Leg pain lying night
by Nathan Wei, MD, FACP, FACR
Nathan Wei is a nationally known board-certified rheumatologist and author of the Second Opinion Arthritis Treatment Kit. It's available exclusively at this website... not available in stores.
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An assortment of conditions cause leg pain at night.
70% of older adults experience benign nocturnal leg cramps. Leg cramps occur when an involuntary contraction of the calf muscle causes a spasm. Pain can be mild to severe. Some people have frequent episodes while others have occasional ones. The cause of benign leg cramps is unknown. However, dehydration may play a role and leg cramps can be a side effect of different medications. Underlying medical problems, such as thyroid disease, may also contribute to the problem.
These usually awaken the sufferer with a cramp-like pain in the calf. This is often referred to as a "charley-horse." The cramp lasts a few seconds or minutes and may reoccur during the night. Some bouts of leg cramps occur as isolated occurrences while some people may regularly have leg cramps. They commonly occur with strenuous exercise or when circulation is cut off from sitting awkwardly. Most cramps last only a few seconds, and at most a few minutes. Leg cramps are particularly common in pregnant women and the elderly.
Some of the following remedies can help relieve leg cramps:
- Drink six to eight glasses of water daily.
- Stretch calves regularly throughout the day and again at night.
- While lying in bed, gently pull toes toward knees. Do not point feet down.
- Sleep under loose covers that make it less likely to point your toes.
- Place a pillow at the end of the bed to prop up feet.
- Lie on the stomach with feet hooked over the edge of the bed.
To relieve a cramp, straighten the leg and flex foot toward your head, or grab the toes and pull them towards you. Massage the muscles that are in spasm or apply heat or cold to ease pain and promote muscle relaxation.
Low back pain and leg pain at night that is not relieved by lying down may be caused by a tumor in the cauda equina (the roots of the spinal nerves controlling sensation into the legs), or a cancer that has spread to the spine from the prostate, breasts, or lungs. The risk factors for the spread of cancer to the lower back include a history of smoking, sudden weight loss, and age over 50.
Disk herniation is a disorder in which a spinal disk begins to bulge outward between the vertebrae. Herniated or ruptured disks are a common cause of chronic low back pain in adults. The pain from herniated disc is referred to as sciatica. Sciatica rarely causes leg pain at night... but it may.
Back and leg pain that is out of proportion to a minor injury, or that is unusually prolonged, may be associated with a somatoform disorder or other psychiatric disturbance.
Fibromyalgia is another cause of leg pain at night. Generally, though, there is pain involving other areas in addition to the leg.
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Second Opinion Arthritis Treatment Kit
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