Kidney problems cause leg cramps
Muscle pain and calf pain: an overview of the causes
In a muscle spasm, the muscle suddenly contracts and hardens. This is accompanied by severe pain, which often only subsides after a few minutes. The most common ones are calf and foot cramps.
As a rule, muscle cramps are harmless - but there can also be illnesses behind the pulling pain.
Leg cramps: why do the muscles cramp?
If the calf muscles are cramped, there are usually harmless causes behind it. Strong muscle tension and stress during exercise can trigger cramps. Cold also irritates the muscle. An imbalance in the electrolyte balance also often leads to cramps: In the body, minerals play an important role in controlling communication between nerves and muscles. If magnesium, calcium, sodium and potassium are not available in sufficient quantities, the muscles can cramp. A lack of fluids also puts a strain on the muscles. For this reason, cramps are often associated with profuse sweating, insufficient drinking, diarrhea, vomiting, and dieting.
But too little challenge is troublesome for the legs. If you sit at your desk all day or drive a lot, you often have to struggle with calf cramps at night. The reason: the lack of movement worsens the blood circulation in the legs and the muscles are not adequately supplied with oxygen and nutrients. Uncomfortable footwear also causes muscles to cramp - many women who wear high-heeled shoes are familiar with this phenomenon.
Warning signs of leg cramp: These conditions can be behind muscle cramps
However, muscle cramps in the legs are not always due to an imbalance in the electrolyte balance or to excessive or insufficient demands. The symptoms can also be caused by serious illnesses, such as a malfunction of the thyroid gland, a sick intestine, weak kidneys or an inflammation of the pancreas. Circulatory disorders in the legs, for example due to blocked blood vessels, can also cause pain and leg cramps. Doctors then speak of what is known as peripheral arterial occlusive disease, or PAOD for short. Sometimes incorrect stress due to joint diseases is to blame for the cramps. Medicines can also be used as triggers.
Diabetics also often suffer from leg cramps. If the blood sugar levels are too high, the kidneys begin to filter the sugar out of the blood and then excrete it with the urine. During this process valuable minerals such as magnesium and potassium are lost. Disturbances in the electrolyte balance occur, which manifest themselves in the form of leg cramps and increased thirst. However, circulatory disorders can also ensure that the leg muscles are not adequately supplied with oxygen and nutrients in the case of diabetes mellitus. As the disease progresses, nerve damage can cause painful cramps.
When do you have to see a doctor with calf cramps?
In any case, you should consult your family doctor if the cramps:
- occur again and again
- often last for several minutes and are very painful
- occur with certain movements
- Do not let up even with stretching exercises
- rob you of sleep and you are exhausted and not well rested in the morning
- be accompanied by swelling of the legs or feet
- occur concomitantly with back pain
- numbness, paralysis, tingling and other abnormal sensations occur. Danger! In these emergencies, a doctor must be consulted immediately.
Various examination methods help the doctor to find the trigger for the cramps. Among other things, blood and urine values provide information about the electrolyte balance of the body, the blood sugar values, but also about the liver and kidney values. Thyroid function or hormone production is also often included in the diagnosis. Ultrasound exams of the veins and arteries in the legs are also possible measures. Depending on the result, it may be necessary to visit other doctors, for example an orthopedic surgeon, neurologist or another specialist.
Immediate action: stretching exercises help in acute cases
If the calf cramp occurs acutely, targeted stretching exercises help to loosen the muscle again. It is best to stretch your leg out and pull your toes towards your knees. A light massage of the calf will also help ease the cramp. It also helps many if they stand up straight.
Self-help: prevent leg cramps
If you have frequent cramps, a visit to the doctor is mandatory. This must clarify whether there is a possible illness behind the symptoms. If this is not the case, calf cramps can be prevented by ensuring adequate fluid intake and providing the body with important vitamins and minerals with a balanced diet. Magnesium, for example, is found in abundance in bananas, nuts, whole grain products, legumes, oatmeal and milk.
The muscles should be warmed up well before sporting activities - this also prevents sports injuries. After exercising, it is advisable to stretch the muscles sufficiently. Stretching exercises are also useful before going to bed, especially if the cramps occur at night. A neck roll under the knees can also help.
Therapy: Always under the guidance of a doctor
If the doctor determines a nutrient deficiency, dietary supplements can be useful. This should always be done under medical supervision - especially if other medications are already being taken. Otherwise interactions can occur. In addition, it must be ensured that the intake does not adversely affect other diseases.
Important NOTE: The information is in no way a substitute for professional advice or treatment by trained and recognized doctors. The contents of t-online cannot and must not be used to independently make diagnoses or start treatments.
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