Thigh Cramps: 6 Possible Causes, Symptoms, Treatments & Prevention (2022)

Thigh cramps can occur due to sudden contraction in the muscles of your legs. These involuntary and uncomfortable contractions can disrupt your daily activities.

Thigh cramps at night can disturb you while sleeping. Thigh cramps almost affect everyone including the athletes and runners.

According to a research, 79% of athletes, 39% of runners and 60% of cyclists go through serious thigh cramps.

The muscle cramps occur without warning. Generally, they do not need any particular medical attention.

They can be treated with home remedies, stretching, massaging and exercise. Keep reading to know about the causes and solutions of thigh cramps.

Thigh Cramps: 6 Possible Causes, Symptoms, Treatments & Prevention (1)

Causes of Thigh Cramps

There can be several causes of thigh cramps.

Dehydration, overuse of a particular muscle and lack of proper exercise are some of the reasons of thigh cramps. Let us look in detail at what causes thigh cramps.

Thigh Cramps: 6 Possible Causes, Symptoms, Treatments & Prevention (2)

1. Inadequate Supply of Blood

Inadequate supply of blood is also responsible for thigh cramps.

The arteries can turn narrow and make it difficult for circulation of blood. It can cause pain in thigh muscles. It occurs when you are exercising.

2. Poor Blood Circulation

Poor Blood circulation is also one of the causes for the occurrence of thigh cramps. Improper diet and inadequate flow of blood in your body can lead to leg cramps in thighs.

(Video) Top 7 Ways to Treat Leg Cramps, Muscles Cramps, Charley Horses, & Muscle Spams

Eating healthy food can help you avoid pain in thigh muscle due to poor blood circulation.

3. Deficiency of Minerals

Deficiency of minerals like potassium, calcium, and magnesium can cause thigh cramps. Medicines for high blood pressure are also accountable for lack of these minerals in your body.

Therefore, these medicines can also be responsible for deficiency of minerals.

4. Dehydration

Dehydration is one of the most common causes of pain in thigh muscles. Lack of water in your body can lead to frequent leg cramps in thighs.

Make sure you drink seven to eight glasses of water per day to avoid dehydration.

5. Muscle Fatigue

Muscle fatigue and overuse of a particular muscle can also lead to thigh cramps.

Excessive pressure on specific muscles can lead to involuntary contraction of the muscle. When your muscles turn tired, muscle knots are formed. Try taking rest in such circumstances.

6. Nerve Compression

Nerve compression can also cause pain in thigh muscles. Compression of nerves in your spine is also known as lumbar stenosis.

The pain can worsen if you walk for a more extended period. Spinal cord injury can also be responsible for the same.

Along with the above causes, there are various factors which affect the frequency of thigh cramps. Let us look at them in detail.

Factors Affecting the frequency of Thigh Cramps

Age

Old people are more prone to thigh cramps as they have less mass in the body.

Pregnancy

Pregnant women fall under more risk of getting leg cramps in thighs.

Alcohol

If you are addicted to alcohol, there are high chances of occurrence of thigh cramps in your legs.

(Video) Leg Cramps: 7 Causes and 7 Cures

Diseases

People with thyroid, diabetes, and nerve disorders are more prone to getting thigh cramps.

Symptoms That Require Medical Attention

Generally, thigh cramps are harmless and do not require medical treatment. However, there are specific symptoms which can need you to consult a doctor. Let us now look at them.

  • When you face severe discomfort
  • Leg swelling, swelling of the body, or redness
  • Weakness in the muscles
  • Increase in frequency of thigh cramps
  • No sign of improvement
  • Happens to occur without any common reason

How to Prevent Thigh Cramps?

There are several ways to prevent thigh cramps:

Stay Hydrated

Dehydration can increase the frequency and chances of thigh cramps. Therefore, it is necessary to drink at least seven to eight glasses of water per day.

It is essential to drink more water during the hot weather and vigorous activities. Your medications and diet can also determine the amount of water you should consume.

Stretching your Muscles Regularly:

Before any vigorous activity or extensive use of a muscle, stretch your muscle gently. If you face high cramps at night, perform a little stretching before sleeping.

Take Proper Diet and Nutrition

Incorporate more amount of Vitamins, calcium, magnesium, and potassium in your diet. Eat healthy food and take care of your nutrition.

Also, make sure that you sleep on your side and do not use constrictive bedding for sleeping.

Thigh Cramps Treatment Options

There are thigh cramps treatments available. Read further to know how to get rid of thigh cramps.

Thigh Cramps: 6 Possible Causes, Symptoms, Treatments & Prevention (3)

1. Stretching

Lay down on your back, use a towel or a belt to wrap the ball of your foot of the affected leg and raise your leg. Pull your leg towards you gently with the help of the towel or belt.

Keep massaging the hamstrings while pulling your leg. You can do this using your one hand to hold the towel or belt and the other hand to massage.

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If you cannot lay down on your back, you can do the same by sitting, stretching out your legs and bending forward.

If the cramp has occurred on your front portion of the thigh, stretch your quads. Stand straight and raise your foot backward towards your butt.

Try to hold your leg with your hand and pull it closer to your butt. Make sure not to bend your leg too much and keep your knee in line with your thigh. Keep pulling your leg and stretching gently.

Don’t strain your muscle too much and pull your leg gently only. Keep walking in between the stretching to relax your muscles.

2. Epsom Salt

Epsom salt contains magnesium which helps to relax the muscles. Therefore, Epsom salt can be used to treat thigh cramps. Take two cups of Epsom salt and add it to a bathtub filled with warm water.

Soak in the water for twenty minutes. You can repeat this every day. People who have diabetes, high blood pressure or heart problems should not use Epsom salt.

3. Use Ice or Heat Pack

It is one of the best thigh cramps treatments. If you are suffering from pain, tightness or cramps frequently, you can use heat pack for the same.

Use a warm towel or heating pad to massage the area. You can also use ice packs on the swollen area.

4. Yellow Mustard

Yellow mustard contains acetic acid that increases production of acetylcholine. The acetylcholine helps the muscles to work. It can help to bring relief to your pain.

Take one spoon of yellow mustard and follow it with a cup of warm milk. It can help you cure thigh cramps.

5. Rosemary

Rosemary has anti-inflammatory properties. It can help to reduce soreness and bring relief to pain in the muscles. Therefore, Rosemary can help you to treat thigh cramps.

Take an ounce of Rosemary and put it in a jar of boiling water. Cover it and leave it for 30 minutes. Then, Soak a cloth in the water and compress the affected area with it.

Follow it with cold compression. You can also make Rosemary tea out of Rosemary leaves by boiling a teaspoon of Rosemary leaves to a cup of water. Drink this tea two or three times per day.

(Video) How to Fix Leg Muscle Pain in 30 SECONDS

6. Light Exercises

If you go through the thigh cramps that won’t go away, then gentle exercises can be beneficial to you. Walking, yoga and movement of the body can be useful for treating thigh cramps.

7. Clove Oil

The anesthetic property of clove oil helps to reduce pain in thigh muscles. Also, the anti-inflammatory features in the clove oil help to cure the swelling of the muscles.

They also provide relief from pain. Take some drops of warm clove oil and gently rub it on the affected area. Massage it for five to ten minutes. Repeat if desired.

8. Blackstrap Molasses

Blackstrap molasses are rich in calcium and potassium. If the leg cramps in thighs occur due to the deficiency of these minerals, blackstrap molasses can be a perfect cure for you.

Mix one tablespoon of blackstrap molasses in warm milk or water. Drink this liquid one or two times per day for relief in pain.

9. Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple cider vinegar is rich in potassium and also helps to maintain fluid in the body. Low potassium in the body can cause thigh cramps that won’t go away.

Apple cider vinegar helps to cure the same. Add one tablespoon of apple cider vinegar to a glass of warm water and drink it. Consume it daily for useful results.

10. Baking Soda

Baking soda counterbalances the lactic acid which emerges due to vigorous exercise. Drink one-fourth teaspoon baking solution after exercise.

It helps to regulate the lactic acid. It also cures the pain in thigh muscles due to cramps.

Along with the above high cramps treatments, you can also go for a massage. Have fruit juices and liquid, and also use proper bedding.

Conclusion

You should keep certain factors in mind if you frequently suffer from thigh cramps. If you get thigh cramps at night, wear socks and sleep. Don’t wear too tight clothes on your legs if you suffer from thigh cramps.

Drink some warm milk and perform light exercises before sleeping to have a cramp-free night. Also, make sure to stay hydrated and inculcate vitamins and calcium in your diet.

Both stretching and resting are required to prevent cramps from occurring. Keep note of all the above to prevent and cure pain.

(Video) 5 Easy Ways to Relieve & Prevent Leg Cramps

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Sources:
Miller, K. C., Stone, M. S., Huxel, K. C., & Edwards, J. E. (2010). Exercise-Associated Muscle Cramps: Causes, Treatment, and Prevention. Sports Health, 2(4), 279–283. http://doi.org/10.1177/1941738109357299
“Muscle Cramp,” Mayo Clinic Website, last accessed March 15th, 2018, https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/muscle-cramp/symptoms-causes/syc-20350820
“Why Is My Leg Cramping? What Can Help?,” WebMD Website, last accessed March 15th, 2018, https://www.webmd.com/pain-management/muscle-spasms-cramps-charley-horse
“Remedies for Muscle Spasms, Leg Cramps & the Charley Horse?” Dr. Axe Website, Last accessed March 15th, 2018, https://draxe.com/muscle-spasms/
“How to get rid of a Thigh Cramp” wikiHow Website, Last accessed March 15th, 2018, https://www.wikihow.com/Get-Rid-of-a-Thigh-Cramp

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FAQs

What is the cause of thigh cramps? ›

Overuse of a muscle, dehydration, muscle strain or simply holding a position for a prolonged period can cause a muscle cramp. In many cases, however, the cause isn't known. Although most muscle cramps are harmless, some may be related to an underlying medical condition, such as: Inadequate blood supply.

What are 6 causes for muscle cramps? ›

How do I stop my upper thigh from cramping? ›

Apply heat or cold.

Use a warm towel or heating pad on tense or tight muscles. Taking a warm bath or directing the stream of a hot shower onto the cramped muscle also can help. Alternatively, massaging the cramped muscle with ice may relieve pain.

What are 5 common causes of muscle cramps? ›

What causes muscle cramps?
  • Straining or overusing a muscle. ...
  • Compression of your nerves, from problems such as a spinal cord injury or a pinched nerve in the neck or back.
  • Dehydration.
  • Low levels of electrolytes such as magnesium, potassium, or calcium.
  • Not enough blood getting to your muscles.
  • Pregnancy.
  • Certain medicines.
Jun 9, 2020

What medicine is best for leg cramps? ›

Take ibuprofen or acetaminophen to help with the pain. Elevate. Prop up your leg after the cramp starts to feel better.

How do you stop cramps? ›

How to stop muscle cramps
  1. Using dynamic stretches to gently warm up your muscles before exercise.
  2. Performing static stretches after exercise and before bed.
  3. Drinking plenty of water.
  4. Knowing whether you might be low on electrolytes and when you should choose a sports drink over water.
Feb 28, 2022

Which vitamin helps muscle cramps? ›

Some research shows that replacing certain nutrients, including potassium, sodium, and magnesium, may help counteract muscle cramps. Plus, deficiencies in nutrients like magnesium, vitamin D, and certain B vitamins may increase the chances of muscle cramps ( 3 , 4 , 5 ).

What diseases cause muscle cramps? ›

Muscle cramps can be a symptom of many different medical issues. They are often associated with muscle strain, but they can also be a sign of medical conditions such as circulation problems and liver disease.

Is potassium or magnesium better for leg cramps? ›

For example, calcium and potassium are also involved in muscle cramping. If a lack of one of these other nutrients is causing the muscle cramps, then magnesium wouldn't help. Magnesium does help some people.

What causes severe inner thigh cramps at night? ›

In general, night leg cramps are likely to be related to muscle fatigue and nerve problems. The risk of having night leg cramps increases with age. Pregnant women also have a higher likelihood of having night leg cramps.

Why do I get cramps in my thighs at night? ›

Leg cramps at night, or nocturnal leg cramps (NLCs), are common and can occur due to inactivity during the day, tired muscles, or certain medical conditions. NLCs, also called charley horses, are uncontrolled spasms in the muscles of the leg that may be painful.

How do you stop leg cramps in elderly? ›

Prevention for Leg Cramps in the Elderly

Sleep with loose, untucked sheets and comforters to keep your feet pointed upward. Drink plenty of fluids. Stretch your legs (especially your calves and hamstrings) before bed. Wear supportive footwear during the day, especially if you have flat feet.

What should I eat to avoid cramps? ›

FOODS THAT PREVENT MUSCLE CRAMPS
  • Bananas. Bananas are a good pre-workout snack to boost your energy and prevent cramps. ...
  • Water. You're more likely to get muscle cramps if you do intense workouts without proper hydration. ...
  • Avocado. ...
  • Pickle Juice. ...
  • Watermelon. ...
  • Fortified Orange Juice. ...
  • Sweet Potatoes. ...
  • Beans.

What are 3 ways to prevent muscle cramps? ›

If you get nocturnal leg cramps, do some walking before you go to sleep. Stretch. Stretch frequently including before and after you exercise and before you go to sleep. Purchase sturdy shoes.

How can I stop my legs from cramping at night? ›

Nocturnal Leg Cramp Prevention
  1. Stretch during the day and before bed. Focus on your calf and foot muscles.
  2. Drink plenty of water.
  3. Move around during the day to exercise your feet and legs.
  4. Wear comfortable, supportive shoes.
  5. Sleep under loose covers, especially if you sleep on your back.
Mar 3, 2022

Is B12 good for leg cramps? ›

There is some evidence that taking a daily capsule containing eight B vitamins—B1 (thiamine), B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin), B5 (pantothenic acid), B6, B7 (biotin), B9 (folate), and B12—may prevent cramps.

Do bananas help with muscle cramps? ›

You probably know that bananas are a good source of potassium. But they'll also give you magnesium and calcium. That's three out of four nutrients you need to ease muscle cramps tucked under that yellow peel. No wonder bananas are a popular, quick choice for cramp relief.

Does B12 deficiency cause leg cramps? ›

In addition to the symptoms above, B12 deficiency may lead to the following: Muscle cramps and muscle weakness. B12 deficiency affects sensory nerve function leading to motor dysfunction, which can cause muscle cramps and weakness. Impaired coordination.

Does lack of salt cause cramp? ›

When sodium levels are too low: The body's ability to send signals is interrupted so the brain overcompensates and sends too many electrical impulses. Eventually, these signals overwhelm the muscle, preventing it from relaxing and manifesting in muscle twitches or cramping.

Can nerve damage cause cramps? ›

Motor nerve damage causes muscle weakness, and symptoms may include painful cramps and muscle twitching, muscle loss, bone degeneration, and changes in the skin, hair, and nails.

When is the best time to take magnesium for leg cramps? ›

Therefore, magnesium supplements can be taken at any time of the day, as long as you're able to take them consistently. For some, taking supplements first thing in the morning may be easiest, while others may find that taking them with dinner or just before bed works well for them.

What are the 10 signs of low magnesium? ›

10 Symptoms of Magnesium Deficiency
  • Calcification of the arteries. Unfortunately, this is one of the first symptoms to appear, as well as one of the most serious. ...
  • Muscle Spasming & Cramping. ...
  • Anxiety & Depression. ...
  • Hormone Imbalances. ...
  • High Blood Pressure / Hypertension. ...
  • Pregnancy Discomfort. ...
  • Low Energy. ...
  • Bone Health.
Feb 1, 2020

Why won't my leg cramp go away? ›

Typically, leg cramping will go away as the muscles loosen up. If you experience cramping after exercise, the pain should dissipate quickly. If you are not pregnant or have any of the medical conditions listed above, venous disease may be the cause of your persistent leg cramping.

How do you treat thigh pain? ›

In most cases, thigh pain can be treated with home remedies such as:
  1. ice.
  2. heat.
  3. over-the-counter medications such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil)
  4. weight management.
  5. moderating activity.
  6. stretching and strengthening exercises for the pelvis, hip, and core.

What medications cause leg cramps at night? ›

These medications can cause leg cramps in 3% of people who take them or less:
  • Bupropion (Wellbutrin)
  • Celecoxib (Celebrex)
  • Cetirizine (Zyrtec)
  • Fluoxetine (Prozac)
  • Naproxen (Aleve, Naprosyn)
  • Pregabalin (Lyrica)
  • Sertraline (Zoloft)
  • Short-acting inhalers such as ipratropium/albuterol (Combivent) and levalbuterol (Xopenex).
Sep 16, 2021

Why do I get cramps in my thighs at night? ›

In general, night leg cramps are likely to be related to muscle fatigue and nerve problems. The risk of having night leg cramps increases with age. Pregnant women also have a higher likelihood of having night leg cramps.

What does upper thigh pain mean? ›

Because of a large number of muscles in the upper thigh, pain in this area is often due to a muscle injury. Some common muscle injuries in this area include: Muscle sprains and strains. Sprains and strains can affect any of the many muscles, ligaments, and tendons in the thigh. A sprain is a torn or stretched ligament.

What causes severe inner thigh cramps at night? ›

Leg cramps at night, or nocturnal leg cramps (NLCs), are common and can occur due to inactivity during the day, tired muscles, or certain medical conditions. NLCs, also called charley horses, are uncontrolled spasms in the muscles of the leg that may be painful.

When should I be concerned about thigh pain? ›

Signs and symptoms that warrant a visit to a medical professional include: Severe pain that limits your ability to function (like having difficulty walking) Thigh pain accompanied by fever or malaise (can be a sign of infection) Thigh pain with redness, swelling, and warmth of your skin (can sign of a blood clot)

What vitamin is good for leg cramps at night? ›

Vitamin B complex.

There is some evidence that taking a daily capsule containing eight B vitamins—B1 (thiamine), B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin), B5 (pantothenic acid), B6, B7 (biotin), B9 (folate), and B12—may prevent cramps.

Which vitamin helps muscle cramps? ›

Some research shows that replacing certain nutrients, including potassium, sodium, and magnesium, may help counteract muscle cramps. Plus, deficiencies in nutrients like magnesium, vitamin D, and certain B vitamins may increase the chances of muscle cramps ( 3 , 4 , 5 ).

What home remedy is good for leg cramps at night? ›

You can try the following at home to try to relieve a cramp:
  1. Massage your leg. Rubbing the affected muscle may help it relax. ...
  2. Stretch. If the cramp is in your calf, straighten your leg. ...
  3. Walk on your heels. ...
  4. Apply heat. ...
  5. Drink pickle juice. ...
  6. Take an over-the-counter painkiller if your leg is sore after.

How do you relax your thigh muscles? ›

To do a thigh stretch:
  1. Lie on your right side.
  2. Grab the top of your left foot and gently pull your heel towards your left buttock to stretch the front of the thigh.
  3. Keep your knees touching.
  4. Repeat on the other side.

What exercises can I do to relieve thigh pain? ›

To stretch the back of your thigh, lie on your back and lift one leg towards your chest. Place your hands behind your knee. Gently pull your leg towards your chest - you should feel a stretch in the back of your sore thigh. Hold for up to 10 seconds then return your leg to the floor.

Can thigh pain be caused by hip? ›

Hip pain can occur in the front, side, or back of the hip. The nerves from the hip that travel down the leg commonly cause radiating pain in the thigh, knee, and/or lower in the leg.

What deficiency causes muscle cramps? ›

Muscle twitches and cramps

Twitches, tremors, and muscle cramps are signs of magnesium deficiency. In worst-case scenarios, deficiency may even cause seizures or convulsions ( 1 , 3 ).

What nerve causes pain in front of thigh? ›

Causes. The femoral nerve is located in the pelvis and goes down the front of the leg. It helps the muscles move the hip and straighten the leg. It provides feeling (sensation) to the front of the thigh and part of the lower leg.

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