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Severe Nocturnal Leg Cramps

Posted by Irene Field 
Severe Nocturnal Leg Cramps
May 02, 2018 05:47PM
I have always suffered from leg cramps, but find with age actually let's make that maturity, the intensity of the cramps and even how long they actually last is getting worse. I have cramps in my calves, in the front of my legs, in my toes, in my feet and not just once during the night. Have tried magnesium tablets in the past which didn't help. I just referred to Dr Google and some of the home remedies are soap under the bottom sheet, a teaspoon of yellow mustard when it happens, a glass of tonic water - the quinine content apparently helps. People are saying some of these work, some don't.

Am just wondering if anyone has tried any of these home made remedies or can offer any other suggestions?
Re: Severe Nocturnal Leg Cramps
May 02, 2018 07:44PM
Irene, I too suffer from nocturnal leg cramps although perhaps not as badly or as often as you do. There are a myriad of causes, the most common being dehydration and muscle fatigue. For me an eight hour shift on my feet when I don't drink enough water, then a couple of glasses of wine when I get home creates the perfect storm.

I hadn't heard of the home remedies that you mention but anything is worth trying once. Standing on a very cold floor seems to work for me - I used to have a tile floor which was great, but as I don't have one of those any more I resort to a couple of ice bricks out of the freezer and stand on those for a bit while sipping on a glass of water (cover the bricks with a thin cloth of some sort so that your feet aren't in direct contact). After a few minutes and a wander around the house, I'm ready to go back to bed.

Good luck - let us know if any of the remedies work for you.


Barbara Anne
Re: Severe Nocturnal Leg Cramps
May 02, 2018 08:16PM
I will keep you posted Barbara Anne. Unfortunately the cold floor doesn't work for me any more either. I have had another bout just this morning, so have just had a glass of tonic water. Will start from the most pleasant to the least inspiring - a teaspoon of mustard and in the middle of the night = mmmmm confused smiley
Re: Severe Nocturnal Leg Cramps
May 02, 2018 09:35PM
I have this problem too. When I take magnesium the cramps are less severe but I get a better result if I spray my lower limbs with Magnesium oil. It's worth trying. An Australian product available at most chemists. Good luck!
Re: Severe Nocturnal Leg Cramps
May 02, 2018 09:51PM
Irene, I use the soap under the bottom sheet. It might work to a certain extent but definitely not all the time.
I used to be able to buy the little blocks of camphor and used them the same way as the soap under the sheet. As far as I am aware it is not available for general sale anymore in New Zealand but you could have a word with your local pharmacist. Camphor oil might be an alternative, again, I would discuss it with your pharmacist. Some products such as Tiger Balm contain a certain amount of it.
I agree it is darned painful and very distressing, as it tends to hit you in your sleep or when you are sleepy. At the moment I have a knee that requires surgery and lying in bed with it is second only to the pain of walking on hard floor tiles or concrete. That puts so much pressure on the good leg, which is the one most affected by cramps. As soon as I wake I try not to stretch because I know it will cause calf cramps. Especially as I am not able to just leap out of bed.
I don't want to be an alarmist, but is it worse after you have had long haul flights?
Re: Severe Nocturnal Leg Cramps
May 02, 2018 10:40PM
Thanks Marnie. I haven't been on a 'long haul' flight since September, and only had trans tasman ones since then - but with no effect. If you have tried the soap and it worked, I will give that a go tonight. And I have had a couple of glasses of tonic water today, and will have one at bedtime.And I know exactly what you mean about stretching!!
Do you have a date for your surgery Marnie?
Re: Severe Nocturnal Leg Cramps
May 03, 2018 12:12AM
Best of luck, Irene. Regarding the surgery, it's a case of how long is a piece of string? I seem to be backwards and forwards between scans, GP and hospital outpatient visits. I live in hope.
It took me a minute to understand the mention of tonic water....quinine?
Re: Severe Nocturnal Leg Cramps
May 03, 2018 03:32PM
I too suffer from this, my Dr gave me 3 quinine pills. Worked a treat, I have it back again after 18 months but only mildly, so did work for quite a while.
Re: Severe Nocturnal Leg Cramps
May 03, 2018 04:06PM
Well I had another bout last night, and once again both legs. I had placed a soap under the sheet, had a glass of tonic water (plus several during the day) and even up at 1am to down a teaspoon of mustard - and whilst the remedies didn't appear to work, I did finally manage to get to sleep around 2am with no further cramps..

Lyn interesting about Quinine tablets, which I have never heard of. I just googled about buying online, but after reading this NZ Herald article I think I will see my Doctor first rather than buying over the counter! But am going to give them a go.

It's terrible being a bad sleeper without cramps thrown into the mix smiling smiley
Re: Severe Nocturnal Leg Cramps
May 03, 2018 05:09PM
That sounds miserable, Irene. The only time I've had this issue was when I was pregnant. I was craving, and therefore drinking, a lot of milk, and my obstetrician theorised I'd given myself a calcium/magnesium imbalance. It wasn't so much about not enough of one, which is why the magnesium supplements I initially tried didn't work, but that they were out of whack with each other. I took a Blackmores Calcium/Magnesium supplement and that did seem to help get things back in line, along with trying to lay off the milk addiction eye rolling smiley

I hope you find some relief.. there's not a lot worse than long term broken sleep
Re: Severe Nocturnal Leg Cramps
May 03, 2018 05:47PM
I, too, have bad cramp problems. Many years ago my Dr gave me quinine tablets, and boy, did they get rid of the cramp almost immediately. Unfortunately I suffered bad side effects from them so they are now on my "allergic to" list.

My Dr suggested most of the above options including tonic water (didn't mention the gin). The best thing that works for me are magnesium tablets, let 4 dissolve on my tongue each night before bed. Can't think of the name offhand, but are available at Health food shops, are in a white container with blue writing, and have the number 8 on the label.

Hop you find a remedy before too much longer.
Re: Severe Nocturnal Leg Cramps
May 06, 2018 08:48PM
Thankfully I'm not afflicted with leg cramps but my daughter was and while she was in hospital they used the ice-pack method on the bottom of her feet. I have a friend who also suffers badly from night cramps and she uses magnesium powder before going to bed. Apparently, it absorbs into the system quicker than tablets and taking it before bed steals a march on the cramps even beginning. Could be worth a try.
Re: Severe Nocturnal Leg Cramps
May 06, 2018 09:17PM
I had mild leg and foot cramps for several years and magnesium supplementation made no difference. A few months ago I started classes in Yin yoga and have not had any cramps since then. No idea if there is any connection, as Yin works on connective tissue, mainly in the torso and thighs, but it could be worth a try.
Re: Severe Nocturnal Leg Cramps
May 07, 2018 03:44AM
After three consecutive nights of severe cramps, I did what you shouldn’t do and took one of hubby’s Sodium Diclofenac tablets, which he has prescribed for muscular back pain. It did the trick. A peaceful couple of nights sleep now (apart from ‘old lady’s bladder’ smiling bouncing smiley
Re: Severe Nocturnal Leg Cramps
May 07, 2018 10:23PM
Irene, I am glad it worked for you, you wouldn't be the first one to do something like that when you are desperate for relief.
I have Sodium Diclofenac prescribed for me, too and I dislike taking it ( I take it only once a day instead of the prescribed twice), I am one of those who would rather not take anything smiling smiley if I could get away with it. I am terrified it will end up having an effect on my kidneys and liver. I already have regular liver function tests but that's another story.
My GP says it won't damage the liver, the surgeon says it can do so. I think I am just piggy in the middle. However, I got sidetracked and my ramble became the New York marathon. Last night I had some of the worst leg cramps I have felt in a long time.
Re: Severe Nocturnal Leg Cramps
May 08, 2018 04:49PM
Marnie, I hope you had a better night last night. I haven't had any more attacks (touch wood), but I still have the bar of soap (one of the round ones you get from a hotel, so not a large size) under the sheet - and maybe that's doing the trick. Shall see.
Like you I hate taking medication, and with age there seems to be more medicine bottles making an appearance and outstaying their welcome!
Re: Severe Nocturnal Leg Cramps
May 08, 2018 05:10PM
A bit off topic, but did you know that if you have an insect bite (flea, sandfly, mosquito, etc. but NOT bee or wasp) if you put a bit of your spit on it and rub it well with a bar of soap, it stops the itch.
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