My Weekly Special
TOP TIPS ON LEG CRAMPS
What can you do to ward of f these episodes of muscular pain?
◆ Leg cramps are both common and extremely painful. In fact I very clearly remember waking up yelping in pain due to a sudden cramp!
◆ These severe pains are due to an involuntar y contraction of a muscle, most commonly the calf, though it can af fect other par ts of the leg.
◆ Although painful, cramp doesn’t have any long term complications and are generally short lived, though the muscle may feel sore for as much as a day or so afterwards.
◆ Leg cramps can occur at any time, but most often at night.
◆ There is no known cause but can be related to exercise, pregnancy, or particular medications such as diuretics, or to liver disease.
◆ Quinine can be prescribed for night cramp, however studies have shown it decreases night cramps by only 20%.
◆ Quinine is usually prescribed only after reversible underlying causes of cramp have been ruled out. Used for a trial period of four weeks, if there is no benefit it should be stopped.
◆ However, if it is helpful the benefits should be reviewed ever y three months as long term use of quinine is associated with changes to the hear t rhythm, and rarely, with a potentially dangerous drop in blood platelets.
◆ There is an alternative to quinine – naftidrofuryl, which may be appropriate for you instead.
◆ To tr y and prevent cramps it’s impor tant that to drink plenty of fluids to avoid getting dehydrated, which can trigger cramps.
◆ Regular calf stretching exercise is also helpful. Stand with the front of your feet on a step and your heels hanging off the edge. Gently and slowly lower your heels so they fall below the edge of the step. Hold for a few seconds before lifting and repeating.