Many health concerns can cause leg cramps, especially at night. This is a guide about remedies for leg cramps.
Is there something you can take to help prevent leg cramps?
By Doris from MI
For several years I had terrible leg cramps almost nightly. After trying all the "folk" remedies and my doctor's suggestions (I'm on several prescription medications and can't use some of the supplements), I discovered that doing some leg stretches before going to bed have eliminated the cramps. All I do is stand on one foot, raise the other leg behind me, grasp that ankle with my hand and pull up until I feel the muscles stretch. Be sure to keep the bent knee perpendicular to the floor. Hold the stretch for 20 - 30 seconds, then do the other leg.
If you have trouble balancing on one foot as I do, just hold onto something to steady yourself.
I have been getting awakened 3 or 4 times a night with cramps at the front of my right leg at the shin bone, then it travels down to my foot and toes. Anyone else have this trouble?
Leg cramps are also caused by dehydration. Be sure you are drinking enough water. Not soda, coffee, or tea. Those do not count. You must drink water.
My dh and I had a bad case each of the "twitches" the other night. Neither his legs nor mine would stop twitching for quite some time, and even getting up and walking around did not help. It made sleeping impossible until finally our legs calmed down.
Is there anything that anyone could recommend. Please be aware that I live in Oz, and what you might find common and everyday in your country may be different or not available in mine. I'd really welcome any suggestions. Thank you for your time and trouble.
Leonie from Warrnambool, Victoria, AUSTRALIA
The fix may depend on what type of problem is causing the twitching.
For me, magnesium tablets and icing daily helps a bit to relax the muscle...but I have a compressed nerve under my calf. This twitching is caused when I feel like my leg is like a winch being pulled tighter, and tighter, and tighter until it explodes!
Other suggestions by my doctor was tonic water (also known as quinine water) nightly, daily doses of major electrolytes (in my case, drinking a 12 oz portion of the lower calorie Gatorade), etc.
In my younger days, I would have muscle cramping that would be severe enough to lead to twitching. Potassium usually helped.
But I would strongly suggest visiting a doctor when possible. There are many different causes of leg twitching and you might need physical therapy to correct them as well.
In my mid fifties, I started to get agonizing leg cramps in my calves and feet at night. I tried different remedies but could not eliminate them. I like to watch Korean Dramas, so I tried eating the Korean staple food, kimchi for fun. I noticed that when I ate a little kimchi, I did not get leg cramps.
Now I just eat two mouthfuls of kimchi each day and I am leg cramp free. Works like a miracle for me. Kimchi is very hot and spicy so you need to eat it, like you would a relish, with something. You can eat it with rice, eggs, meat, fish, tofu, or chicken or whatever, at any time of the day. Kimchi is is usually made with cabbage fermented with hot pepper. It is very high in nutrients, and can be easily absorbed in the stomach. I don't know why it works, it just does.
My legs tend to cramp at night. I tried elevating on a pillow but I always lost it at night. So I started putting my heavier reading pillow, the kind that fits behind you and props you up, under my legs at night. I never lose my pillow, and it has really helped with the leg cramp.
By ann from Climax, NC
After much puzzlement, it occured to me that my night cramps happened most often when I have been eating foods like eggs, tomatoes and proteins (meat, dairy, etc.). I went online and looked for a list of acidic foods and found a website that gives a good idea of what foods are acidic and therefore should be eaten less often. It also lists which foods are more alkaline and therefore should be eaten more of.
I hope that others who suffer night cramps will benefit from a change to their diet, it is helping me. Fair warning, night cramps can be so strong they'll break your legs, so do be careful about what you eat. I'm fortunate to have very dense bones, so mine didn't break, but they would have on someone who's bones are porous. Hard lesson learned, for me.
Source: an online search which led me to this website (there are others): http://rense.com/1.mpicons/acidalka.htm
By Cornelia from OR
This may sound crazy but it actually works. My sister told me she had bad leg cramps that prevented a restful night's sleep. She put a bar of soap, any soap, under the top sheet. That's right, a bar of soap! For whatever reason, it works.
I really couldn't believe it until I tried it myself. You have to do it to believe it but it works! Just sharing for anyone else that has leg cramps.
I suffer form night leg cramps. I have kidney disease which prevents taking potassium or magnesium. I need suggestions please.
Tonic water with Quinine. Doesn't taste great but drink at least a half a mug full every evening.
My legs are so sore from leg cramps at night and my hands also. There are not many meds I can take as I have a very bad stomach, and tons of allergies. I tried Biofreeze rub, ice pack, and heat with no results. I need help. I can't take meds that cause blurred vision as I only have one eye.
By Kay A
Try taking a calcium supplement with magnesium at night. And for a quick remedy for the cramps is drink dill pickle vinegar. It will stop the cramp in less than 3 mins. But the calcium is your best bet for long term.
I'm looking for recipe for a vinegar, garlic, and ginger concoction for leg cramps, any ideas? Thanks for any help.
By Janet from AR
I've had leg cramps since I was a kid ( half a century ago) and find them worse in the summer. A doctor once told me that not keeping hydrated enough can cause a potassium imbalance.
What works for me if I'm getting a run on those charley horses is to increase my water intake; eating a banana and drinking a little OJ also helps.
My age is 65 years, I have been a sports man and athlete my whole life. I regularly used to drink alcohol. I was a regular victim of cramps, sometimes in the back while reversing the car, at times in my tummy while laughing and many a time due to any body movement in any place of my body. Now that I have controlled my intake of alcohol, I still get cramps in my legs especially my calves and feet while I am fast asleep and have to jump out of bed and try different postures to rid the cramps. Please guide me as to how control these painful cramps.
By Sheryar from Quetta, Pakistan
If you are drinking a lot of either tea or coffee daily that contains caffein which are diuretics, then you need to drink more water and less of the caffeinated drinks. In a few days, the leg cramping should cease and you'll sleep better. Otherwise, if still nothing changes after doing this, then check with your doctor to get a blood test to determine if your body is in need of something more that cramping is a symptom of.
What diabetes medicine is the person on that sent in feedback about the power drink by Coke? She had leg cramps. I am having the same thing on Januvia.
Faye from AR
My diabetes medicine, Metformin, depletes my Vitamin B-12 out of my body. It might cause other vitamin deficiencies, that I don't know about. I do have toe and leg cramps when I don't take my Magnesium and Calcium supplements. I'm taking 2 a day of each, once in the morning, once at night. As long as I do, my backaches tend to go away.
My husband has kidney disease and is at about 11 percent right now. He's been suffering from severe leg cramps at night and hurting. He has a history of high potassium so they put him on meds to help keep it under control. I'm just wondering if any body else knows anything on this subject, or has any ideas.
By sensible fromKnox, TN
I had leg cramps nearly all my life, well before I had kidney disease and I buy the homeopathic remedy, Hylands Leg Cramp Remedy, at Walmart. It has a small amount of quinine which relieves leg cramps quickly for me, hope it works for you. I also eat bananas for the potassium.
I have been having painful leg cramps, particularly at night, for years. I had tried just about everything and decided to try drinking apple cider vinegar, about a tablespoonful, just before bed and on rising. The cramps disappeared.
I had been getting a great deal of cramps in my hands and this tip has worked very well for me as . It is very simple, chew 2 Tums, or any antacid that is taken for an acid reflux or upset tum.
How can I stop night leg cramps?
By Sam from Spring Hill, FL
I picked up Hyland's Leg Cramp pills at Walmart and they really work. I think it's the quinine in them. It is homeopathic. If you don't want to take pills you can drink tonic water which also has quinine. (06/20/2010)
Before taking any over the counter stuff, if you are taking prescription meds, consult with your doctor. My internist has me on two fluid pills a day, and told me to take potassium, and magnesium supplements. They help quite a bit, but there are still times that I wake up with leg cramps. I have learned to live with it, and if I am able to get out of bed quick enough, I can walk the cramps off. (06/20/2010)
Keep yourself hydrated with water more than other fluids with caffeine and sugar. My leg cramps always return when my body fluids are low. With the summer heat, it's important to drink more water than usual. (06/20/2010)
Eat a banana everyday. Bananas are full of potassium which helps to stop cramping. (06/21/2010)
By Patty Lynn
I guess I went through about everything the doctors could think of plus everything all my friends and acquaintances had ever heard about and nothing ever worked until my good doctor asked me if I'd ever tried tonic water with quinine? I hadn't and he suggested I might try it.
That night I drank about 8 ounces of just plain tonic water with quinine, and I had no leg or foot cramps at all. The next night I drank just 4 ounces of the tonic water, and again, no cramps. That was about 6 or 7 years ago, and I've not suffered any cramps since I took that first 8 ounces. Now, I only take 4 ounces when I just feel a tiny twinge of a cramp and it never materializes.
I know now that it's the quinine that does the trick, but the tonic water just makes it so much easier to take and it's readily available at almost every grocery store, every 7-Eleven or fast food market around the country. It's certainly cheap enough and it took a really good doctor to let me in on the secret rather than writing another prescription for more medicine that wasn't going to work either.
It may not be for everybody, but it was most definitely for me and for at least another 50 or more people that I've shared the information with since. Just to think about how long I suffered with the excruciating pain of nightly Charley horses or leg and feet cramps almost makes me angry with the entire medical profession. It was just too simple, but it took one good old-fashioned doctor to set me straight. God bless him!
Besides remaining 'healthy hydrated' I found, for me anyway, that when the cramps start I rearrange my hips on the sleeping surface even just an inch or two makes a difference. I also found that any jammie bottoms that are too tight, waist band not right above the hip bones or that bunch up in the thigh area at all make a huge difference. Worse comes to worse I simply get out of bed and pace the floor slowly and quietly cursing for a minute or two and then crawl back in bed after they subside and fall right back to sleep. ;-)
Potassium does make a difference, but do not take a 'supplement' without a doctor's supervision because too much potassium is not a good thing if you have any sort of heart or lung issues. (06/22/2010)
I know this sounds a bit nuts, but It works for many of us. Unwrap a bar of soap, cut it into 4-6 pieces and place just 2 of them under the bottom sheet near your legs. One on each side of the bed. Wrap up the other pieces and in 3-4 months use to change the ones in your bed. It doesn't matter the cost or brand of soap. I usually buy the 3 packages of Ivory. Try it for a month. I think you will be surprised.
GG Vi (06/23/2010)
Get to a Dr. and get checked for diabetes! Diabetes causes dehydration too. I found out I was diabetic and once my sugars were under control, my leg cramps disappeared. Please get checked out! (06/23/2010)
I had charlie horses almost every night from my thighs to my toes! I brought it up at my lupus support group and almost everyone responded at once with the same remedy, malic acid (from apples) and magnesium.
I found the supplements at a local store (some have them already mixed together and some brands are separate). I started taking them and by the 2nd night was over the problem!
If I start to get a cramp any where I immediately take them again for a week or so and they go away for months or years.
For aches, cramps and pains in the legs, take off the wrapper from a bar of soap (any brand) and place it near the bottom of your bed between the top and bottom sheets. It will relieve the problem so you can sleep. I keep a bar in my bed at all times and it works great for me.
There were a couple nights when laying down to sleep I couldn't take a breath in without unbelievable pain in my rib area for whatever reason. I took the bar of soap and placed it near my ribs and it worked for that also. The pain was gone within 2 minutes. It will not hurt to try it, unless, of course, you are allergic to soap or have a medical reason not to.
Source: The "Dr's" TV show
By Suzi Q from Agawam, MA
This has worked for me, also I think drinking more water will also help. (05/10/2010)
I saw this in Dr. Gotts column in the newspaper 3-4 years ago and it sure has worked for me, DH, and daughter. I cut one bar in 3rds or even 1/4ths and use the smaller pieces near my shoulder and both legs, under the bottom sheet. You can also use those hotel soaps. (I change mine about every 3 months.) If you are bothered by any pain, try it. I know some people say if doesn't work, but it does for us and many of our friends. (05/11/2010)
Tonic water works! I keep a bottle next to my bed. (05/13/2010)
I would love a home remedy or supplement suggestion for toe, foot, and leg cramps. I have been getting all of these with increased frequency.
I get leg cramps at night, even though I take calcium. I read that if you put a bar of soap, preferably Dial, under your top sheet near your feet the cramps will go away.