Menopause occurs when the levels of estrogen and progesterone become less in a woman’s body and menstruation stops completely for a period of over a year. Among the common symptoms of menopause are irregular periods and hot flashes, mood swings, irritability, sleep disturbances, vaginal dryness and urinary tract problems. Menopausal women may also suffer stomach pains and leg cramps and some may suffer more, as compared to others, in terms of sleeplessness.
Leg cramp pain during menopause can come on suddenly. It can be a shooting, sharp pain that can disturb your sleep, or wake you up. This pain may linger and make the area sore for almost 24 hours.
How They Occur
Women going through menopause have to deal with other symptoms as well. There are some pointers to keep in mind for avoiding and treating leg cramps so that you can tackle this problem. If you get leg cramps and feel a sudden pain in your leg, often at night, it can be attributed to a muscle or group of muscles suddenly tightening.
Most cramps occur in calf muscles, but cramps in your thigh or in your foot are also possible. Older women are more prone to this kind of pain and other contributing factors can be lack of physical exercise, an imbalance of minerals, problems with blood circulation apart from menopause.
For those of you that experience the problem of leg cramps only on certain occasions during menopause, you should consult with your doctor regarding the medications you are taking, as leg cramps may be a side effect of certain medicines.
Cramps in your legs during menopause do not cause any serious damage, so are not an alarming issue. However, they can disturb your sleep. For most women, leg cramps occur for a short while and usually go away quite suddenly.
Many women report that massaging or stretching the leg helps when they get a cramp. It is good to consult with your doctor, check your bone density and bring yourself up to date with your daily calcium supplements. Leg cramps can also be treated with continuous intake of calcium/magnesium supplements. Other complimentary therapies include drinking a couple of glasses of tonic water and soaking in a peppermint oil bath. A tincture of St. John’s wort is reported to also be helpful.
These kinds of cramps in the legs have further been linked with sleep disorders like the Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS) and Periodic Limb Movement Disorder (PLMD). The RLS and PLMD can disturb sleep in menopausal women and result in more problems like insomnia. RLS usually occurs before sleep sets in and causes calf discomfort and restlessness in the legs, which gets relief in a short time if you move around a bit.
PLMD, however, can cause excessive sleepiness and both conditions are more common in older women going through menopause. The sensations experienced during RLS are not very painful, but more toward discomfort and akin to being anxious. The subsequent leg cramps and creepy crawly feeling is felt deep in the legs, and often occurs when you lie in bed and may cause stress, if not treated in a timely manner.