Sometimes leg cramps are just part of the aging process. The majority of adults have leg muscle cramps on occasion. If they happen infrequently, there’s probably not a cause for concern.
However, if leg cramps and muscle spasms happen often enough to disrupt your life or cause you great discomfort, there’s likely a reason for it.
Some of the risk factors and causes for your leg discomfort may be:
Some diuretics ("water pills" that remove fluid from the body), such as Lasix or furosemide, can affect your electrolyte levels and cause muscle spasms and cramps. According to the FDA, the following statins contain specific warnings on the package inserts about muscle pain and cramp: atorvastatin (Lipitor), fluvastatin (Lescol), lovastatin (Mevacor), pravastatin (Pravachol), rosuvastatin (Crestor), or simvastatin (Zocor), . If you start having muscle spasms or leg cramps soon after beginning a new medication, ask your doctor if your medication can be causing it.
The medications that cause electrolyte imbalance can disturb your magnesium, potassium, and sodium levels and lead to cramping.
When your body is lacking its optimal fluid level, it’s dehydrated. This means your body has lost the water it needs to perform its tasks. Usually, when you’re dehydrated, you’re also low on electrolytes. It’s important to maintain adequate hydration to prevent yourself from becoming dehydrated.
Diabetes can lead to a variety of complications including nerve damage called diabetic neuropathy. Also, if you’ve undergone treatment for cancer, you may have nerve damage as a result of your treatment. This can cause leg pain symptoms that can lead to spasms and cramps.
Certain health conditions.
Conditions such as hypertension (high blood pressure), diabetes, peripheral artery disease (PAD) and high cholesterol can all damage the blood vessels in the legs and feet, resulting in poor blood flow and a lack of oxygen and nutrients to muscles and nerves. With a lack of oxygen and nutrients muscles and nerves cannot function well, resulting in pain and cramp. Other conditions such as hypothyroidism, heart disease, , osteoarthritis, Parkinson’s, Alzheimers’s, and kidney disease can also all cause muscle spasms and leg cramps. Many of the medications used to treat your condition may also affect the balance of fluid and electrolytes in your body. Other times, cramps and spasms are symptoms of the disease.
While your leg cramps and muscle spasms can happen anytime, 60% of adults experience leg cramps frequently at night, when they’re trying to rest.
Many of the illnesses that can cause this type of leg pain are more common in older people. Also, many seniors are on medications that are known to be common culprits of cramping and spasms in the legs.
Sometimes, nocturnal leg muscle cramps are simply due to muscle fatigue. Only your doctor can determine the reason for your symptoms.