Leg cramps

What to do in a leg cramp? Around 40 percent of Germans repeatedly suffer from painful calf cramps. Mostly athletes, many women, pregnant women and seniors are affected. In many cases occur Leg cramps at night and thereby disturb sleep as well.

How does it come to calf cramp?

Every muscle consists of countless muscle fibers that are connected to fine nerves. Through these nerves, the brain sends a stimulus during a muscle movement, which stimulates the muscle fibers to contract. It comes to the desired muscle tension. Normally, a relaxation phase then occurs. But if an involuntary nerve stimulus occurs, the muscle can not relax - he cramps.

Common causes of calf cramps at a glance

The causes of calf cramps are usually harmless, but calf cramps can also indicate a serious illness. Common causes of calf cramps include:

  • Disorders in the electrolyte balance such as magnesium deficiency
  • Overwork at work and during sport
  • fatigue
  • Long-term use of certain medications
  • Circulatory disorders in the legs
  • Nervous disorders in the muscle fibers
  • Osteoarthritis in the knee joint

Disruptions in the electrolyte balance as a cause

Of a disturbance in the electrolyte balance athletes are particularly often affected. You lose a lot of fluid and many minerals through sweating during exercise. If the mineral storage is not replenished after training, it can lead to a shortage of minerals. Here are just the minerals for the control of muscle fibers of great importance. Because if minerals such as magnesium or potassium are missing, the tensing and relaxing of the muscles no longer works smoothly.

In addition to sweating during exercise, a disturbance in the electrolyte balance can be caused by too low fluid intake, high fluid loss due to diarrhea or vomiting and kidney disease. Also, certain medications such as laxatives may be a cause of leg cramps occurring at night.

A disturbance in the electrolyte balance can cause calf cramps in pregnancy as well as in old age. Especially older people often do not eat well enough and take too little liquid. In addition, the nerve function decreases in old age, which favors the formation of calf cramps.

Since hormonal fluctuations can also affect the electrolyte balance, calf cramps can occur more often during pregnancy. To prevent this, the body should be supplied with enough magnesium, especially in the second half of the pregnancy.

Nerve damage as a cause of calf cramps

Anyone who suffers from calf cramps despite taking magnesium and other minerals should seek medical attention, as nerve damage can also be a cause of calf cramps. Damage to the nerves can be caused mainly by metabolic diseases such as diabetes. In addition, the nerves can also be damaged by alcohol abuse or a kidney dysfunction.

Depending on what type of disease is present, either the nerves in the central nervous system or in the periphery can be damaged. As a result, the stimuli can no longer be transmitted correctly to the musculature and an excessive reaction of the musculature can occur. In addition, it can also happen that certain motor processes can no longer take place.

Muscle diseases as the cause of calf cramps

In rare cases, a disease of the musculature can be the cause of calf cramps. Such diseases are summarized under the collective term myotonia and are characterized by a pathologically prolonged muscle tension. This causes the calf cramp.

The cause of the prolonged muscle tension lies in the ion channels of the muscles. Here, the nerve stimuli are picked up incorrectly or transmitted incorrectly. Often these disorders are hereditary.

Leg cramps: what to do?

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