Leg Pain at Night
Another possible cause of leg pain at night is gout. While gout typically affects the big toe, it can also occur in your legs too at the site of a joint. Muscle cramps can be very painful. A muscle cramp is both sudden and involuntary and can cause a lot of pain.
Gout is most commonly found affecting the big toe, but it can also occur in your feet, ankles, knees, hands, and wrists. If it is untreated, the pain will usually last for five to ten days and then stop. The discomfort usually will subside over one to two weeks, and the result is typically a normal and pain free joint. It also can be characterized by swollen, red, and tender joints.
Gout occurs when urate crystals accumulate around your joint. This causes inflammation to occur and the strong pain of a gout attack. These urate crystals can form when you have very high levels of uric acid currently in your blood. Uric acid is produced by your body when it breaks down purines, which are substances that are found naturally in your body and in some foods, like organ meats, herring, anchovies, asparagus, and mushrooms. Uric acid normally dissolves in your blood and then passes through your kidneys and into your urine. However, sometimes your body will produce too much uric acid, or else your kidneys may excrete too little uric acid. The result is that uric acid may build up, which in turn forms sharp, needle-like urate crystals in a joint or the surrounding tissue. This can cause pain, inflammation, and swelling.
There are some risk factors that will increase your likelihood of developing gout. First, excessive alcohol use, such as more than two drinks of alcohol daily for men and more than one per women increases your risk of gout. Secondly, if you have certain medical conditions, such as untreated high blood pressure, diabetes, high levels of fat and cholesterol in the blood, and narrowing of the arteries, you are at greater risk. Some medications can increase your uric acid levels, such as the use of thiazide diuretics, low-dose aspirin, and anti-rejection drugs for people who have had an organ transplant. Also if you have had a family history of gout, you are at greater risk of developing it yourself. Gout also tends to occur more often in men than women since women tend to have lower uric acid levels than men. Men are also more likely to develop gout at an earlier age, such as between forty and fifty, while women usually develop their signs and symptoms of gout after menopause.
If you suspect that you have gout, and you are experiencing intense and sudden pain in a joint, be sure to call your doctor. If that gout goes untreated, it can lead to worsening pain as well as joint damage. If you have a fever and a joint is hot and inflamed, you may have an infection. In either case, be sure to seek medical attention.
A muscle cramp is both a sudden and involuntary contraction of one or more muscles. Muscle cramps can cause serious pain and leave you unable to make use of the muscles involved. Sometimes muscle cramps can be caused by overuse and dehydration during physical activity that takes place in warm weather. Medications and medical conditions can also cause muscle cramps.
One symptom of a muscle cramp is a sudden and sharp muscle pain in your legs. You may also see a hard lump of muscle tissue that you can feel or that is able to be seen beneath your skin. Muscle cramps will often disappear on their own, and are not usually serious enough to warrant medical care. Yet if your muscle cramps are severe and you are losing sleep, be sure to see your doctor.
There are a number of causes of muscle cramps. If you overuse the muscle, are dehydrated, or have strained a muscle, the result may be a muscle cramp. Muscle cramps in your legs can also result from inadequate blood supply. When the arteries narrow that deliver blood to your legs, they can produce cramp-like pain in your feet and your legs while you are exercising. These cramps will typically retreat after you stop exercising and stand still. Also, compression of the nerves in your spine can lead to cramp-like pain in your legs. This pain usually gets worse with the longer that you walk. Walking in a flexed position will actually improve your symptoms. A third cause for muscle cramps is mineral depletion. If you have too little potassium, calcium, or magnesium in your diet, it may result in leg cramps. Also some diuretic medications that are prescribed for high blood pressure can cause a loss of potassium. Muscle cramps can additionally be a part of conditions like nerve, kidney or hormone disorders, hypoglycemia, diabetes, and anemia.
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