Hello, I’m Dr. Ken Berry, a family physician with over 20 years of clinical experience and author of “Lies My Doctor Told Me”. Today, I’d like to delve into a common issue that affects millions of people worldwide – leg cramps. Some people experience them rarely, while others grapple with them almost every day. In this blog post, I’ll discuss the seven most common causes of leg cramps and their corresponding cures.
1. Salt Deficiency: The Hidden Culprit
The most common cause of leg cramps is not getting enough salt in your diet. Contrary to popular belief, salt isn’t bad for us. In fact, all mammals, including humans, need salt on a daily basis. So, don’t shy away from salt. Instead, focus on consuming real salt that comes from an ancient ocean, not the modern one.
Tip: Look for salt that clumps – a natural characteristic of real salt.
2. Electrolyte Imbalance: The Silent Disruptor
Next on the list is an imbalance of electrolytes, specifically deficiencies in magnesium, potassium, and calcium. Almost everyone in modern society is depleted in magnesium and potassium, and many people lack calcium.
Tip: Include foods rich in these nutrients in your diet and consider using electrolyte drops.
3. Temporary Over Exertion: The Occasional Offender
If you suddenly become more active than usual, you may experience leg cramps. This is normal and not a sign of anything medically wrong. It’s simply your body’s way of responding to overexertion.
Tip: Regular physical activity can help prevent these cramps.
4. Medications: The Unseen Side Effects
Certain medications can increase the risk of leg cramps. These include statin drugs, Forteo, Avista, fake estrogens, non-steroidal anti-inflammatories, calcium channel blockers, Zyrtec, Cipro, and Celexa.
Tip: If you suspect your medication is causing leg cramps, consult with your doctor about possible alternatives.
5. Blood Clot (DVT): The Hidden Danger
A blood clot in the leg, known as a Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT), can cause cramping. If you have a cramp in one calf that started over the last few weeks and it’s not getting better or it’s getting worse, you should see a doctor.
6. Artery Blockage: The Silent Threat
Blockages in the arteries in your legs can cause cramping. This is more common in people who have been diabetic for years, smoked, or used any tobacco product for years and years, or had high blood pressure for years.
7. Serious Medical Conditions: The Rare But Serious Causes
Some forms of cancer, autoimmune diseases, cirrhosis of the liver, and other liver diseases can cause leg cramps. Lumbar stenosis can also cause leg cramps, usually with lower back pain.
If you’ve addressed the most common causes and are still experiencing leg cramps, you should consult with your doctor to rule out these more serious conditions.
Remember, knowledge is power. By understanding the causes of leg cramps, you can take proactive steps to prevent them and improve your overall health.