Question: I work on my feet all day and often when I go home and sit down, my legs start cramping. It is painful and uncomfortable. What can I do to prevent these leg cramps?
Dr. Hibberd’s answer:
Leg cramps that occur at rest at the end of the day, especially after being on your feet all day, may be caused by a number of things. Two conditions — known to doctors as “arterial insufficiency” and “intermittent claudication” — usually cause pain while walking but are relieved at rest. “Venous insufficiency” may result in aches, pain, and swelling at rest — and may be alleviated by raising your feet and legs above the level of your chest.
Sometimes leg cramps occur when muscle use causes an accumulation of lactic acid — a condition that can usually be eased by gentle massage. Mild dehydration is also a common cause of muscle cramps, and is easily remedied by drinking more fluids. Be aware that caffeine from tea and coffee/cola use can make cramping worse, as caffeine has a diuretic effect on our bodies.
Sometimes cramps are due to mineral or electrolyte imbalances, so if they persist, see your doctor for an evaluation so your levels can be checked.
Do not try to treat yourself with potassium or calcium before getting a doctor’s evaluation. Cramps may result from both too much and too little of them, and adding more to an already elevated level can be dangerous to your heart and even lead to cardiac arrest or life-threatening arrhythmia.