When Is Leg Cramping Cause for Concern?

Most people experience leg cramping at some point in their lives. A leg cramp is a tightening of leg muscles, usually in the calf, although they can occur in the foot or thigh. Anyone can experience leg cramps, but they are more common in older people and women.

About a third of adults over 60 and half of those over 80 experience leg cramps. Leg cramps are also a common affliction during pregnancy. 

Leg cramps often strike at night, but they are not the same as restless leg syndrome, which is a neurological condition that makes you feel like you need to move your legs and interferes with your sleep.

Most leg cramping is mild and doesn’t require medical attention, but some cases do. Our vascular experts at Suffolk Vascular & Vein Center share important information that can help you figure out how to manage your leg cramps and when to come in for an evaluation.

What causes leg cramps?

A leg cramp, also called a charley horse, can last anywhere from a few seconds to several minutes. The average duration is nine minutes, but your leg can remain tender and painful for several hours after the cramp has subsided.

Often there is no cause for the leg cramp. This type of leg cramping is called idiopathic, which means that the cause is unknown. 

Some causes may include sitting too long in one place or overusing your muscles. Dehydration is also thought to be a factor. Additionally, some medications can increase your risk of developing leg cramps. Some of these medications include diuretics, statins, and Ambien®.

When should you seek medical attention?

While most leg cramps are benign, sometimes leg cramps can be a sign of an underlying health condition such as heart disease or diabetes. If your leg cramps keep you up at night or interfere with your daily activities, you should seek medical care. 

Frequent leg cramping can be a sign of an underlying condition that you may or may not be aware of having. These conditions include:

At Suffolk Vascular & Vein Center, we can accurately diagnose the cause of your leg cramps and recommend effective treatment options. 

Are you experiencing leg cramps? Are they interfering with your life or causing you extreme pain? Call us at Suffolk Vascular & Vein Center with clinics in Port Jefferson, Hauppauge, and Riverhead, New York, for a diagnosis and treatment plan. 

You can also request an appointment online through this website.

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