Cramps

What are cramps? 

Leg cramps, also known as night leg cramps, are fairly common and occur mostly at night. Leg cramps are characterised by a sudden movement in the leg muscles, causing painful, involuntary contractions to occur. They can last from a few seconds up to a few minutes.

Low levels of certain minerals such as electrolytes and some medications, have also been cited as a cause of leg cramps. Some people suffer from chronic leg cramps and unfortunately, there is no definite cure at this stage. These people can take Crampeze long term to help combat these cramps.

Symptoms

The symptoms of a muscle cramp include:

  • Sudden uncontrollable and painful spasms in the muscle
  • Muscle twitching
  • Excruciating deep muscle pain in the calf
  • Tightness of the calf and hardening of the muscle

A cramp can reoccur several times before it goes away. Cramps are common at night and generally occur in the calf muscles and feet.

Why do cramps occur?

The exact cause of muscle cramps is not known, but there are some risk factors that include:  

  • Muscle injury
  • Muscle fatigue
  • Poor diet and lifestyle
  • Low Magnesium levels or Magnesium deficiency
  • Dehydration
  • Physical overexertion
  • Physical exertion of cold muscles
  • Some medications
  • Excessive perspiration

Lifestyle Tips to Reduce Cramps

There are some suggested tips to help alleviate night time leg cramps that can be incorporated into your daily routine:

  • Drink plenty of water during the day
  • Daily calf stretches
  • Trying not to sit with your legs crossed
  • Take a warm bath before going to bed
  • Indulge in regular massages
  • Modify diet to include more potassium based foods

Foods Rich in Magnesium

Magnesium is absorbed by the body through a diverse range of foods in our diet. Each food product has a varied concentration of Magnesium in it, and thus it is important to maximise your daily intake by including magnesium-rich foods in your diet. This can include:

  • Leafy green vegetables such as spinach
  • Nuts and Seeds: Pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, brazil nuts, almonds, cashews, pine nuts, peanuts, pecans and walnuts
  • Fish: Mackerel
  • Beans and Lentils: Soy beans, white beans, french beans, black-eyed peas, kidney beans, chickpeas, lentils, pinto beans
  • Grains: Brown rice, quinoa, bulgur, wheat germ, buckwheat,  millet, whole wheat pasta, barley and oats
  • Dried Fruit: Figs, prunes, apricots, dates, and raisins
  • Others: Avocados, bananas, dark chocolate, seaweeds and tofu

Cramp Facts

  • Leg cramps are reported in up to 60% of adults and 7% of children. Up to 20% of people have symptoms every day1
  • About 1 in 3 people over the age of 60, and about half of people over the age of 80, experience regular leg cramps2
  • Approximately 50% of those over 55 suffer nocturnal leg cramping, significantly more people experiencing nocturnal leg pain3
  • 40% of people who suffer from leg cramps have cramps at least three times per week4

References: 
Allen RE, Kirby KA. Nocturnal leg cramps. Am Fam Physician 2012;86:350–5. [PubMed] http://www.patient.co.uk/health/cramps-in-the-leg
http://www.backinmotion.com.au/news/article/how-to-combat-night-pains-and-cramps  Adrian Quinn – Physiotherapist and Director, Back In Motion Camberwell How to combat night pains and cramps Published: 19 March 2014
http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/180160.php by Christian Nordqvist What are leg cramps? What causes leg cramps? Last updated: 8 September 2014

Crampeze pregnancy survey 2014 – sample size 517 respondents

Pregnancy & Leg Cramps

Did you know that leg cramps are experienced in up to 30% of pregnancies?

  • Leg cramps affect approximately 100,000+ Australian women per year
  • For 67.8% of these women, muscular cramping occurs in the 3rd trimester, while 30.7% also experience cramps in the 2nd trimester. For 62.9% the cramping becomes worse as they progress through the pregnancy
  • The primary age segment that experiences cramping while pregnant is 25-34 year old women
  • 85% of women who suffer from muscular cramps while pregnant, experience them in the later half of the day/night. They are most apparent at night, effecting 76.8% of women in their sleep
  • On average, most pregnant women who experience leg cramps experience them three times a week. 80% of cramps are experienced in the calf, while 19.5% are experienced in the thighs
  • Muscular cramps usually dissipate once the baby is born, however for 20% of cramp sufferers, cramps continue to strike once the baby is born
  • Over half (52.7%) of pregnant women already take a once a day multi-vitamin throughout their pregnancy5

Why are muscular cramps so common in pregnancy?

There are many causes of leg cramps and among them are:

  • Increased blood volume, nutrient deficiencies
  • Mineral imbalances
  • Fluid retention
  • Poor circulation
  • High blood pressure
  • Growing baby placing more pressure on blood vessels

Certain foods may make cramps worse; including nutrient-poor fried or processed foods high in salt and caffeine, which may cause dehydration.