Do you suffer from leg cramps? This painful condition can clear up after a few seconds or may persist and recur, making it hard to stand, walk or even sleep comfortably. If leg cramps are disrupting your day-to-day life, it’s time to identify the cause(s) and get relief with the help of our vein specialists in Downtown Macon and Warner Robins, GA.
What’s Causing Your Leg Cramps?
Leg cramps may result from genetic conditions, lifestyle habits, medications or even your stage of life. Some common causes of leg cramps have simple and straightforward remedies to correct vexing medical conditions causing persistent pain. Interestingly, one of the most common of these is vein disease. These conditions include:
- vascular disease
- vein disease
- lymphedema (leg swelling)
- deep vein thrombosis (DVT)
- fitness and dehydration
Peripheral arterial disease results in low blood flow to the limbs and often affects the legs. You may feel pain or cramping in your muscles when you walk or experience sensations of coldness, numbness or weakness. Leg pain from vascular disease is called claudication when it occurs with exercise and may make it difficult to perform normal physical activities. If the pain occurs with rest, it is called ‘rest pain’ and is much more worrisome and indicates the need for immediate consultation with a vascular specialist.
Smoking, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol are all risk factors for this condition, so one of the best ways to reduce pain is to adopt healthier lifestyle habits. If you already have claudication, it is time to seek medical evaluation for the underlying source of the problem to determine if intervention is indicated. In addition to lifestyle changes, other conservative care includes an exercise program.
Leg cramps at night are one of the common symptoms of varicose veins. Leg heaviness, swelling, discomfort, and pain are other symptoms of varicose veins. If you’re experiencing leg cramps at night or leg pain of any kind, seek an evaluation with a vein specialist to determine the underlying cause. Many patients report an immediate improvement in the frequency and severity of their night leg cramps when their venous disease is treated.
Lymphedema and Leg Pain
Lymphedema may be primary or secondary, resulting from either genetics or other medical conditions. Swelling may occur in one or both legs and result in cramps when the body’s lymphatic system is unable to properly move fluid out of tissues. You may have a limited range of motion or experience aching, tingling or heaviness in your legs. To encourage the movement of fluid, try compression socks or stockings, or consult with one of our lymphedema specialists about lymphedema treatment options available at Vein Specialists of the South. We are uniquely qualified to provide evaluation and care for both vein and lymphatic disease, which often co-exist.
DVT and Leg Cramps
Deep vein thrombosis, or DVT, occurs when a blood clot blocks blood flow in the deep vein. DVT may develop after a surgery or a long period of inactivity, such as recovering from a serious injury. Some people experience sudden swelling and/or have pain in the calf muscles (sometimes mistaken for muscle cramps called a “Charlie Horse”). Because DVT can be life-threatening, it should be treated as soon as possible. Doctors may prescribe blood thinners or use a procedure called isolated thrombolysis to quickly remove the clot.
Fitness and Dehydration
Intense exercise can cause leg cramps; this is caused by one or more of the following:
- muscle overuse
- electrolyte imbalance
Using the same muscles repeatedly for long periods of time causes fatigue. This may lead to cramping, and exercising in hot weather increases the risk of dehydration. When you don’t drink enough water, the balance of fluids inside and outside your cells is thrown off. This can prompt abnormal contractions felt as leg cramps. Prevent problems by taking water breaks during exercise and rehydrate following workouts. Fitness experts also recommend increasing your potassium intake by eating bananas when you train or compete to help prevent leg cramps.
Certain medications list leg cramps as a side effect. These medications include:
- osteoporosis treatments
- asthma treatments
Other medications, including hormone replacement and birth control pills, may increase your risk of developing conditions like DVT. If you’re taking one of these medications and experience pain in your legs, speak with your doctor. You may also schedule an appointment at Vein Specialists of the South for expert leg specialist care.
Pregnancy and Leg Cramps
Many women experience leg cramps and varicose veins during pregnancy, especially during the second or third trimester. Although it’s not clear why this happens, the pain could be a result of changes in blood flow. This can be caused by hormonal changes or increased magnesium and potassium deficiency during pregnancy. Cramps are often experienced at night, but taking a warm bath before bed can help ease discomfort. Eating more magnesium- and potassium-rich plant foods, performing stretches and taking walks may also reduce leg pain. Expectant mothers are also encouraged to hydrate more frequently. In addition to improving health for mother and baby, it helps reduce the risk of leg cramps. Remember to elevate your legs every evening to reduce swelling and discomfort while also reducing the risk of varicose veins and blood clots.
Help for Leg Cramps in Central GA
Since 1997, Vein Specialists of the South has been providing venous disease evaluations and treatments to the Central Georgia community. Our minimally invasive treatment options are provided by specialists who understand the discomfort you’re experiencing with leg cramps, pain, and heaviness. Contact us today, and we’ll get to the bottom of what’s causing your pain and recommend the best treatment options to help restore your quality of life.