You may have had the painful experience of waking up in the night with severe pain in your foot or calf. A muscle cramp comes on quickly and unexpectedly and is extremely painful. Sometimes muscles will cramp up after a strenuous run.
A muscle cramp is an involuntary contraction of one or more muscles. Even though the pain is severe, muscle cramps are generally harmless.
What Causes Foot Cramps?
Sudden muscle contractions are commonly caused by overuse after lengthy periods of exercising or work. They appear even more frequently in hot weather. Holding your foot or leg in one position for too long can also bring on a cramp as can dehydration.
Muscle cramps may also signal other potentially serious medical conditions including:
Mineral depletion such as low levels of potassium, calcium or magnesium. Individuals taking high blood pressure medication that contains a diuretic are at risk of losing these vital minerals.
An inadequate blood supply caused by narrowing of the arteries. This can restrict the blood supply to your lower extremities and cause foot and leg cramps, particularly during exercise. The contraction usually eases with resting.
Nerve compression in the spine, called lumbar stenosis, can cause leg cramps that worsen as you walk. Individuals experiencing pain from nerve compression may find relief by walking while bending slightly forward.
Home Remedies Can Ease the Pain of Foot and Leg Cramps
At Abramov's Comprehensive Foot Care, we recommend trying one or more of the following to ease your cramp as soon as it starts:
- Rub the muscle gently while stretching so it will relax.
- Apply a warm towel or heating pad to ease tight muscles, or let warm water from a shower or bath flow directly onto the muscle.
- Sometimes the opposite approach is helpful - massage the muscle with ice to relieve pain.
- For a calf cramp, stand and put your weight on that leg with the knee bent slightly. A similar method is to sit on the floor with your leg extended and stretch your calf by pulling your toes toward your head.
Cramping pain that doesn't go away or that triggers muscle weakness, redness or swelling needs medical care, so call us right away if you observe these symptoms.
Avoid Foot Cramps With Smart Preventive Steps
- Stay well hydrated. Fluids keep muscle cells hydrated and help them contract and relax. Replenish fluids both during and after exercise, especially in hot weather.
- Avoid nighttime cramps with a gentle stretch before bedtime.
- Talk to your doctor about the possibility that your body is depleted of certain minerals. Eating a banana every day is a simple way to replace potassium.
Let Us Know if Your Cramps Continue After Home Care
Dr. Boris Abramov and Dr. Tatyana Abramova, doctors of podiatric medicine, have the right experience to deal with persistent foot cramps and any other type of foot and ankle pain. Call us today at 443-872-7052 for an appointment at our Pikesville, Maryland office. You can also request an appointment at the website. Don't let cramping disturb your sleep or workouts - call us today!