How does Traditional Chinese Medicine help in Leg Cramps?

Leg cramps are sudden and painful contractions of muscles in the legs. They often occur when the body is rest, typically during sleep. The muscle cramps can last for a few seconds or up to several minutes. Muscle groups that mostly involved in leg cramps are calf (back of the lower leg), hamstrings (back of the thigh) and quadriceps (front of the thigh). Leg cramps are common, many people experience it occasionally, elderly people and pregnant women have a higher risk to develop the problem.
Common Causes of Leg Cramps

Overuse of a muscledehydrationmuscle 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. Narrowing of the arteries that deliver blood to your legs (arteriosclerosis of the extremities) can produce cramp-like pain in your legs and feet while you’re exercising. These cramps usually go away soon after you stop exercising.
  • Nerve compression. Compression of nerves in your spine (lumbar stenosis) also can produce cramp-like pain in your legs. The pain usually worsens the longer you walk. Walking in a slightly flexed position — such as you would use when pushing a shopping cart ahead of you — may improve or delay the onset of your symptoms.
  • Mineral depletion. Too little potassium, calcium or magnesium in your diet can contribute to leg cramps. Diuretics — medications often prescribed for high blood pressure — also can deplete these minerals.
Leg Cramps and TCM

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), leg cramps are muscle and tendon problems which have both external and internal origins. Since liver stores blood and rules tendons, spleen dominates limbs and rules muscles, and kidney rules bones. When these organs are weakened, that fail to nourish the muscles and tendons, there will be abnormal movements in the limbs. Meanwhile, when external pathogens like coldness and dampness or sports injuries further disturb the blood and Qi (vital energy) activities in the legs, muscle cramps will be induced. Furthermore, the body’s blood tend to flow back to the liver for storage at night, less blood flows to the muscles and tendons, and so leg cramps are more readily to occur during sleep.
TCM treatment for leg cramps aims to reinforce internal organs, free the activities of blood and Qinourish and loosen muscles and tendons of the legs. The remedies are chosen according to individual conditions, physicians will identify the symptoms and body signs of each patient to diagnose the body imbalances.
Besides that, acupuncture and moxibustion can effectively suppress hyperactive muscles, and are usually used for treating muscle cramps. In TCM, leg cramps is mainly due to coldness stimulation as well as improper blood and Qi activities of the legs, acupuncture can play a role to promote circulation, loosen the tendons, alleviate cramps and ease pain.
The content of this website is provided for information purposes only.  Consult with qualified professionals for further diagnosis and treatment.
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