try that lip pressure point.) Often I will get a scarf and loop it around my toes so I can pull back on them as hard as possible. I have to keep doing that for a long time or it will start again. Sometimes I have to push instead. Sometimes I am forced to stamp as if I am marching in place, wanting to cry or scream.

Try grounding out at the base of the muscle that is cramping. It's like draining a battery, and I think this is behind why heat and pressure work. Get a copper wire and use a rubber band or electrical tape to affix it to a working faucet. Wrap the other end a couple times (do not fasten or twist) around the base of the muscle that is hurting -- the ankle if its your calf, knee if thigh, and base of toes if top of foot. Now turn on the faucet. The cramping should stop immediately, although it doesn't give as lasting a relief as the balm or heat.

Fresh wormwood, fresh mushrooms, and even cut grass act really quickly when applied topically to the place that is cramping. Standing on grass also helps; I think that has something to do with grounding.

Don't forget to exercise. Get stronger every day. Some days this is all I need; it is only when I don't get enough exercise that they get really bad. Problem is, that's also when exercise hurts. But being alive is the best. Remember that. "use it or .." -- well, I think, best just get to using it.

Also I want to note that yogurt in large quantities appears to keep them at bay. I just learned this, so I will be observing it. If this is not the case I will be back to post errata medicinæ meorum. It may have to do with my personal difficulty digesting milk proteins.

Thank you people! Blessings to you all for taking the time to detail your experiences. They helped and inspired me to further understand how I may heal myself. Thank you again, and thanks to wiseGEEK.

By pslavens — On Sep 06, 2014

I found a permanent cure to leg cramps that is good for you, and tastes good, too. It has proven to be my miracle solution that is also improving my stamina and overall health. I have fought leg cramps for 44 years and have tried everything from supplements to extra salt. Now I drink two cans of nutritional beverages from Vemma. It's the same product that TV celebrity, Dr. Oz, uses every day and recommends it to his patients.

Believe me when I say I've tried everything. I've consumed massive doses of multi-vitamins, calcium, magnesium, potassium, and vitamin C over the years with little effect. The quinine that did work was taken off the market because my doctor says it's linked to blood disorders. She recommended drinking tonic water, but to get the amount I need means downing half a gallon every day and either overloading on sugar or filling my body with unhealthy sugar substitutes. Coconut water is another option, but again, I have to drink gargantuan amounts with no guarantees.

I decided to try the Veema products to improve my health, but I had no idea that they would solve my lifelong problem. One day after a vigorous workout in the garden, I knew that unrelenting leg cramps would soon follow. Nothing happened--no leg cramps. A few days later, I was away from home and forgot to bring my Veema, and shock of shocks, the leg cramps came back with a vengeance! I couldn't believe it, so I tested again. Drink Vemma products--no leg cramps. Don't drink them, and be in hop-around-the-floor, agonizing pain.

By anon965406 — On Aug 11, 2014

While working out, it is always a wise thing to wear products like gripped compression socks as they can really benefit you protect your shins, and enhance overall performance and recovery. Really great tips. Thanks for sharing.

By lactophobe — On Jul 25, 2014

Dairy products in any form - from milk to 0 percent fat yogurt to cheese - will make my legs, especially my calves, ache all night, keeping me awake in agony. (Strangely enough, goat's milk feta cheese does not cause me leg aches).

I discovered by accident that a little coffee will stop the aching, whereas aspirin has no effect on the pain at all.

By anon936693 — On Mar 02, 2014

The only thing which stops leg cramps for me is avoiding milk and dairy foods. If I have them again, the cramps come back. As well as cramps, I start to have these symptoms again: irritability, that charley horse feeling that I can't sit still and have to move, lack of concentration and focus, post nasal drip and sniffing, swollen eyelids and trouble falling asleep/staying asleep. I have been diagnosed with ADHD which goes away when I avoid all dairy, and returns when I eat dairy again.

By gimelgort — On Oct 23, 2012

There is an acupressure remedy for calf cramps which has worked for me in the past. If you can catch the cramp at onset, it is amazing how this just melts it away. As I say, it doesn't always work but it is my first reaction when I feel a cramp coming on and about 80 percent of the time the cramp just melts away. I think that the times it doesn't work are when I am coming out of deep sleep and I don't have enough hand strength right then.

The technique is this: pinch above your upper lip with your thumb and forefinger. Your thumb should be inside your mouth as high up your upper gum as you can get it, and your forefinger will be pressing on the outside, right at the base of your septum. Squeeze as hard as you can, when it works, it works immediately. It doesn't help the underlying cause(s), but most times the cramp and pain will disappear, and right in the moment that's the main thing, isn't it? Sounds a little crazy, I know, but it beats drinking pee, in my book.

By anon289779 — On Sep 05, 2012

My nocturnal cramps strike in the morning just as I'm waking up. The pain itself is astounding beyond description, and it is immediate. Afterward, the muscle is so severely damaged that I am limping for days.

In the past year, I've found that weightlifting with a focus on squats and deadlifting has resulted in a dramatic change; it stopped happening. When it did, after a night out drinking, the pain was reduced, and there was no lasting muscle injury.

It would seem that weightlifting has many good benefits.

By anon279026 — On Jul 10, 2012

Yeah, due to middle age (I'm 36) and coupled with polio muscle weakness, it is unbearable to have these creaking noises from my ankles, and shoulder pain.

Stretching exercises at bedtime are making things worse.

But I keep going with a daily walk and moderate work.

By anon277292 — On Jun 29, 2012

I have just read the article that drinking plenty of water helps with night time leg cramps. The only problem with that remedy is I am up half the night going to the bathroom. Oh! Is that what is for? To get you to walk it off. Aha. --Tony, age 64. Yorkshire

By anon276692 — On Jun 25, 2012

I have leg cramps nightly. I'm 52, am on my feet pretty much all day, exercise, have my evening wine, but also eat well and take multi-vitamins. I'm not one to take any meds. What I found is that if I put knee high compression socks on at bedtime, the cramps don't come. They are not uncomfortable, and I am finally sleeping.

By anon275175 — On Jun 16, 2012

In the middle of the night, the left side of my ankle area began to hurt so bad and I lay there and waited for it to go away. I then tried to rub it and it seemed to last for about two minutes and then it went away. I drink a lot of water and when I was reading. it said to eat a banana and I ate one right away.

I just hope and pray that this does not happen again tonight. I do take some vitamins and the only time I drink milk is when I have a cup of tea and some in my cereal in the morning for breakfast or if I have tea with my neighbor. I try not to eat a lot of red meat. I have lost some weight, which is fine, but my weight goes up and down by a few pounds. I have had to be on an antibiotic cream for sweating, which I have to apply twice daily to the area of which it is needed. I cannot say where this is but I have seen a dermatologist and she prescribed an ointment called Bactroban 2 percent for infection and it seems to be working. I have to go and see her again next week.

I know that I have a bacterial infection but I still do not know if it is viral. I do not understand why I keep getting this pain in my bone on my left ankle. It is a scary situation to wake up and feel this. I do not have a landline to call anyone but I do have a cell phone and if it were to get really bad I guess I would have to dial 911 for an emergency. Thank you all for all of your tips and help.

By anon270206 — On May 21, 2012

I had excruciating leg cramps at night for years, but found that oregano oil stopped it. They come as sort of liquid pellets and are hard to find, but after a week the cramps started to recede and now I rarely feel anything. I think oregano oil is quite strong, so I took a very low dose. --L

By DebraKalynuk — On May 17, 2012

If you have leg pain at night and you take a statin drug, used to control cholesterol, You need to know about statin myopathy. I have been suffering from this for several years and only just got diagnosed properly. I've had this problem since I started taking Crestor, but didn't put the two together.

This is becoming a common problem. A lot of people have an intolerance to statins, and if not recognized, could lead to severe consequences. I used to be very active, and now can barely do the basic things to get through the day. I'm fatigued all the time. I feel like I'm trudging through mud, if I walk any distance at all. There is too much to explain here but if you look up statin myopathy, you will find lots of info.

By anon267255 — On May 09, 2012

I found this site when trying to look for what I've suffered from since I was a young girl. I can remember from like age 3 or so on, I used to get up in the morning and I just couldn't stand or walk. It hurt really bad. I have memories of my mother and doctor trying to get me to stand up and walk.

I can't remember how it stopped or what age I was, and I still don't know what caused it. I'm in my 40s now and I've started to get restless legs at night but not cramps. I find massage helps.

By anon251381 — On Feb 29, 2012

One culprit is too much red wine. Another culprit is using antihistamines such as Benadryl to fall asleep, the diphenhydramines. These two in combination seem particularly bad. Alcohol is really not good for sleep patterns, and if you go four nights without drinking and you will notice the sleep is much deeper. You do not have to go weeks without drinking to realize this, just give up alcohol on school nights (Sunday through Thursday) and you will see the effects. Usually it takes a few days and stopping a few times to realize that alcohol is really not good for hard sleep most of the time.

We are really creatures of habit, so our evening drink is really just habit. At first, you might not like this idea, but try it. You get the best of of a lot of worlds reduced leg cramping, good sleep and a little bit of drinking. Exercise in moderation is helpful for sleeping, but never exercise too late at night or perform extremely strenuous aerobics such as wind sprints. This will also hurt sleep patterns.

By anon237358 — On Dec 28, 2011

I am 59 and have suffered from off and on leg cramps for years. During the last ten years or so, I've been keeping track of diet and medications that I take during the day before I suffer bad leg cramps. I noticed that I got them so badly when I took an Advair inhaler, or medication for my stomach, such as Prilosec or Prevacid. I get them when I take antihistamines, such as Benadryl. I have tested this over and over again and I know that these meds cause my leg cramps, so I do not take them at all any more.

As far as diet goes, coffee indeed causes them, but unfortunately chocolate causes them too. I had a couple of pieces of chocolate cake on Christmas and I had major cramps that night. I'm hoping this will help someone out there.

By anon235068 — On Dec 15, 2011

My toe cramps started in the early 1980's, when I was running track. The doctor couldn't diagnose it. Throughout the past three decades, I couldn't figure out how/why it was happening. A couple of months ago I chewed two packs of sugarless gum over the weekend. Normally, I used to chew a pack a week or sometimes go a few months without chewing it. The following week I was almost crippled because every time my foot landed, it felt like it was going to turn into a charley horse. I was limping for several days and I got real scared. I took my husband's advice, and quit chewing the sugarless gum. I haven't had toe cramps for the past couple of months, but I got one nocturnal foot-arch cramp. Ow!

My toes are a lot more flexible, now, and I can point them without worrying they're going to cramp! But, I can still feel slight tinges of charley horses approaching. I'm still detoxifying. I might still not have seen the correlation of aspartame and toe cramps because I always used to trust the FDA! I wish the FDA was for the people, first, not the companies that bought the presidencies.

By anon183535 — On Jun 05, 2011

Spinal cord problems can be a reason for leg cramps and spasms.

I have leg cramps at night because of a spinal cord injury. One Ibuprofen does the trick. My theory behind it: Any kind of sensation in the leg sends an electrical signal through the nerves trying to get to the brain. With spinal cord injury the signal gets reflected where the spinal cord is damaged and sent back as signal to move or tighten the muscles. Ibuprofen blocks the pain signal from entering the nerve. It doesn't get sent out and thus not sent back.

If this theory is true than pain meds that effect the brain to numb the pain instead of the nerve endings should not work against leg spasms, because the signal still gets sent out and reflected.

By anon181074 — On May 28, 2011

I think #82 posted by "The Investigator" is actually on the right track because I, too, have been monitoring leg cramps and have discovered that I get them at night after drinking milk.

I rarely drink milk but have no milk allergies (I grew up drinking milk every day). I add a bit of milk to tea with no bad effect. However, when I drink larger quantities I have noticed leg cramps! I would love to know the science behind this. After the last episode I decided to Google the correlation between leg cramps and milk and stumbled upon this website.

I like this joint plebeian scientific experiment! Perhaps it will yield some actual results. By the way, the milk I drink is organic. I did cook some steak, possibly the same night. I will monitor "meat factor" more closely as it could possibly involve the grocery store beef.

By anon180984 — On May 28, 2011

I feel your pain! I have been suffering with ankle, shin and calf pains for years. They come when I wake up and are an excruciating way to start the day! I took quinine until I read about heart danger. Recently, I've noticed that the pains usually come with dehydration. If you get up during the night to urinate, drink a glass of water to replace the fluids. Also, I've cut down my use of artificial sweeteners to two servings a day. (Hard for a diabetic, but worth it.) Keeping legs warm and not pointing my toes when I wake up have also helped. It is a great comfort to read so many of your posts. Hope mine helps somebody who is still being tortured. --Pocono Center

By anon180874 — On May 27, 2011

Milk binges. Figured it out during the last Yoo-Hoo and egg nog sales. Whenever I drank two quarts for two or three consecutive days a calf muscle would inevitably lock into full-blown tetany during a middle-of-the-night yawning stretch.

Been afflicted for decades since adolescence, during which I associated the episodes with cold cereal, or Carnation Instant Breakfast, until I finally realized it was milk itself.

By anon179322 — On May 23, 2011

I have had leg cramps since i was 13 years old and now i am almost 26 and they seem to be more frequent. I cannot sleep at night and it hurts during the day. basically, any time i am not up walking or moving it seems to get stiff or just cramp up. I have noticed though, if i keep them warm at night they don't bother me as much. Could someone please tell me what's going on?

By anon178731 — On May 22, 2011

I take 800 to 1000 mg magnesium citrate a day. In my research magnesium oxide is cheaper but more going to the bathroom. I found that after 3500 mg I would start to get sick. They are electrolytes that energize over 300 primary enzymes in the body. Without the magnesium catalyst you stay in a wheelchair or die.

Your muscles love magnesium when you overdo it with cake and milkshakes. Too many bananas and grapes, etc., do not digest into the muscles as well. I learned that when you have a hart attack they inject magnesium into the heart muscle.

When I exercise, I never leave home without a bottle of tablets. I chew them like candy. Oh, and don't forget to pack the toilet paper.

By anon173796 — On May 08, 2011

I started having nocturnal leg cramps when i was in my early teens up to now that i am in the middle age. In my experience the most common cause for my cramps is getting your legs too tired at the same time excessive sweating. I have come to observe this because where i used to work, i have to walk a total of 1.8 kilometers combined from my place to the train station and from where i get off to my workplace and vice-versa, and with the climate in our country which is hot and humid i perspire a lot. This combined strain on my legs and excessive sweating leads to this nocturnal cramps.

When your legs are tired because of too much walking your muscles use up all your electrolytes (specially sodium and potassium) which are also severely depleted when you sweat a lot. I have found out that the most effective and immediate remedy is what was mentioned in the article above wherein you stretch your calf muscle by positioning the affected leg flat and straight on bed and hyperflexing your foot in such a way that your toes are almost pointing towards your head. This is in contrast to when you hyperextend your foot during sleep as in stretching your leg wherein your toes point away from you just like how a ballet dancer tiptoes, which in turn is the most common reason you will develop leg cramps.

Another, more effective way of preventing or treating these cramps is by replacing the lost electrolytes in your body specially your muscles. What i use is a substance known in our country as Oresol or ORS (Oral Rehydration Salt Solution). This is available in any drugstore in my country (Philippines) as this is what is used to treat people suffering from dehydration due to diarrhea or vomiting. It acts by replacing the large amounts of electrolytes that are lost when you have diarrhea.

So when you have lost a significant amount of these substances in your body, this solution can replace it. I usually take 1-2 sachets a week which prevents these nasty cramps. A small sachet is dissolved in a glass of water. It has a high content of sodium and potassium chloride. It is sometimes given for free in government health centers. I hope this information will help others with the same predicament as mine.

By anon171644 — On May 01, 2011

I use to get calf cramps fairly often at night. Found out that keeping my calves warm at night eliminates the cramping. So either wearing something warm on my legs at night, or a few heavy blankets just on my legs worked wonders for me.

By anon170562 — On Apr 26, 2011

Both my calves cramped up last night at different times. The first one was bad, but the second had me screaming in agony. Today my calves are very tender and I've been stretching them from time to time because I feel like they are on the point of cramping up again. I've had nocturnal cramps before but never on both calves in the same night! I cramp up at night from time to time (once every few months maybe) so I treat it as a physiological fact of life. I just have to vent. The agony stinks. Each minute feels like five. I'm going to drink a bottle of water before I go to bed tonight!

By anon169699 — On Apr 22, 2011

I've found that urine therapy has helped me immeasurably. I know, I know, it sounds gross, but if you hold your nose, it's kind of like lemonade, and I no longer get the cramping at night, provided I take 3-4 ounces 30 minutes before bed. Other than the cramping, it's also gotten rid of the pain in my knees when I wake up, and there's a pleasant taste in my mouth when I get up, kind of like I just ate at Outback.

My doctor also took me off my blood pressure meds for the first time in ten years, and the only thing different that I'm doing is drinking my own pee. It's sterile, you know, and I no longer need to get up and go to the bathroom at night--I just refill my cup so I have a nice cool glass waiting when I awaken (I keep the house rather chilly--that helps with the night sweats and nocturnal emissions!). I hope this helps.

By jwarner — On Apr 08, 2011

A brief note on the use of Quinine sulfate tabs. I found I was sensitive to the sulfur, even in small amounts. Plus in some cases, it can lead to kidney problems later down the road. Even cheap wines containing sulfites affect me. My Dad went into cardiac arrest after being given a dose of a sulfa drug for asthma.

I only took one chemistry class in H.S., but sulfa, sulfites and sulfates and sulfides all contain sulfur molecules. Doctors will tell you that your allergies are not hereditary, but heart disease, diabetes, mental illness and alcoholism are.

They talk about Tylenol being so safe to take during the years, and now they find it can damage the liver.

I went to the V.A. hospital right after Tylenol was released and internal medicine doctor told me the college students coming to the E.R. for overdosing on Tylenol, were dying because it was perforating, actually eating holes in their liver. He said he would lose four out of five of them. With aspirin they could pump their stomach and give them something to neutralize it in the bloodstream.

I had to go to a liver disease specialist, because of taking Tylenol for sinus's medication too much. Just because it's over the counter doesn't mean it safe. Be careful out there!

By jwarner — On Apr 08, 2011

I used to work in a hot factory, and sweating constantly, especially in the summer months. I wore dark shirts that would be covered with a white powder. I would take salt tablets at work, which seemed to help for a while. Then, I started getting cramps at night, almost exactly two hours from the time I would fall asleep. I tried regular calcium (oyster shell) with no help. Tried citracal, and it helped a little, but found Calcet with vitamin D the most helpful.

My shins used to hurt so bad I couldn't stand to touch them. I found that if you work, and sweat a lot that the white powder on my shirt was a mixture of salt and calcium, to keep the electrolyte levels of calcium normal in my blood, it was stealing from my bones. I would take two tabs in the morning and two tabs at night a 1/2 hr before bedtime, and got the relief I needed. I found if I am working in the heat, I will take two tabs halfway through the day. For those of you just taking calcium, I found that the vitamin D is needed for the body to absorb the calcium.

Just a little note on the subject: avoid carbonated drinks because they have a tendency to dehydrate quicker. Also I noticed if I eat m&m's before I go to bed I will have cramps also. Weird huh!

By anon166447 — On Apr 08, 2011

i rarely get leg cramps in my calf (gastrocnemius) muscle, but when i do i find it funny i just naturally massaged the area with a circular motion -- and when i read this article, that is what it said to do.

i get tons of potassium (from orange juice) and magnesium (from nuts) though my calcium might need to increase. I think the more likely problem for me is dehydration, and last night, for the first time ever, i had foot cramps which were harder to deal with. When they finally went away i got a leg cramp (calf) and when i massaged that one away my foot cramped again.

By anon165399 — On Apr 04, 2011

tried pickle juice, about an ounce or ounce and a half, or yellow prepared mustard, about three to five tablespoons for years. Each works but I got tired of the taste and it's salty (too much for me/diet).

I accidentally found that drinking a 5.5oz can of low sodium V-8 juice at onset/during the cramp, it is relieved as you finish drinking. I keep it near my bed. Sometimes I get pain in both legs and then I may need to drink two cans. It works too. So good luck. Hope it helps you. Also, I walk while drinking and that seems to make it work faster than just lying there, and it has a good taste.

By anon164861 — On Apr 03, 2011

Dill pickle juice usually stops my severe leg cramps in two or three minutes. About an ounce or so. I guess it's the vinegar. I have also made a tea out of dill and it also works but not as quickly - but is easier to take with a little sugar than pickle juice.

By anon158456 — On Mar 07, 2011

I want to second what the earlier poster said about Quellitall. The stuff just works.

By anon155169 — On Feb 22, 2011

I've been waking up with awful cramps in my feet, calves and thighs. I have been sleeping with a heating pad I have to move it around all night. needless to say I haven't been sleeping well. I still have pain during the day I am very careful not to move too fast (fearful I'll cramp or spasm) The comments have been helpful, I am going to the health food store tomorrow and get some magnesium and potassium. I am also trying to drink more water. I don't wish this on anyone but I am thankful to find a place that sheds some light on it. Thanks!

By anon152907 — On Feb 15, 2011

Quellitall is a safe and effective remedy for night time leg cramps, muscle overuse cramps, dehydration cramps, and cramps accompanying kidney dialysis. Works great for me!

By anon152048 — On Feb 12, 2011

This is really helpful! I got another leg cramp last night. I'm only 13 and I've been getting these since I was 8. It usually happens when I'm sleeping, but it has happened while I was walking too. It's horrible! I'm not really sure what causes it, but maybe I should try to hydrate myself more often even though I am never thirsty, maybe drinking half a cup of water at the most a day. My legs always feel like I have pulled a muscle the day after I have a cramp.

Does this happen to anyone else? Because I hate having to limp or drag myself around school. Last night I was reaching for a band aid at 1 AM because my toe began bleeding. As I was outstretched, my leg began cramping. I tried to bring my toes up, but I curled up my body in a ball instead on the floor with the cramped leg outstretched because it was just hurting too much.

After a minute it went away. This wasn't my worst one though. My worst one was two years ago when I woke up just screaming in agony. This website really helped me! Thanks.

By anon147907 — On Jan 31, 2011

i had these cramps 20 years ago and they returned last night for the first time. 20 years ago they said i didn't have enough salt, and i started taking more salt and guess what? no cramps, so i will be back on the salt again.

By anon142254 — On Jan 12, 2011

My leg cramps ceased immediately. I stopped using raw sugar in my tea and coffee, one month ago. I'm a 65 year old woman and I wish I'd done this simple task years ago.

By anon139454 — On Jan 04, 2011

I am in a wheelchair because of charley horse cramps!

Twenty years ago I started having excruciating pain in my lower legs so bad that I went to the Emergency three times. Ten years ago I had my first calf cramps, followed by three days of the identical pain I had started having 10 years earlier. I couldn't take a step without the calves starting to cramp so I had to get a walker to lean on.

I tried everything, had every test imaginable, saw countless specialists, etc. but it got worse and worse. I had to wear sneakers to bed and brace my feet against the wall to stop from pointing my toes while sleeping, which is the flexing that can trigger a cramp. The cramping started happening in every single muscle of my entire body.

Every day for ten years now, I have my daily episodes, whether it be the abdomen, neck, groin, arm, thigh, foot-- you get the picture. The calf cramps were the worst and they seemed to set off a whole bunch of other symptoms: sensations of drops of water on legs, bugs crawling on skin of legs, twitching, spasms, legs either blue and ice cold or red and burning hot, and on and on.

Eventually, I had to get a wheelchair and the last time I stood up was in 2006. That was the most devastating point of my life-- grabbing onto the edge of the kitchen sink, hoisting myself out of my wheelchair and as soon as I stood up I got massive charley horse cramps in both my legs. I tried to stand up a dozen times for over an hour. My legs and feet went totally crazy after this and for several weeks I spent most of my time in bed writhing around in agony, screaming until I was hoarse, basically being tortured by pain in my ankles and feet that I cannot find the words to describe.

After getting several medical shrugs of the shoulder, I now scour the internet hoping to find another horror story like mine. It's a slow process because I'm too poor on disability to afford a PC and the monthly internet fee and must book a wheelchair bus eight days in advance (and I don't get most of the trips I book) so I can have two hours on the library computer.

I scanned through many comments and I wish to add my advice to cramp sufferers. Dehydration is a cause of cramps as is excessive sodium and refined sugar. Magnesium, and in particular, magnesium citrate (because that is a high absorption type), is crucial. It is a natural muscle relaxant and aids in the functioning of nerve impulses in your muscles. Magnesium causes diarrhea in large amounts so start out with taking 150 mg upon waking and 300 mg at bedtime. Gradually increase to 300 mg upon waking and 600 mg at bedtime. It takes 30 minutes for its muscle relaxing properties to kick in and it lasts for three to four hours.

Contrary to a lot of what I'm reading from commenters, calcium will not help-- if you think so, it's just a coincidence. In fact, excess build-up of calcium in the muscles causes cramps so skip the dairy consumption before bedtime. Indeed, calcium uses magnesium to metabolize itself, so don't take your therapeutic magnesium supplements with calcium supplements or with milk or ice cream.

By anon136516 — On Dec 22, 2010

I had horrible leg cramps last night that woke me up screaming in pain and lasted about 15 min. I got up and walked it off until the pain finally subsided.

The weird part is that I ate stir fried tofu, veggies and rice yesterday for dinner, and I remember having terrible leg cramps in the past after eating tofu. I wonder why that happens?

By anon134033 — On Dec 13, 2010

My left leg was bothering me last night. I was scared to straighten out my leg. The tightness was from my leg & hip socket right down to below my foot. The top of my foot around my smaller toes were tingly and ready to spasm and cramp. I thought i would have to fall asleep sitting up.

Today is a bit better, I'm limping around home, since there's no way I'm going to school limping. I tried the water and banana. I live in northern Alberta Canada, so maybe I can ask my doctor about quinine. This is my first really scary leg cramp.

Now, there is an ache behind my calf and my foot is still bent. It feels like it wants to cramp.

By anon133475 — On Dec 10, 2010

Thank you for your help! I've been worried lately. I'm only 14, and I have these excruciating cramps sometimes. I heard that the moment you feel it coming, you should stretch you leg out as straight as possible, really hard. This article was really informative! Thanks!

By anon133241 — On Dec 09, 2010

I am 16 years old, and have had these leg cramps since I can ever remember. I tend to get these cramps in the evening and at night. The thing that I found helps the most is wrapping my knee up to make it warm, and also wearing a few pairs of thermal socks. Keeping your leg or legs warm helps a lot!

Also, I found that moving my legs would make it feel better, but when I stopped moving them, it would feel 10 times worse. So, I found that if you just keep your legs still, it will pass soon. It will hurt like hell, and you will have to endure the burning pain, but it will go away faster than anything else! Also, Watkins Rubbing Liniment helps a lot. Just don't put too much on or else it will burn even worse!

I hope my experience will help a little for you. I never knew what this was. My mom thought it to be arthritis, but I just knew it wasn't. It's not exactly the same as RLS either! I am very glad for this website and that there are others out there experiencing the same problem. Thank you!

By anon133003 — On Dec 09, 2010

Once again, thank God for the internet.

By anon132161 — On Dec 05, 2010

As mentioned in most of these postings, leg, calves and Thigh cramps, I am experiencing shin leg cramps on both legs, has anyone experienced these types cramps? I have had all three of the previously mentioned but the shin cramping is a new type of cramping me, can the shin cramping be treated like the common three?

By anon126665 — On Nov 13, 2010

thanks for the instructions!

I often have calf cramps in the middle of the night and I'm only 13! it's very painful.

By anon125954 — On Nov 11, 2010

I am 19 years old and get leg cramps in my thighs every night when I lie on my side. It only started a couple months ago. I drink plenty of water and I am lactose intolerant. Does anyone know what else it could be caused from? --L

By anon111460 — On Sep 16, 2010

Last night I was sitting on my boyfriend's neighbor's couch when all of the sudden I felt like my knee had popped out of place, which has happened before. I just make myself stand up and it goes away.

However, last night the weirdest thing happened to me. I went to stand up and I felt like my leg was going to snap in half. I couldn't move whatsoever. It was the worst pain I've ever experienced. I'm only 17, should drink more water, and only eat bananas like twice a month. I rarely drink milk.

After screaming and not being able to move for about 30 minutes, I forced myself to just move it and I felt like I was literally dying. I called my mother's boyfriend to come get me and take me to the hospital, but I couldn't even get up to get in the truck. After five minutes of him being there, I made myself straighten my knee out, then made myself curl it up and massaged my entire leg cause I figured it was a charlie horse. It completely went away after that.

I felt like everyone thought I was faking, but it was the worst feeling of my life. I kind of embarrassed myself. At least it went away. If this happens put a bag of ice on it, and massage the hell out of it. It should help. Love, Ashley.

By anon108455 — On Sep 02, 2010

This was a strange thing to me when the other night my legs did what my husband's did a year ago. I was in bed sleeping and was woke by beginning cramps in feet and it went to my ankles and then calves and then on the left side of my knee. It was horrifically painful.

I moaned, wanting to scream, as it went to the next leg and lasted 10-15 mins. I was so tired. As my husband prayed, it began to let up then shortly after again, but not as bad and then gone. PTL!

My legs after felt so weak and tired. Walking felt strange at first. I have had blood work where everything is good: potassium, vitamin D, magnesium, etc., so I am taking vit E, vit C and water.

I have had diabetes for 30 years with third stage kidney disease stable for many years. I will be so blessed if it never happens again. --vmc. I drink a lot of tea, hot/cold.

By anon104371 — On Aug 16, 2010

I really do not know what is completely wrong with my legs. I have had waves of 'restless leg' feelings for almost nine years. The waves last about four to seven days, and when they go away, they come back in one to three months. The weather and exercise or water do not play a factor in it.

When I told my doctor that, as a child, I was barely able to sit still without my legs killing me and how I can't sleep through the night when I have problems, he said I was just growing. Well, the pains have gotten much, much worse.

I went to the doctor just recently and I was diagnosed with CMT. (Charcot Marie Tooth) I took a blood test today to figure out which type of CMT I have. The doctor told me that's the reason I've been having problems with my legs. But doctor gave me some nerve medicine.

I had to take it every day, and I don't want to sound picky, but if it comes four to seven days out of one to three months, I don't want to take it every day. But I should just suck it up and take it.

But I just want to know that maybe it's not linked to CMT, maybe something else?

By anon102062 — On Aug 06, 2010

Thanks for having information out there that can help. My legs have been killing me.

By anon101482 — On Aug 03, 2010

I have the same thing. These leg cramps are a killer. Mine is from waking up and pointing my toes. i can slowly feel my muscle cramp up and then i scream in pain. By the time the cramp is gone, i can't walk on it until hours later. This time, my right leg still feels tensed, but not painfully tensed. Any help is appreciated!

By anon101089 — On Aug 02, 2010

I am trying the albion formula of magnesium and potassium. Magnesium as a salt will simply not absorb and will run right through you, like milk of magnesia. I don't want to sell a product as I am just trying it myself because it makes sense. You can read about it on the web, the protein required for absorption, etc.

By anon99280 — On Jul 25, 2010

I am a 14 year old and I get muscle cramps no matter if it is night or day. They happen a lot when I first wake up in the morning. I tried potassium and water for me is not a problem because it is all I drink, being allergic to a certain thing in soft drinks. I still don't seem to get relief.

I went to the doctor about it and he said because I am just a kid it is hard for him to prescribe a medicine to take care of it. I am willing to try anything!

By anon94935 — On Jul 10, 2010

Whomever was posting the 'homeopathic remedy', all others please note. Homeopathic remedies have literally nothing in them but water. It is 'magic water'. All and I do mean all homoeopathic remedies in double blind studies have been found useless.

I had horrible night lower calf leg and foot cramps, pain so severe it was bordering on intolerable. I studied up and here is what eliminated them entirely.

Magnesium, potassium (Banana each day), calcium (Tums), vitamin D to allow absorption of minerals, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, fish oil caps, and plenty of water to avoid dehydration.

100 percent relief. Skip the witch doctor 'magic water' nonsense of homeopathy, and use the actual vitamins and minerals that work. You'll be glad you did.

One funny thing about homeopathic remedies, they all pitch that there are 'no side effects'! Well of course! There are no effects at all so there are no side effects! I wonder how they convince people that the ultra diluted barely one molecule if undetectable substance left in the 'magic water' manages to provide full relief as if it was the actual substance, but never any of the side effects of the actual substance!

By anon93374 — On Jul 03, 2010

My situation is similar to many here. I get a severe leg cramp, I jump out of bed and the other leg cramps up. I recently had three severe leg cramps at the same time. I screamed in agony. It lasted for about 10 minutes non-stop. My voice was hoarse for one week. Awful experience.

By anon92517 — On Jun 28, 2010

For calf and foot cramps try a couple of tums at the onset of the cramping.

By anon92294 — On Jun 27, 2010

I am thankful for the instructions to prevent cramps in legs.

By Investigator — On Jun 25, 2010

I found the cause!

In my case I have tracked down the cause to the “cow or ox meat” and also “dairy products” processed using cow milk came from a “certain” whole seller of cow milk who perhaps gave “drug” to cows and oxen to cause a “leg paralysis” just before slaughtering them. Effects of the drug must have been passed onto humans via meat, milk and milk products. Products processed using that milk cheese, ice cream, sour cream, yogurt, and many other dairy products) can also cause it.

Why the geographical difference?

In 1982, I came to this country and lived in a college dormitory in MI with a 21-year-old roommate who woke me up in the middle of the night because she was screaming due to leg cramps. I watched in horror but could not help her. She had many episodes of it. I did not understand what it was back then.

Two years later I moved into a western state to continue with my education, and ate dairy ice cream on a daily basis but never experienced it.

Beginning of rest-time leg cramps: Because of a job transfer in 2003 I moved into a southern part of KY. I remember it all started while resting in my couch watching TV after eating a beef steak at dinner purchased from Food Lion (grocer no. 1). At first I did not relate the incident to the steak and kept purchasing for a while. Yes I had the episode every time I ate the same steak from grocer no. 1. Then stopped purchasing it for a while and the episode stopped. Purchased it from grocer no. 1 again and the episode occurred. Purchased beef steak and non grocer-brand cow milk from grocer no. 2 and it did not occur. Purchased grocer’s brand cow milk from grocer no. 1 and the episode occurred. At this point I had a feeling of a need to investigate! Note: grocer’s brand means the product is sold or distributed using the grocer’s name or a different name created by the grocer

Started my investigation in 2003 and it is still ongoing.

While living in southern KY and working in TN, purchased a beef steak and non grocer’s-brand cow milk from grocer no. 3 in TN: it did not occur. Purchased grocer’s brand cow milk from grocer no. 1 in TN: it occurred. Purchased non grocer’s brand milk from grocer no. 1 in TN: it did not occur. Purchased beef steak from grocer no. 1: it occurred. Purchased non grocer’s-brand milk and steak from grocer no. 4 in TN, it occurred after eating steak but did not occur with non-brand milk. Comments: Grocer nos. 1 and 4 may have purchased beef steak meat from the same wholesaler.

Purchased grocer’s brand-cow milk and beef steak from Grocer no. 5: the episode did not occur. Purchased beef steak and non grocer’s- brand cow milk from Grocer no. 6: it did not occur. I continue taking statistics to see if there is a change.

During the years between 2003 - 2007 I had cream cheese made by a firm in PA and the episode did not occur but now in 2010 the same cream cheese is causing me the episode. As long as I do not eat it and any other dairy products, the episode does not occur. Did the cheese manufacturer switch the wholesaler of milk?

If I do not eat beef steak and dairy products from known sellers, the episode does not occur. Each and every episode has occurred only after ingesting aforementioned products. To date, I have not found any other cause.

Written by: A beef steak and dairy products lover.

By anon91411 — On Jun 21, 2010

can someone explain to me the remedy "soap in the bed"? I have tried almost every thing else and continue to have the most horrible cramps. I have to get out of bed to the shower and with the water hot and the jet strong I sit there for long time (20 minutes-plus ) before the cramps go away and I can go back to bed.

My cramps come back every two hours so i don't sleep and i am afraid of falling. I live alone so there is no body to help me to the bathroom. I need a way to stop this hell.

In the past the doctor gave the quinine but it is not on the market anymore. Please help. I work 12 hours at night in a hospital so I walk and stay standing for an extended period of time.

By anon90233 — On Jun 15, 2010

I suffered terribly with nocturnal leg cramps while I was pregnant with my second child. The midwife told me to drink a glass of tonic water before bed, that the quinine was supposed to help and it did. it worked a treat and the cramps disappeared.

By anon89331 — On Jun 09, 2010

After reading these comments on what can help our problems, and we mention specifically what helps us. It seems the government takes it away from us and makes it harder for us to get it. Like Quinine -- they took it off the shelves. I don't think they want us to get better, in my opinion.

I do appreciate all the helpful suggestions. Quinine does help leg cramps.

By anon88394 — On Jun 04, 2010

Excellent information. I looked this up after having the leg cramp from Hell last night and now realize that my caffeine (coffee) intake has tripled over the last few weeks, whereas my water intake has severely diminished.

I took a Zumba class at the gym last night (as normal) and later that night when I got home I noticed my legs were unusually stiff. I went to bed a few hours later and was awakened by a horrendous muscle cramp that went from my right butt cheek all the way down to the back of my right knee. It felt like a fist was in the back on my knee.

When I reacted to the pain, my left leg cramped up, too! I was in absolute agony.

I was able to work the left leg out quickly but the right was stubborn. I had to hurl myself out of bed and drug my leg down the hallway back and forth until I could walk on it. But when I tried to get back into bed, it cramped up again! This went on for a while.

At one point I just screamed because I felt so helpless and it hurt so badly. The screaming didn't ease the pain but I felt better emotionally. LOL.

All day today my right thigh and butt cheek have ached and at times felt like they were going to cramp up on me again. I drank 20 oz of water and plan on drinking more before I got to bed tonight.

By anon85334 — On May 19, 2010

i don't have any leg pain usually, but whenever there is drastic change in weather, like for example: it was sunny all in the morning but suddenly, it rains heavily! then i have tremendous pain in my legs. it usually starts from leg then rises up to the thigh. can you help me out?

By anon85073 — On May 18, 2010

I am 18 years old and very athletic, but I can't seem to play a full soccer game without getting a muscle spasm during it. Occasionally, I get night time spasms.

By anon84523 — On May 16, 2010

I suffer from leg cramps on both legs, and the pain is always excruciating. Lately, mu feet will be twisting round involuntarily. Can anybody help? i am over 75 years old. anonymous.

By anon83084 — On May 09, 2010

@Dragonwind: maybe you need to get your thyroid checked.

When my thyroid is under or over active, as it has been for many years, I get exactly those pulsating, little spasms in my calves.

I also can see the movement, and it feels really uncomfortable and weird but there is no pain.

Now that my thyroid has stabilized at this stage, I don't have this twitching, crawling sensation anymore.

Leg cramps can also be the result of thyroid imbalance and I have had many calf and foot cramps over the years. Hope this helps.

By anon79447 — On Apr 22, 2010

I occasionally get leg cramps at night and they hurt like hell. However I have also had them before when I was resting. I am nowhere near the elderly or middle aged criteria but I still have them.

However I have not had any recently. The last time that I remember having one was at a scout camp where I would not have that much water(my fault) and daily fruit (did not eat often). Hydration and electrolytes really are key to avoiding these painful experiences.

By anon73117 — On Mar 25, 2010

For me, it's clearly not enough water. If I play golf on a warm dry day, I may get cramps that night; sometimes very severe cramps.

When I do get cramps at night, I go to the fridge where I keep a supply of Gatorade diluted half with water. After a lot of drinking, the cramps eventually disappear and I go back to bed. I have learned that if I drink a large glass of water upon arising; then another after breakfast, I'm OK. Also, I drink diluted Gatorade when exercising.

Still at times, after playing golf on a hot, dry, breezy day, I get cramps at night.

By anon71811 — On Mar 20, 2010

"My sister in law is a ballet dancer and she told me once to drink a glass of milk during a leg cramp and it will stop it. I've done this four or five times and it works every time. The cramping eases almost immediately and is completely gone within 2-5 minutes. - anon64480 "

"This is ridiculous! You can't expect any nutrients from the milk to get to your muscles that quickly. It must be a mental thing."

It's not even a mental thing. A leg cramp usually only lasts for a short while, and stretching it out makes it stop, so by the time you get up, walk around and get milk and drink it, naturally the cramp will be gone. Has nothing to do with the milk.

It's simply that the cramp has started and stopped in that period of time.

By anon71029 — On Mar 17, 2010

I am really surprised not to see one comment mentioning the beginning of the nocturnal cramps after starting some medications.

I started one (an anti-epileptic but prescribed for another problem), and a few days later the cramps started, getting worse as I increased the initial doses.

Both calves completely cramped, both feet turned to the interior, and what a pain! I woke up yelling! And the pain in the calves lasted hours after the cramp was gone.

At about the same time, my sister was prescribed a similar medication, and also started having exactly the same terrible cramps: when she stopped the medication, the cramps also stopped!

Surprisingly, nowhere in those medications side effects are cramps mentioned: maybe my sister and I have a common gene that made us have that reaction. But I had to keep on the medication.

I eat all the foods recommended, (except maybe not enough water), but only the Quinine could help me, even if the FDA does not recommend it for cramps.

By anon70425 — On Mar 14, 2010

I am an active 80 year old male. Frequently get night cramps in calves, shins and feet. I use Flexall, active ingredient Menthol. It is an over the counter product intended for minor arthritis and muscle pain and it gives me instant relief 100 percent of the time. Very inexpensive relief.

By anon69194 — On Mar 06, 2010

" My sister in law is a ballet dancer and she told me once to drink a glass of milk during a leg cramp and it will stop it. I've done this four or five times and it works every time. The cramping eases almost immediately and is completely gone within 2-5 minutes.

- anon64480 "

This is ridiculous! You can't expect any nutrients from the milk to get to your muscles that quickly. It must be a mental thing.

By anon67958 — On Feb 28, 2010

Mornings on awakening if I stretch, all of a sudden my foot will cramp curling and the muscles in back of the thigh will cramp curling the lower leg up.

Usually, I just rub the muscles to the rear of the leg to loosen up enough so that I can stand. Normally standing, putting my weight on the foot clears the cramps. I take calcium and magnesium and Vitamin D. I cannot take quinine. I wear warm socks to bed, and use a warm blanket. It may be I do not drink enough water?

Thinking about it, I drink a lot of decaf tea, but I normally only have one cup of coffee in the morning.

By anon66413 — On Feb 19, 2010

Found a cure for mine. I used to have nocturnal leg cramps several times a week. I have not had any at all since I started taking L-arginine capsules. They are available over the counter in the supplement section of most stores near the pharmacy section.

I find that I only need to take one 500mg capsule per day to keep my leg cramps under control. You should consult your doctor before taking L-arginine or any other supplement to make sure it is not contra-indicated for any medical conditions that you might have.

By anon66378 — On Feb 19, 2010

A quinine capsule before bed has controlled my leg and foot cramps for 50 years. They started at age 14. A hot bath relieves in an emergency. When I forget to take the capsule at night, the cramps occur.

In Canada they are not on the shelf but obtained by prescription and paied for by the patient. My physician suspected 'nerve ends'. At times, when I stretch a leg muscle for relief, there is a cracking sound as the muscle relaxes. ZEn

By anon65461 — On Feb 13, 2010

I suffer occasionally from calf and foot cramps to the stage that i can't walk the next day. I have found after wearing high heels that I will get night cramps.

By anon65202 — On Feb 11, 2010

I just suffered leg and thigh cramps this evening, which normally I don't get while going to bed. I think really it's more of mineral imbalances in the body as I've done everything wrong today to cause it.

At the office, I drank a stronger mix of black coffee and mid day I had diet cola which normally I don't do. After office, at the gym, I worked out my leg muscles too much and perspired a lot, forgetting to drink more water at the gym and upon reaching home.

My dinner was saltier than usual and I drank a type of sour milk after dinner which normally I don't do. With the weather cold and while lying in bed but propped up watching tv, the severe leg cramped happened.

The lesson of this incident is, we should watch our diet, drink plenty of water, avoid too much caffeine as found in coffee and diet colas, too much salt in foods. Drinking milk at the wrong time may trigger cramps. Don't overstrain yourself while exercising, have your daily vitamins and be aware that the proper balance of magnesium, phosphorous and potassium in our body is unique to every individual, and as we grow older, we should seek proper medical advice on how to maintain this equilibrium to get our muscles and nerves in proper working order.

I've learned my lesson well.

By anon64480 — On Feb 07, 2010

My sister in law is a ballet dancer and she told me once to drink a glass of milk during a leg cramp and it will stop it. I've done this four or five times and it works every time. The cramping eases almost immediately and is completely gone within 2-5 minutes.

By anon64350 — On Feb 06, 2010

I get muscle cramps in both of my hamstrings, my knees, my groin and any other muscle in my legs at night and have been looking for a reason/cause. I'm 60, a bit overweight (5'`0 and 210 lbs down from 240). I work full time in the TLE Department of Wal Mart.

Recently I have discovered that I get involuntary movement and pain of my left arm that feels like cramping. Ideas?

By anon64169 — On Feb 05, 2010

Have a martini over ice as a nightcap, let the ice melt to water it down. Gin and Vermouth together have enough quinine in them to prevent leg cramps at night and there are other herbs steeped into these that increase blood circulation. another significant factor in nocturnal leg cramps. Also a little alcohol will dilate blood vessels and increase thirst, encouraging you to drink more water.

By anon63335 — On Feb 01, 2010

From a 74 year old woman: I have experienced nocturnal leg and foot cramps for a number of years and found relief only by walking it off. For Xmas last year I received a pair of snug fitting, non-binding-cotton knee socks.

I decided to wear them to bed one night, and didn't experience any cramps. Since then I've worn them every night for over a month now and have had only a couple of minor cramps. What do you think? In the meantime, I'll continue to wear them at night. Finally found relief.

By anon59712 — On Jan 09, 2010

At a conference recently dinner was served very late. I had awful cramps that night. Last night I had a late barbecue - dreadful cramps. I think your one lady is onto something.

I can't drink too much water without taking diuretics (plus potassium, of course) because my legs simply swell up. So I choose not to drink too much water.

With all the advice, I will stop eating or snacking after 8 p.m. and I will go onto multi vitamins. Bridget

By anon59474 — On Jan 08, 2010

I have been tortured with horrendous leg cramps for more than a year and can't find relief. I cramp in both legs simultaneously: toes, top of foot, outside of leg from ankle upward, behind and above knee, inside of thigh. It is tormenting.

I drink 20-80 oz. water daily. I do not think this is a potassium problem - only because my doctor has called me back in for blood recheck a few times because my levels were too high. Help! Any suggestions are greatly appreciated. These cramps last several minutes (often 15+ min.). I am 58, female, diabetic, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol.

By anon56912 — On Dec 18, 2009

I also have had leg, calf, thigh cramps at night. Has happened for as long as I can remember. The one thing I found to work was swallowing a packet of mustard. That would take it away almost instantly. But I got so sick of tasting mustard in the wee hours of the morning. Your comments are helpful! I am going to try them.

By anon55202 — On Dec 05, 2009

I only have cramps in my toes, any ideas?

By anon52983 — On Nov 18, 2009

The answers are all pretty much covered in the article above.

You need to hydrate and increase your sodium, potassium and calcium levels. Dairy is not a good source of calcium. You're much better to get it from green leafy vegetables (which also contain good levels of potassium and magnesium).

Everyone *thinks* they drink enough water. You don't. Admit it to yourself, get over it and drink more. I thought I had enough until I started to track what I had and I found it wasn't even close.

Count up what water (not soda, tea, coffee etc) you've had in the last three days. It won't be more than a liter a day.

This is my experience: the more sugars I take in, the more water I need. The more processed food I take in the more water I need. So consider upping your water above the 3l mark if you're eating a lot of foods which have their water cooked out of them.

I get wicked bad cramps when I don't follow these rules. They go away without fail when I change my water and electrolyte (sodium, potassium, magnesium) intake from natural sources.

By anon50834 — On Nov 01, 2009

Well at night I start kicking and then I'm like what the heck is going on. I'm like really hurting in the calf of my leg. And it lasts for about three or four minutes. Then when I woke up in the morning I tried to walk on it and it hurts really bad. It's been going on for about months now. Tell me what's wrong.

By anon50727 — On Oct 31, 2009

I am posting #42 below. Forgot to add that I totally stopped using anything with artificial sweeteners and cut down on packaged/processed foods. I still have not had a significant leg cramp in at least three or four months. We have well water and I think a lot of the improvement is related to bottled water and the calcium, sodium and magnesium and less artificial things in my food.

By anon49943 — On Oct 24, 2009

I suffer from nocturnal leg cramps(NLC) ranging from moderate to severe. They hit my right inner thigh, calves and both ankles, sometimes all at the same time. When my ankles are affected I look like I have polio. Standing helps to realign the feet. I have increased calcium-no change; hydration is not a problem; increased potassium-no change. What I did not know about was the magnesium and quinine tips. I will try those one at a time. Also, from the Mayo clinic I found, re: nocturnal leg cramps that in some cases (not all), nocturnal leg cramps may be associated with underlying medical conditions. A few of these are: Addison's disease, alcoholism, blood pressure medications, cirrhosis, dehydration, Type 2 Diabetes. There are more but I will not list all. Remember, that just because NLC are present, does not mean you definitely have an underlying medical condition. We all know to get things checked first.

I am diabetic so perhaps being more diligent in treating the diabetes will reduce the amount or severity of my NLC. I hope we all find relief. ~M~

By anon49663 — On Oct 22, 2009

I work 12 hour shifts. At night if I eat dessert or indulge in something sweet before bed I get cramps in my legs. What makes this happen? What is the fastest relief so I can get back to sleep? (Okay, I'll give up the sweets at night.)

By anon48615 — On Oct 13, 2009

Im 15 and I get these all the time. I wake up at night and involuntarily kick my leg, then I'm like "crap here it comes." they can get pretty long; I've screamed out loud on numerous occasions. I'll try the advice here. Otherwise I'm a very healthy child.

By anon48301 — On Oct 11, 2009

Although I am searching causes for leg cramps on google there is about a four- minute cure someone shared several years ago. I chew one or two (depending how bad the cramp) zinc tablets and leave it under my tongue for a couple of minutes. Zinc can be purchased at most health foods dtores, or a local pharmacy. They have been 100 percent effective for me. However, I do not like the taste and during an episode I become anxious and wonder if the zinc will work this time. Again, so far chewing zinc tablets has been my 100 percent effective cure. Is that a good thing to do? I do not know. Hope it helps someone. BB

By anon47459 — On Oct 05, 2009

In addition to consuming enough water during the day and night, I find that running a small vaporizer/humidifier helps. The air gets a little too dry at home when the seasons change. The extra moisture keeps my skin hydrated and my voice ready to sing.

By anon45650 — On Sep 18, 2009

I have been having charlie horses or leg cramps, specifically in my calves for years! It started when I was pregnant and then returned later in my years. I am 46. I eat at least 1 banana a day and take a multi-vitamin. That doesn't help, but I could be not drinking enough water. I have slacked in the water department lately, and will try drinking more. They are so painful when I try to stretch it out. But it passes, but what a nightmare. Sometimes I can still feel the soreness as if I worked my calves out at the gym. But after reading all the above posts, I have nothing to lose by adding magnesium. With me it is always how many mg's do you actually take?

By anon44980 — On Sep 12, 2009

Thanks for all the info about leg cramps. I have noticed that if I walk a lot during the day and don't drink enough water I get leg cramps.

By anon44619 — On Sep 09, 2009

I have had charley horses since I was 17 years old. I am now 30. My doctor put me on a 400 milligram magnesium supplement. Since going on the magnesium the cramps have really slowed down to maybe one a year. I notice that I get them after eating bananas. Not just one banana every now and then but when I eat one a day for a couple of days. Just had one last week. They are so awful. My husband jumps up in the middle of the night to massage it for me. I find that if he helps me massage it that I can actually walk the next day.

By anon42523 — On Aug 21, 2009

Website helped a lot. Have had bad cramps for about a year at night. Due to info on site I'm drinking bottled water, drinking the juice of one full lemon or lime daily, magnesium supplement and calcium in morning and again right before bed, lots of water, untucked bed sheets at bottom so they can't pull on my legs, drank pickle juice and increased sodium. Better. Only got one cramp this week. I too had none on vacation which means stress might play a part also. LPK

By anon40409 — On Aug 08, 2009

I just started having leg cramps at night. The first time I had it since I was pregnant. I thought I dreamed it. I must have been exhausted.

When I was pregnant the doctor told me I was drinking too much milk and to cut back. I was only drinking 1 cup a day. I cut this out and the leg cramps disappeared.

I love cappuccino, and I know it has milk I think I'm going to drink more water and cut back on that. I will also try some of the other suggestions here.

When I woke up this morning again with leg cramps, I knew I wasn't dreaming. It's very painful and nothing seems to help relieve the pain.

I know if I keep my legs covered at night it helps a little. My husband thinks I'm crazy for wanting a cover over my legs even in the summer, but what can you do?

By anon40090 — On Aug 06, 2009

I have had leg and foot cramps for over 20 years. I'm 52 and otherwise healthy. I am a nurse and have read extensively on the subject. I take Mg each day, along with eating a banana, and water, water, water. I stretch. I put the soap under the sheet. You name it, I've tried it. Nothing has worked. I am getting 1-3 spasms a night that leave my poor calves and feet feeling like I worked out all night. Need I say, I don't sleep much. One thing I forgot about was sodium. I eat hardly *any* salt. Once, when I had a few good weeks, I noticed I was eating more salt. I'm going to try it again. It might explain the pickle juice that worked for another writer. Anyway, good luck. These things are awful. I also have the twitching.

By anon38551 — On Jul 27, 2009

While it's probably caused by excess coffee drinking, the solution is simple: take 1 - 2 magnesium tablets per day. this works and addresses the cause: mineral deficiency. (you should be taking calcium too, like Tums or equivalent). Taking potassium is dangerous. So eat bananas if you wish, but be very careful with the potassium. Magnesium will solve the problem.

By anon36869 — On Jul 15, 2009

If your sugars are high, the more chance for leg cramps. Be sure to keep your lower extremeties warm at night or they will cramp


By anon36868 — On Jul 15, 2009

I have been a diabetic for 22 years and noticed the leg and foot cramps soon after diagnosis. I was originally taking quinine but after they removed it from the US markets I now take 2 595mg of potassium gluconate a day plus 1 calcium and magnesium.

The most important advice for you is not to drink carbonated drinks! That is most of the problem or was for me. Drink plenty of water as recommended above. The lack of accessibility to quinine has not been a problem for me.

By anon36484 — On Jul 12, 2009

As long as I drink three glasses of milk a day I do not get leg cramps.

By anon35227 — On Jul 03, 2009

How much tonic water do you take? I haven't looked it up to find out exactly what it is, but how much Mag gx do you take? My doctor put me on a pill to pull fluids. When I told him what was happening, he didn't take me off that med. He was trying to get my blood pressure down. I'm a non-insulin diabetic and have read where diuretics screws up your electrolytes. He should've known that.Can someone help?

By anon34840 — On Jun 29, 2009

i don't like the idea of taking quinine everyday, but i can get it easily at my local health food store. it is Highlands leg cramp medicine with quinine. you dissolve the tablets under your tongue and my husband says it works within minutes. hope it helps some of you.

By misskandas — On Jun 06, 2009

Garden: I have been reading a ton about nocturnal leg cramps as I had them quite often during high school. My family was not well off and relied on Medicaid for insurance-due to the government's effort to not spend much on health care the doctor's I saw always treated symptoms I had growing up as separate things not willing to do the more expensive tests which in the long run would have cost them tons!

Basically since I can remember I often passed out, had migraines, was always cold and had "exercised induced asthma." All symptoms were treated separately and nothing worked. Once I passed out on my grandmother as an adult in college and she sent me to her doctor, covering all expenses and finally a proper diagnosis was made which has changed my life- Mitral Valve Prolapse. All symptoms, including leg cramps while sleeping are gone--I feel normal.

As I was researching nocturnal leg cramps I wanted to make sure to prevent them as a teen I was an avid distance runner and injury followed by surgery took me out for a few years. All the causes listed that I've found do not apply to my lifestyle: I get enough of the proper minerals, always eat organic, constantly drink water, and never stay still for long. I'm 24 and never had a child yet. The leg cramps plagued me for years. Keep on with the research as I'm proof there may be a link to an unknown heart condition.

By steadyed — On May 07, 2009

One of the best cures for leg cramps is tonic water. I have used this for years and it does the job. You also can add a little gin for relaxation. I keep several bottles on hand at all times. A glass even before bed time will work. Try it.

By Garden — On Apr 19, 2009

To: Defunkedkaraoke

Sounds like Restless Leg Syndrome to me. Mag Phos 6X is at any health food store that carries Homeopathic Remedies. Don't know if it helps RLS, but the health food staff should be able to recommend something specific to that condition. They're promoting drugs for RLS on TV, but that would personally be my last ditch choice.

By defunkaraoke — On Apr 19, 2009

Need help...mine is not leg cramps

(charlie horses). I *cannot* explain how it feels, but mainly at night my legs feel heavy with pains from groin to toes, up & down hips. Just everything. You know how an hour glass shifts the sand? Well that is how they feel & very heavy. Anything touching my leg area they move & jerk. What is up with me??? But when I am up all day I am great.

Can anyone help out? Now I have noticed mag. phos 6x. Can that only be bought online or through a health food store? Walmart & walgreens do not carry it. Thank you...relief would be nice.

By pitmanl — On Apr 09, 2009

I also have the twitching in my calves which drives me crazy. The only thing I have found that seems to cause it is the local drinking water. I have reached this conclusion as I never get the cramps or the twitching when I am away on holiday. Doesn't help though when I am not away! Would love to find a cure as I can be up 3 to 4 times a night and nearly pass out with the pain, plus am very tired!!

By anon29705 — On Apr 07, 2009

I wish to post a warning about using a heating pad to alleviate cramps. I've had severe cramps for 20 years. One night a cramp in my inner thigh was severe, so I put a heating pad on it, thinking I would take it off in a few minutes. Unfortunately, I did not, I fell asleep. The next day, I had a red irritation which developed into a 3rd degree burn, which took 5 weeks to heal, and I still have an ugly scar.

I am willing to try anything that will work!!

By anon29437 — On Apr 01, 2009

I've never had nocturnal cramps until recently. I was out of town and had terrible cramping in my feet and hands...kept me from sleeping. I called my doctor and he called in a prescription for a quinine sulfate capsule. I'm lucky I have insurance, but I haven't had a problem since I began taking the quinine capsule.

The literature says it is used to treat malaria. I don't care, as I have had no problem since I began the medicine.

By anon29336 — On Mar 31, 2009

I have just looked up quinine... see below. Maybe these cramps are caused by some parasite that lives in our bodies? Or is that too far fetched - I mean it's probably something a doctor wouldn't look for?

Since quinine is medication used to treat malaria (a disease caused by a parasite that lives part of its life in humans and part in mosquitoes) couldn't this be true?


By anon26906 — On Feb 20, 2009

i have nasty leg cramps for at least three years. if i eat a couple of bananas a week that eliminates the problem as it increases the potassium level. i get the cramps two to three times a week and i must stretch my legs to eliminate the pain.

knowing that it would occur again later i drink about a half of a cup of pickle juice. sounds crazy but it works from a minute or two to a maximum of 5 minutes. there never has been a recurrence during the same night.

the pickle juice must be very high in one of the minerals, but i have not researched it to find out which minerals. i use the juice from kosher pickles but i suppose it may not make a difference. david

By anon24311 — On Jan 10, 2009

i have that about 2-3 times a month...but i never knew how to relieve them...i do now

By anon19713 — On Oct 17, 2008

Hopefully this will bring relief to those suffering from severe muscle spasms. This is what has worked for me. I had charley horses for years. The condition finally got to where I dreaded going to sleep at night, because my legs convulsed all night long. It was usually so bad that I had to try to sleep sitting up in a chair. I had this chronic problem for many years. The cramping would hit both of my legs at the same time, and every square inch of my legs were cramped -- from my toes to my groin -- such pain and suffering. Doctors could not tell me why I had this chronic problem. I finally looked at my diet and removed the following items from it. I stopped using carbonated beverages. I threw out every product in the house that contained artificial sweetener and especially aspartame. My chiropractor has a detox setup, so I did twelve sessions of drawing toxins out of my body, and I changed my diet to organic foods. Our food supply is robbed of the nutrients it once had and one can only find wholesome nourishment these days in organic foods that are specially grown and actually nourish the body. I started taking 200 mg of magnesium three times a day: morning, afternoon, and evening, along with 1800mg of calcium, 600mg three times a day. It is the magnesium, however, that helps leg cramping. I also have stopped snacking after 8:00 p.m. When we eat a large flow of blood rushes to our stomach to help digest our food, thus leaving our extremities and muscles -- in my case -- without the necessary blood flow to cleanse my muscles. Thus, I had severe leg cramping. I still get leg cramping from time to time, but it is within the realm of "normal" cramping. It never fails, however, if I break my rule and eat even the slightest snack after 8:00 p.m., assuming I'm not allowing three to four hours for my food to digest before going to bed, I most certainly will be struck with one or more leg cramps in the evening hours as I sleep. I hope you find this helpful. Ann

By anon19313 — On Oct 09, 2008

I too have suffered calf and foot cramps. I used to take quine and since my episodes are realls unpredictable a script lasts me almost a year. Recently they have stopped selling quinine in the US and have replaced it with a much more expensive and "safer" medication. I get all of my prescriptions through Canada (I pay for all mine) and that may help you. A word of warning to those that "walk" them off. I have always thought that passing out from pure pain was a hypochondriacs mantra, however I am here to say it is not. In an effort to walk of a severe cramp I passed out and broke my ankle. Im lucky I didn't hit my head on something or worse. I am 53 ant that is the only bone I have ever broken and omg was I a baby about that cast! I hated it. I only stand by my bed now. Be careful with that walking!

By Garden — On Oct 03, 2008

Along with the Homeopathic remedy MAG PHos 6X I now keep a bottle of diet tonic water next to my bed (within easy reach)! When a cramp wakes me, I take both the Homeopathic remedy and the tonic water. Been working really good.

I heard that tonic water also works for restless leg syndrome, and other twitching leg problems. It's the quinine, but since it's on the prescription list the tonic water is readily available and much less expensive. Let me know if this helps you.

By lori0213 — On Oct 02, 2008

I haven't drank milk for 6 months and have cut out the other dairy products also. Since then, I have not had any "cramps".

Every once in a while I get a pain in my thigh like a nail is going through it ....but other than that, I have been sleeping great.

By anon18879 — On Oct 01, 2008

I have suffered with nocturnal leg cramps for years...foot, calf, occasionally thigh. I have tried quinine, soap in the bed (will try something other than Ivory, LOL) calcium with oyster shell, potassium, stretching, and have a mini massager by the bed. If I can catch the cramp early I may be able to stop it by walking/massaging. If not, it's hit the hot shower massage for a few minutes. I get them more often in winter and always keep my feet and legs warm. The cold seems to bring on the cramps. I have had ultrasounds and other tests to rule out clots, etc. My doctor says I have "Old Lady Legs". I am 58.

By anon15597 — On Jul 16, 2008

I have stumbled onto something worth sharing. Ever since I started taking Cod Liver Oil, I've noticed the leg cramps have diminished. Not the reason I take the oil, but a wonderful "side effect" Worth a try. The Norwegian orange flavored - not too bad tasting. Liquid works better than gel caps. Hope it helps you too.

By OldJack — On Jul 16, 2008

In the year 1978 I was given anecdotal information that some people had used quinine in the treatment of leg cramps, which I had suffered from approximately all my walking life. I proceeded to try some vile pills, that if swallowed gave me a pain free nights sleep. Then I found capsules and the world was good!

When the U. S. Government made them a prescription med. I convinced my regular physician to prescribe and on my occasional visit to my Canadian Grandsons where I could still buy over the counter. The cost of travel did increase and the Canadian government also made them prescription, so this plan was abandoned and I was forced back into the system. All went fairly well until I was notified my pharmacy would only give me a seven (7) day supply at the same cost as my previous 30 day supply. That meant that my co-pay instead of being $20 a month is $20 a week, plus 3 more trips to the pharmacy! and the cost of fuel really adds up. I know that at my age (78) I won't need them much longer, but I'd really like to live out my life pain free and out of debtors prison. OldJack

By anon14313 — On Jun 14, 2008

Re: Garden. Thank you so much. My doctor in Canada mentioned that there is still no known cause but the low magnesium/phosphate can sometimes be a factor and also mentioned that quinine works. I would prefer to try the homeopathic remedy before resorting to anything else. I also find that setting my watch to chime every hour to drink a 1/2 cup of water helps me to stay hydrated and lessens the cramps.

For the person who asked what Homeopathic Mag Phos 6X is, run a google search and you should find out what it is.... Apparently its a nerve stabilizer.

By anon13349 — On May 25, 2008

Re the post by Garden: What is Homeopathic Mag Phos 6X? Please elaborate, as I have tried everything else mentioned in these postings and would be interested in a further explanation.

By jcgcscgc — On May 24, 2008

I only get cramps in the calf when I'm in bed and try to stretch my legs, usually in the early hours of the morning.

I'm 62 years old.

By lori0213 — On May 19, 2008

I have been getting calf pain in the middle of the night since I was 5yrs old. I am now 42 and now I get pains in the top of my foot also (mostly left side). The pains are more severe now and almost causing me to pass out.

I have had several tests done and all come back fine. It doesn't seem to matter what I do throughout the day either. I just want them to stop.

By Garden — On May 02, 2008

Leg and foot cramps: Quinine works good, but makes my ears ring. Homeopathic Mag. Phos 6X has worked best for me. Had years of foot and leg cramps with no relief until Mag. Phos. 6X. Hope it works for you too. Can sleep through the night now with no cramps. Let me know if it works for you.

By anon12171 — On May 01, 2008

I have found that when I get a twitching sensation all day in my body, it is from some kind of food or medicine allergy. I would get those crawling sensations every time I took Tylenol, not realizing I was allergic to it. Maybe keep a diary of what you are eating, (taking) and see if there is any correlation as to what you eat and when you get those unpleasant sensations. Hope this helps!


By Garden — On Apr 10, 2008

I am researching the possibility that nocturnal leg cramps may be a warning symptom of heart problems. Anyone have information that either supports or discredits that theory?

By anon7875 — On Feb 04, 2008

I have severe leg cramps. I'm on muscle relaxers..don't help..I drink two quarts of water per day..I apply heat, ice..I was diagnosed with polyneuropathy. I also have charcot marie tooth disease. I don't know if that's why they are so bad. Please help if anyone has suggestions.


By anon4195 — On Oct 07, 2007

Hi guys sorry just popped on this site by accident, I'm a medical student in the UK. It sounds to me like the chaps with the nocturnal cramps could be suffering from a variety of problems. However there is substantial literature to suggest that nearly all forms of nocturnal cramp can be helped greatly by increasing your quinine intake, this acts as a mild vasodilator and seems to do the trick for most folk. So I'd recommend taking some tonic water just before bed, it will take a week or two for you to start seeing the benefits but I'm sure it will at least reduce the duration of the cramps.


By anon3980 — On Sep 26, 2007

i get really bad leg and foot cramps at night too. if you put a bar of soap(anything but ivory) in bed with you by your feet, it WILL help. if you start to get a cramp, put that part of your leg against the bar of soap. you will feel the soap draw out the cramp! it doesn't work every time, some cramps are too severe and come on too fast.

thanks for the tip to try more calcium and potassium. i will try that.

By anon3816 — On Sep 18, 2007

I have suffered with nocturnal leg cramps for more than 20 years. Rarely are they in the calf. They are in the shin, foot and/or toes. The only thing that has ever helped is quinine sulfate which is no longer available for leg cramps. My cramps are major cramps. I would very much like to find some other help to alleviate this painful occurrence most every night.

By anon3743 — On Sep 14, 2007

It may be probable that what you describe as something crawling beneath the skin is "Muscle Fasciculations." Let your doctor know and they can proceed from there. There is plenty of information on the web that you can check out. Hope this helps.

By anon2582 — On Jul 17, 2007

Does night cramp may sometime follow with the pain in hands also starting from elbow till palm.

By Dragonwind — On Jul 06, 2007

I endure, that's all I can say, I endure. nobody can figure it out. no doctor I have been to has any clue.

By anon2269 — On Jul 05, 2007

You have my Complete Understanding ! I have NON-STOP leg twitching....it's not painful, but it appears like little aliens popping around my calves all the time now. It was primarily in my left leg...no it's moved to my right leg as well. I have only been told that it is a mystery neuropathy...I cannot stand it....What do you do?

By Dragonwind — On May 29, 2007

While I do occasionally get some nasty leg cramps at night, I have another issues I can't find help for. The muscles in both of my calves (and only my calves) Twitch constantly, 24 hours a day, non stop.

One doctor told me it was restless leg syndrome but I have none of the symptoms listed for that problem. It's so bad, you can sit and literally see my calves moving like there is some creature under the skin crawling around.

Anyone else have something like this and gotten a diagnosis I could look at?

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