Lying down on the couch or bed when the lower leg seizes with intense sensations and pain that doesn’t stop, and the muscle could be hard to the touch. When trying to move the leg, it feels paralyzed. Nocturnal leg cramps, called muscle spasms or Charley horses, occur when one or more leg muscles tighten involuntarily. Individuals can be awake or asleep when a leg cramp strikes. Chiropractic treatment, decompression, and massage therapies can help relieve symptoms, stretch and relax the muscles, and restore function and health.
Table of Contents
Nocturnal leg cramps most often affect the gastrocnemius/calf muscle. However, they can also affect the muscles in the front of the thigh/quadriceps and the back of the thigh/hamstrings.
There are no known exact cause/s, making most cases idiopathic. However, there are known factors that can increase the risk. These can include:
Leg cramps at night are unlikely a sign of a more serious medical condition, but they are associated with the following conditions:
Rehabilitation with chiropractic, massage, and physical therapy depends on the severity of the injury and condition. A chiropractic treatment plan can include the following:
At-home therapy can include:
Allen, Richard E, and Karl A Kirby. “Nocturnal leg cramps.” American family physician vol. 86,4 (2012): 350-5.
Butler, J V et al. “Nocturnal leg cramps in older people.” Postgraduate medical journal vol. 78,924 (2002): 596-8. doi:10.1136/pmj.78.924.596
Garrison, Scott R et al. “Magnesium for skeletal muscle cramps.” The Cochrane Database of systematic reviews vol. 2012,9 CD009402. Sep 12, 2012, doi:10.1002/14651858.CD009402.pub2
Giuffre BA, Black AC, Jeanmonod R. Anatomy, Sciatic Nerve. [Updated 2023 May 4]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2023 Jan-. Available from: www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK482431/
Handa, Junichi, et al. “Nocturnal Leg Cramps and Lumbar Spinal Stenosis: A Cross-Sectional Study in the Community.” International Journal of general medicine vol. 15 7985-7993. Nov 1 2022, doi:10.2147/IJGM.S383425
Hsu D, Chang KV. Gastrocnemius Strain. [Updated 2022 Aug 22]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2023 Jan-. Available from: www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK534766/
Mayo Clinic Staff. (2019). Night leg cramps. mayoclinic.org/symptoms/night-leg-cramps/basics/causes/sym-20050813
Monderer, Renee S et al. “Nocturnal leg cramps.” Current Neurology and Neuroscience report vol. 10,1 (2010): 53-9. doi:10.1007/s11910-009-0079-5
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