Cramps (Legs)

Nocturnal leg cramps

Jack is a 60 year old gentleman who experiences sudden pain in his leg muscles at night. They are in the calves of his legs. They wake him up. Often they go away on their own.

Jack is experiencing nocturnal leg cramps. They occur suddenly at night. There are no known causes. But there are what is called associated conditions. Pregnant women can experience it. It increases with age. They might be a sign of underlying medical problem of effect of one your medications. It is confused with restless legs syndrome (RLS) but this is different.

Other medical conditions associated with nocturnal leg cramps are diabetes, vascular problems in the legs (claudication), medications such as cholesterol or blood pressure medications, spine disease, alcohol, kidney problems, dehydration to name a few. This is why it is important to talk to your doctor about it to be checked out. Most often it is benign condition.


  • Treatment depends on the underlying condition causing cramps. Talk to your doctor if you experience leg cramps.
  • However, if it is an isolated nocturnal leg cramp, quinine used to be effective but due to side effects it was taken off.
  • One study in 2002 May journal of Medical Science Monitor found magnesium citrate in a dose of 300mg was effective in the treatment of chronic persistent leg cramps. Side effect was diarrhea. You can buy magnesium as magnesium oxide or magnesium citrate from your local pharmacy with doses such as 200 to 400 mg and take a pill or two a day.