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Nocturnal leg cramps are different from Restless Leg Syndrome(RLS). If you wake up in the middle of the night with a "charley horse," yelping in pain, this should not be mistaken for restless leg syndrome. Nocturnal leg cramps differ from restless legs syndrome (RLS) because RLS does not involve cramping or pain.
Nocturnal leg cramps are sudden, involuntary contractions most commonly of the calf muscles during the night or periods of rest. The cramping sensation may last from a few seconds to 10 minutes, but the pain from the cramps may linger for a longer period. Nocturnal leg camps tend to be found in middle-aged or older populations, but people of any age can have them.
The cause of nocturnal leg cramps is not known. Some cases of the disorder can occur without a triggering event, while other causes of leg cramps may be linked to prolonged sitting, dehydration, an overexertion of the muscles, or structural disorders (such as flat feet). Muscle-stretching, exercise and adequate water intake may help prevent leg cramps
The most common cause of nocturnal leg cramps is calcium deficiency. If you are postmenopausal, trying to lose weight, or don't consume enough calcium, you are vulnerable to developing leg cramps.
To relieve the pain of nocturnal leg cramps, flex your foot up (toes to ceiling) and hold until the cramping stops, apply heat and massage.