Cramps occur when there is a sudden muscle contraction that is involuntary, causing pain and transient paralysis-like immobility. It usually occurs suddenly and resolves on its own after a while. Cramps can occur in both skeletal and smooth muscles. Once the cramp resolves, there can be residual muscle soreness.
It happens more often among those who exercise at night, older individuals, and teenagers. Although it is harmless, it can cause distress and anxiety especially if it recurs and takes a while to resolve. Affected individuals are advised to try massages, gentle stretching, taking a warm shower, warm bath, or putting light pressure on the cramping leg by walking or standing to help relieve the cramp.
If residual pain or soreness is severe, over-the-counter pain medication such as paracetamol (acetaminophen) and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) may be beneficial to help control the pain.
Cause #1: Peripheral Neuropathy
Peripheral neuropathy is caused by diseases that affect the peripheral nerves. The peripheral nerves are those that are beyond the brain and spinal cord. Damage to the peripheral nerves can cause impaired sensation, difficulty with movement, and disruption of the function of the affected nerves. The onset of peripheral neuropathy can be acute or gradual. Depending on the disease, peripheral neuropathy can be either permanent or temporary.
Examples of diseases that can cause peripheral neuropathy include leprosy, nutritional deficiency, diabetes, and chemotherapy. Peripheral neuropathy can lead to muscle loss, spasms, bone degeneration, fasciculations, and changes in the skin, nails, and hair.