Night leg cramps, also called nocturnal leg cramps, are painful, involuntary spasms, aching or contractions of muscles in your legs. In most cases, night leg cramps involve your calf muscles, but muscles in your feet or thighs may cramp as well.
Night leg cramps
The risk of having night leg cramps increases with age. Pregnant women also have a higher likelihood of experiencing night leg cramps.
In rare situations, night leg cramps can be associated with an underlying disorder, such as peripheral artery disease — in which narrowed arteries reduce blood flow to your limbs — diabetes or spinal stenosis.
Some drugs, particularly intravenous iron, estrogens and naproxen, have been linked to night leg cramps.
Restless legs syndrome (RLS) is sometimes confused with night leg cramps, but it's a separate condition. In general, pain is not a main feature of RLS, but RLS could be the cause of night leg cramps.
Other conditions that may sometimes be associated with night leg cramps may include:
- Peripheral artery disease
- Spinal stenosis
Medications and procedures
- Blood pressure drugs
- Oral contraceptives
- Cholesterol-lowering drugs (statins)
- Muscle fatigue
- Nerve damage, as from cancer treatments
- Parkinson's disease
- Addison's disease (adrenal insufficiency)
- Hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid)
- Hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid)
- Chronic kidney disease
- Type 1 diabetes
- Type 2 diabetes
Causes shown here are commonly associated with this symptom. Work with your doctor or other health care professional for an accurate diagnosis.