Leg cramps: they’re painful and annoying. But did you know they could be more than just a nuisance? Yes, that’s right! Leg cramps are often a symptom of a more serious medical condition. Here are four health problems that could be causing you to experience leg cramps:
- Serious Disease
Certain vein diseases can cause you to experience leg cramps. Two likely causes are varicose veins (incompetent veins that have started to swell) or chronic venous insufficiency (CVI, a condition in which your valves don’t work the way they’re supposed to, so some of your blood flows down into your legs instead of upwards to return to your heart). Cardiac diseases and degenerative disc conditions may also cause you to experience leg cramps.
- DehydrationLeg cramps can also be caused by dehydration, which can occur for several different reasons: not enough water intake in warm weather; certain dehydrating beverages like coffee and black tea, or certain medications with diuretic effects. Kidney conditions may also affect your ability to remain hydrated.
- Thyroid Irregularities When your thyroid is functioning too slowly (hypothyroidism), you may experience several symptoms, including fatigue, weight gain, cold intolerance, difficulties thinking clearly and cramps in your muscles, especially in your legs.
- Vitamin DeficienciesLeg cramps can also be the result of a magnesium, potassium or calcium deficiency in your body. The cramps may be experienced in your toes, calves, the arches of your feet, and/or the backs of your legs. Many pregnant women will experience vitamin deficiencies, and pregnant women are also more vulnerable to vein conditions like varicose veins, so expectant mothers should pay extra close attention to symptoms like leg cramps.
When dealing with a relatively minor complication like leg cramps, it can be tempting to ignore your symptoms and simply hope they go away after a while. If leg cramps are your problem, however, ignoring the issue can be dangerous. Since leg cramps can be symptoms of so many serious medical problems, it’s important to see your doctor right away is you are affected by this concern.
Sources: healthline.com, medicinenet.com, mayoclinic.org