An insight into cramps in feet and legs, occurring at night, foot arch cramps, toe cramps, home remedies as well as treatment
Cramps in Feet and Legs
Doctors say that cramps in feet are a very common and harmless condition where muscles in your leg may suddenly be tight and painful.
It happens mostly in calf muscles, although it is also possible to happen to any other part of your leg, including your feet and thighs.
After the cramping has passed, you might experience pain and tenderness in your leg for hours.
It has also been established that about three out of four cases occur at night during sleep.
What causes leg cramps?
Leg cramps may happen for no particular reason, known as idiopathic leg cramps, or even as a complication of having a health condition, known as secondary leg cramps.
There are various causes of secondary leg cramps which include:
- some types of medication, like statins
During a cramp, your muscles contract, leading to pain in your leg. This is known as a spasm, and you might not even be in a position to control the affected muscle.
The cramp might also last from some seconds to about 20 minutes. When the spasm passes, you then control your affected leg muscle again.
When to see your Doctor
Speak to your doctor if your cramps in feet affects your quality of life; for instance, if you experiencing frequent leg cramps or if they interfere with your sleep.
Your doctor may ask about your symptoms and then examine your legs. She might also examine your other signs, such as experiencing some numbness, which is said to be an indication which you have secondary leg cramps that are caused by an underlying condition.
In this particular case, you might require further tests, such as blood tests so as to rule out several other conditions.
Foot Cramps at Night
Nocturnal cramps in feet are pains which happen in legs during the night. They usually lead to awakenings, but they may also happen while you are awake at night when you are not active.
These particular cramps mostly occur in the calf muscles but is also said to be able to in the thighs. Nocturnal leg cramps are painful and leads to affected muscles feeling tight or even knotted. Symptoms might last up to several minutes.
There can also be muscle soreness after the cramp disappears. Nocturnal leg cramps are common in adults who are above age 50, but they also do happen in younger children. Both men and women appear to be equally affected.
Who gets nocturnal cramps in feet?
Anyone can get the cramps. But, they are mostly found often in people who are middle-aged or even older.
Are nocturnal leg cramps in feet similar to restless legs syndrome?
While both types of leg disturbances happen at night, or at rest, restless leg syndrome does not lead to pain or even cramping. Restless legs syndrome is more of a discomfort and a crawling sensation, which leads to a desire to move legs.
While moving, the restlessness is then relieved, but the discomfort returns when movement eventually stops. This does not occur with the nocturnal leg cramps where tightened muscle is required to be actively stretched out for some amount of relief.
What causes nocturnal cramps in feet at night?
The cause of nocturnal cramps in feet is mostly unknown, but some of the cases have been linked to:
- Sitting for longer periods
- Over-exertion of muscles
- Standing on concrete floors
Doctors have also linked nocturnal leg cramps to some medical conditions and medications. Including:
- Dehydration imbalances
- Neuromuscular disorders
- Structural disorders
- Endocrine disorders
- Diuretics, beta agonists
Foot Arch Cramps
Your arch is comprised of tarsal as well as the metatarsal bones, which are also with supporting ligaments as well as tendons. By touching the top of any of your toes and tracing the bone down to the center of your foot. Your fingers eventually traces a bone known as metatarsal.
Attached to your toe bones, these five metatarsal bones assists in standing, walking, walking and also running by distributing your weight evenly so as to keep you balanced. Connected to your metatarsals, near the back of your foot, are other seven tarsal bones. Together, they form your arch.
An important structure that is connected to your arch is your posterior tibialis tendon. This muscle usually originates behind your shin bone, running inside your ankle, and attaching itself to several of your tarsal bones within your arch.
This tendon is responsible for maintenance of a healthy, supportive arch during your everyday activities.
There are several causes of cramps in feet and toes, we are going at just a few as listed below;
- Wearing the Wrong Kind of Shoes
More often than not, toe cramps are due to wearing wrong kind of shoes. If your shoes are very much tight, they might cut off the blood circulation to your toes, thus leading to causing toe cramps. So, before buying of any footwear, ensure that they fit properly and aren’t very tight on your toes. Sometimes, simply wearing of the wrong type of shoe might trigger spasms. For instance, if you’re running, ensure that you invest in a good pair of sports shoes.
- Exercising Without a Warm-Up
If happen to be a frequent runner, you strain your feet during an intense run, make sure that your toe muscles don’t bear the brunt. Cramps in feet can also happen when you’re suddenly active after some period of time, like the preseason or even post-surgery.
To prevent this from happening, always stretch and then warm up before going for a run or even performing any strenuous exercises.
Stretching usually extends the muscle fibers, thus letting them contract better during such a movement. Developing a regular stretching routine is the best thing which can be done so as to keep your feet happy.
- Overexerting the Toe Muscles
You may also end up straining your toe muscles even when you’re not engaging in heavy-duty exercises. Performing activities such as heavy lifting and biking can also lead to cramps in feet. The overexertion on your toe muscles causes poor circulation, which then leads to spasms.
- Wrong Posture While Sleeping
When you’re lying down on your back, the muscles that are in your leg shorten. The foot naturally points downward, thus stimulating the nerves and leading to a very painful cramp.
In fact, about 63 percent of adults have nocturnal leg spasms, some of which reach the toes. Nocturnal cramps are also said to cause insomnia and exhaustion. Groups facing an increased risk of the nighttime spasms include pregnant women as well as the elderly.
Even if you’ve warmed up and worn the right running shoes, you might also experience cramps in feet. When going without water for longer periods of time, your blood circulation is adversely affected. And poor circulation, as discussed earlier, could lead to feet cramps.
It’s very crucial that you remain hydrated not just when you’re exercising. Dehydration is also said to lead to upset of the balance of minerals and salts in your blood, causing painful cramps.
Cramps in Feet While Sleeping
The general reason for cramps in feet is decreased circulation in foot. The drop in oxygen to foot muscles causes them to spasm, sometimes it can happen so painfully. Foot cramping happen at any age. Modern lifestyles with a lack of proper exercise is also blamed for foot cramps, but even athletes suffer from foot cramps.
Electrolytic imbalance is also a major factor in cramps in feet. There must be a proper balance in the salts of sodium, calcium and also magnesium. A dip in potassium is the main culprit for stopping of proper electrical signals from being transmitted to your muscles.
Lack of hydration is also a reason for foot cramps. With athletes, the loss of potassium comes about partly through dehydration and also sweating. Sports drinks are designed to assist in keeping up hydration and electrolytes in the athletes.
For the person, to have uninterrupted sleep, proper hydration should do the job as loss of salts through sweating would not be an issue.
Overexertion of foot muscles, leading to inadequate circulation and potassium levels, might also be the culprit. If you have walked an unusual amount before sleep, the condition might also happen. The circulation problem might also plague those who have specific health issues, like diabetics.
Cramps in Feet and Hands
Cramps can happen in any muscle of the body, which includes the hands and feet. Cramps in your feet usually happen abruptly and develop much quickly. The experience of having them range from an irritating inconvenience to extremely painful situation.
There are many potential causes of hand and foot cramps, ranging from benign to symptoms of the serious disease.
Hand and foot cramps are involuntary contractions of the muscles, during which muscles contract more tightly than you could contract them.
They usually happen abruptly and might be very painful. The muscle which is cramping may visibly bulge under skin and when touched, it can feel rigid. Cramps are associated with muscle spasms.
How to Stop Toe Cramps
Most of the people can successfully treat cramps in feet with the at-home remedies some of which are listed below. However, if you find that your cramps in feet aren’t disappearing, talk to your doctor.
- Stretch them
Often, regular stretching and exercises can assist you to avoid cramps in feet. The American Orthopaedic Foot & Ankle Society recommends that you do the following exercises for keeping your feet flexible:
- Toe raise. Raise your heel off the ground so that only your toes and the ball of your foot touch the floor. Hold for a period of about 5 seconds, lower, and repeat the procedure for about 10 times.
- Toe point. Flex your foot so that your big toe appears like it’s pointing in one direction. Hold for a period of about 5 seconds and repeat the procedure for about 10 times.
- Toe and towel curl. Bend all of your toes as if you’re tucking them under your foot. Hold for about 5 seconds. You can also put a towel on the ground and use only your toes to grab it.
- Marble pickup. Place 20 marbles on floor. One at a time, pick them up and place them in a bowl by use of only your toes.
- Sand walking. If you’re lucky enough to get to the beach, walking barefoot in sand can assist to massage and strengthen the muscles in your feet and also the toes.
- Use heat or ice
Heat assists in tightening of the muscles to relax. Apply a warm towel or even a heating pad to cramped toe. You may also soak your foot in warm water.
Ice assists with pain relief. Gently massage your toe by use of a cold pack or ice wrapped in a towel. Never put ice directly on skin.
- Up your electrolyte intake
Sweating makes your body to release some salt and minerals, especially calcium, potassium, and magnesium. Some medications, like diuretics, also leads to your body to lose minerals. If you’re not getting the daily recommended levels of calcium, potassium, and magnesium, these foods can give you a boost:
- Yogurt and cheese are all high in calcium
- spinach and broccoli are also said to be a good sources of potassium and magnesium
- almonds are high in magnesium
- bananas are high in potassium and great before any workout
Common causes of toe cramps
Dehydration and overexertion are said to be the common causes of cramps during an exercise. When you’re dehydrated, electrolyte levels that is in your body drop, which can cause muscle cramps.
As people get older, they lose a lot of muscle mass. The remaining muscle has to work harder. Starting in your 40s, if you’re not regularly active, muscles might get stressed easily, causing cramps.
Muscle cramps are common in people who are diabetic or have liver disease. People with diabetes are also said to be at a higher risk for peripheral neuropathy, which is a condition that leads to damage to nerves in your fingers and toes.
When the nerves don’t function as required, you may experience pain and cramps in feet. If your liver isn’t working properly, it can’t filter toxins from the blood. The buildup of toxins leads to muscle cramps and spasms.
For some people, some medications leads to muscle cramps. These includes diuretics and cholesterol-lowering medications, like nicotinic acid.
Having little sodium, potassium or magnesium in your body are the source of your cramps. These particular minerals are all crucial for muscle and nerve function and blood pressure.
Your toes cramp for several reasons, but the majority aren’t serious. Simple solutions which can be done at home can go a long way in relieving of the cramps in feet.
- Causes of Hand & Foot Cramps: https://healthfully.com/causes-hand-foot-cramps-5107920.html
- What Are the Causes of Foot Cramps While Sleeping: https://www.livestrong.com/article/17812-causes-foot-cramps-sleeping/
- What Causes Toe Cramps? 7 Possible Reasons: https://www.curejoy.com/content/what-causes-toe-cramps/
- The Best Remedies for Toe Cramps: https://www.healthline.com/health/best-remedies-toe-cramps
- Leg cramps: https://www.nhsinform.scot/illnesses-and-conditions/muscle-bone-and-joints/conditions/leg-cramps
- Leg Cramps at Night: https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/14170-leg-cramps-at-night