Nocturnal Leg Cramps

Updated January 28, 1999

What are nocturnal leg cramps?

Nocturnal Leg cramps are painful sensations of muscular tightness or tension, usually in the calf, but occaisionally in the foot that occur during the sleep episode.

They are also referred to as leg cramps, muscle tightness of the leg, muscle hardness, nocturnal leg pain and “Charley-horse.”

What are the symptoms?

Polysomnography (sleep recording) shows:

What can be done about it?


Diagnostic Classification Steering Committee, Thorpy MJ, Chairman. International Classification of Sleep Disorders: Diagnostic and Coding Manual. Rochester, Minnesota: American Sleep Disorders Association, 1990.

Kryger, Meir H., Roth, Thomas, Dement, William C. Principles and Practice of Sleep Medicine, 2nd Edition. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: W.B. Saunders Company, 1994.

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