These sudden muscle contractions, which often have no apparent cause, can hurt so much that they wake people from sleep. “They can leave a muscle sore for days,” Lipman says. Up to 60 percent of adults report nocturnal leg cramps.

What to do: First, tell your doctor so that he or she can check for underlying causes such as dehydration, nerve disorders, vascular disease, and calcium, magnesium, or potassium deficiencies.

One of the best fixes is stretching. Keep an old tie on your nightstand, and before bed or when a cramp strikes, wrap it over the ball of your foot and keep your leg straight. Holding both ends, gently pull the ball of the foot toward your head.

Quinine (an anti-malaria drug) was once used to treat cramps, but the Food and Drug Administration has warned against that practice due to the potential for severe side effects, such as heart problems.

Source: Consumer Reports on Health December 2017 Marvin M. Lipman, M.D., Consumer Reports chief medical advisor.

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