Peter Hibberd, M.D., is a doctor whose advice is based on more than 28 years of hospital outpatient and inpatient experience. He is an experienced emergency medicine physician, surgeon, and consultant. Dr. Hibberd is certified by the American Board of Emergency Medicine. He is also a fellow and active member of the American Academy of Family Physicians, an active member of the American College of Emergency Physicians, and a member and fellow of the American Academy of Emergency Medicine. Dr. Hibberd has earned numerous national and international professional certifications, memberships, and awards.
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What's Causing My Nightly Leg Cramps?

Monday, 28 Jun 2010 03:24 PM


Question: My husband and I both have leg cramps at night. What causes them, and what can we do to stop them?

Dr. Hibberd's Answer:

Leg cramps only occurring at night are very common, but have many causes. The fact that you and your husband both have leg cramps may be coincidental with differing causes, but my detective instincts cannot help but immediately think of excluding environmental causes for both of your problems with leg cramps.

Do either of you have bruises? Periodic leg movements can interrupt sleep with you being unaware of having been awakened. Your bed partner is frequently awakened by this process, often having bruises to show for the trauma received while asleep. Both spouses often complain of soreness. As with sleep apnea, you are often unaware of what is happening while asleep.

Correctable physical causes of leg cramps will be evaluated for and include cardiac, biochemical, circulatory, orthopedic, rheumatologic, metabolic, neurologic, pulmonary, and infectious causes.

You may wish to discuss an environmental evaluation of your home with your doctor. If concerns for contamination, lead, copper, or radon exist, your doctor can help guide you through the investigation.

Toxin exposure in our modern 21st century lives is commonly overlooked. Don’t forget the workplace also. Many a spouse has been exposed to a mate’s workplace toxin. Their exposure occurs by virtue of adsorption to clothing and shoes etc.

Remember, leg cramps may be reflective of nutritional deficiencies also. I assume you both eat a similar diet, so be sure to have your balance of vitamins and nutrients evaluated. Though scurvy (vitamin C deficiency) was a common cause of demise in the explorers to our country hundreds of years ago, if is very much alive today, especially with the advent of fast foods and less emphasis on fresh fruits. Many B vitamin deficiencies manifest similarly.

Avoid using quinine for leg cramps. While used for many years without FDA approval, it is now regarded as unsafe for continued use for this purpose.





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