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This post is an extension of the

Inner thigh cramps thread.

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Hi:
I haven't seen the other thread, but I'd like to try to be helpful. If you are an athlete, of course this could simply be muscle strain. Could you have some nerve damage that could be causing this problem. If you don't exercise or don't suspect a muscle strain, perhaps you should consult your doctor about an exercise program to strengthen the muscles in that area. Again, I apologize if this is not helpful, as I have not seen your original post. I just wanted to present some helpful thoughts. Best wishes...Please let us know.
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I just found this website. I also have the deep leg cramps that wake me from an Ambien induced sleep. I find that a tall glass of OJ as well as a banana or two helps. The pain is awful.

I am a 48 year old woman who is considered thin so I don't think weight is an issue.

My condolences to all who have posted on these two threads.

laurafromli
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Thank you all, on this thread and the previous ones, for:
l) reassuring me that I'm not nuts
2) that my physician is not more of a quack than the others
3) all those remedies! I'm going to try the Peppermint Essential Oil, the dill pickle juice, and the electrolyte pills, and the magnesium... in what order or all together, I don't know
4) quinine was also the only thing that worked for me in the past- but I haven't had the deep inner thigh pain when the quinine was available- but it worked on all the lower leg/calf/foot pains. I wish someone at the FDA would read all these posts (I wouldn't wish this pain on them!).
My story is essentially the same as all of yours, so I won't post the details (I will note that I have that "gotta pee right now" problem that someone else noted- and in fact have had the cramp subside and then return when I bend to a sitting position- then there's nothing you can do- can't get up, etc.).... thanks again to everyone.
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Since I posted thanking everyone for their information, I thought it through and decided to try the only anti-infamatory I have I on hand until I can try some of the other remedies mentioned when payday rolls around.
I am happy to report that 2 ibuprofen worked really well on that "day after" cramp feeling, which I have for several days after the cramp. It was amazing to wake up, move, drive the car, etc., and not have that feeling that a cramp was going to happen soon. I guess there are probably different reasons for the cramps, but I, like some of you, had changed my sleeping position due to knee pain and the cramps seemed to start after that. I also have really bad varicose veins- even in my feet. Now, the ibuprofen doesn't seem to work on the cramps in my toes, calves, and arch of my foot- but it really did alleviate that "day after" feeling in my thigh. Not saying it's an answer for everyone, but it might work for some of you who can take ibuprofen.
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I recently spent an hour with a neurologist trying to discover the root of my nocturnal leg cramps, but doctors don't seem to know what causes them. In my case, I'm type 2 diabetic, obese, high blood pressure, fibromyalgia, sleep apnea, periodic limb movement disorder, restless leg syndrome, nocturnal bruxism, TMJ, migraines. My mother, 81, also has them occasionally, but she was not diabetic until her late 70s and is only slightly overweight. The thing we have in common is back problems. I recently had an MRI that showed disc degeneration in my lumbar spine with an anular tear. I have had sciatica-type pain in my left hip for about five years and I now have low-back pain, as well. I have widespread muscle pain and soreness.

Although doctors seem not to know the cause of my muscle spams, I have a stong sense that the cause is neurological or nerve-related. I know another woman who is having thigh cramps right now; she has spinal stenosis.

My painful leg cramps for the past 10 to 15 years were usually in my shins (front of my legs) rather than calves (charley horses), almost always at night, and periodic. Recently though, I was waking two or three times a night for three weeks in a row with these painful shin cramps. These abruptly stopped for no apparent reason. I sometimes get one when driving, in my driving leg, especially in stop-start traffic.

But now I'm having inner thigh cramps. Until now I'd only had one, about a year ago, upon awakening, lying on my right side and reaching for the alarm clock. I had another recently, though, after only lying down on a sofa on my right side for just a few minutes. Then I had another, longer and more painful one yesterday after napping. My thigh is very tender, and I'm constantly on alert for another to strike.

I have had two lumbar epidurals and a spinal block recently, but while these have helped somewhat with back and hip pain, they have not stopped the muscle spasms. As someone in an earlier post mentioned, the muscles are flexed so tight (involuntarily) that it looks like I'm posing for a bodybuilding competition. The pain is excruciating. Hot water helps my shin cramps, but I feel more bed-ridden with thigh cramps, less able to stand. I live alone, and I'm nervous about the idea of one striking and my being in agony for a long period of time.

The neurologist I saw suggested vitamin E and stretching before bedtime as the first course of action. Then Benadryl as a second step. I hope they work.
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I've also had these "take-your-breath-away" excruciating inner thigh cramps for at least 10 years. They are usually worse in warm weather, but only occur AFTER my muscles have cooled down after exercise.... usually at night. When they occur, they are often unilateral (happening on one side) at a time, but I have had them in both legs. Most occur in my left leg. Often they occur when I attempt to get up from laying down. When they are severe, I cannot move... cannot straighten up, cannot stretch my leg in any position, cannot sit or lay down, cannot walk. It feels like some kind of seizure almost. I can barely breathe the pain is so intense. Sometimes they peak for 10 minutes, but may last as long as 30... sometimes they lessen slightly for a few moments only to come back with full force. Changing my physical position is essential to release the cramp... often I need help to do this. Then, I must keep moving despite the horrific pain to force the cramp to subside.

TRIGGERS/PREVENTION
I have been evaluated by internists, a neurologist, physical therapists, and orthopedists. No one has been able to explain the triggers although some specific conditions have been ruled out as causes. In addition to blood work over the years, I have had MRIs, doppler studies and other imaging studies but nothing done so far has shown an underlying problem that is responsible.

Warm humid weather seems to be the most common time for these cramps. I have sometimes gone several months in cool weather without them. I exercise a lot year-round, aerobic dance & lots of cardio, including stretching and strengthening. Without question, warm humid weather is the worst. Some researchers have established this connection and even noted that the atmospheric dew-point can be a factor in predicting cramping. However, I have also had them relaxing in the pool in cool water. So temperature may be a factor, but not a cause.

Not all episodes follow exercise. So exercise may be a factor, but not a cause.

Hydration/Dehydration (before AND after exercise) is something I pay a lot of attention to in any case... however, drinking lots of water itself does not seem to prevent the attacks. I have tried drinking gatoraide, caffiene, pedialyte, and various juices like orange juice in significant quantities when I feel susceptible to an attack, but that has not always prevented them either. (I avoid dairy products when I think I am susceptible.) I sweat normally. So hydration/de-hydration may be a factor, but not a cause.

Minerals and vitamins do seem to play a role. I take multi-vitamins, magnesium, calcium, potassium, and others regularly to help avoid or reduce the severity of the cramps. My blood work always shows normal levels of everything, despite having cramps, so I do not know how much of a factor they are.

Position seems to be a significant factor. When I am laying down on my side (either) and then attempt to move/get up, I am most likely to have an attack.

Time of day seems to be a significant factor... almost always happen at night.

TREATMENT
In the beginning, I took OTC quinine, prescription quinine, additional supplements like magnesium, potassium and even salt. I increased my water intake before and after exercise. While these things help(ed) to some degree, they do not prevent the cramp attack and do not help when I am actually having one.

In addition to walking and aerobics, I do targeted muscle strengthening and stretches for my thighs (directed by my physical therapist & trainer) along with my regular routine 5 days a week. I do extra stretches when I feel the need. Even when I was a lot less active and lots heavier I had these cramps. But, stretching feels good and helps once the peak has passed.

I was prescribed Lyrica, but the side effects were awful for me. I had to stop taking it. I do not know if longer-term use would have helped. The presumption of using it was a neurological cause.

Moist heat helps to loosen the affected area during a cramp. Either I or someone else throws a wet towel in the microwave for 2 minutes and then applies it to the thigh. Usually the cramp will begin to resolve over several minutes. The problem is that I cannot always get to the kitchen. Moist heat seems to bring the most immediate relief along with elongating the thigh by stretching when that becomes possible.

Moving is critical (getting out of the cramped/locked position). But moving and stretching is not always possible until the cramp has begun to subside because the thigh is rock-hard and constricted during the peak of the cramp. I often need to be pulled out of the cramped position (can't do it alone).

Ice has been recommended, but I have not applied it during a cramp, only following one.

Breathing is often very difficult during a cramp, it can really take my breath away. But controlled deep breathing afterward seems to help re-oxygenate the muscles & helps me relax. I probably hyperventilate during an attack (I know I swear!)

Pain meds &/or muscle relaxers actually seem to contribute to the problem if I take them to avoid a cramp. They help afterward, though.

Massage helps. Even pounding on my thigh with my fist helps. Maybe that helps blood get to the muscle or interrupt the contraction. Don't know.

TENS unit.... I now use an electrostimulator called a TENS to help prevent the muscle from cramping in the first place, if possible. This came about through physical therapy. So, before trying to order one, have PT and discuss this with a physycal therapist so they can show you how to use it properly and where/how to place the electrodes. The TENS pulses the thigh and seems to mix up the signals for the muscle to cramp, keeping it in more of a relaxed mode. Besides moist heat and stretching, this is the most effective treatment. I still get surprise attacks, but the TENS unit has mad a difference.


I wish someone really knew what this problem is, what causes it and how to most effectively treat it. People who have it know how truly awful it is... and there seem to be plenty of us out there. Even after studying anatomy, I'm not even sure precisely which muscles are affected in my own legs (there are 3 that intersect where mine occur), but I know it is the same place every time.

If you are reading this, then you are probably a fellow sufferer. I'm sorry for your pain.
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Since posting recently, I have had some of my worst inner thigh cramps since they started several years ago. This one particular episode so intense, it affected both thighs equally and even the front of my calves and tops of feet were cramping/seizing along with my thighs. I honestly thought I would pass out this time from the pain. Hot moist towels (which usually help somewhat within a few minutes) did nothing this time. Out of panic & desperation, I tried something my physical therapist had suggested but has always seemed counter-intuitive to me... ICE. Thankfully my husband was here to help & get the ice since I was essentially paralyzed. * Immediately the cramps stopped. * My legs continued to hurt and were still a hair-trigger from re-cramping for several hours, but the gripping & paralyzing cramps released within seconds. I was shocked. Nothing has ever helped so quickly. I was/am amazed... and thankful.

Since the other night's horror, I've been using my TENS unit along with ice the past few nights to *prevent* the nightmare of these awful cramps. So far, the combination has helped. I've also been doing lunge stretches and that seems to help keep the inner thigh from getting too tight.

Hope this helps someone.

*** edited by moderator*** web addresses not allowed
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I had my first thigh cramp last night and almost called 911. It was horrible and I felt terrible nausea with it. I couldn't stand up; could barely breathe. it was terribly frightening. I hope to God it never happens again.

I have spinal stenosis and had spine surgery in February as I had a disc pressing a nerve to the point I could barely walk due to pain in right ankle. Bone was removed, the nerve released, but since late June have had knee and shin pain in left leg and then the cramping in left thigh last night.
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Update to previous posts, I have subsequently used ice to treat the thighs during an attack but to a somewhat lesser degree of success than the very first time I tried it. (The first time was instantaneous relief). Subsequent use of ice may not completely stop the attacks, but seemed to help resolve them sooner (e.g., 5-10 minutes vs. 20) and may be decreasing the frequency of them (once every 10 days rather than daily).

Recently, I have also begun to forcefully grab one thigh above the knee and with the other hand also grab the inner thigh below the groin and simultaneously squeeze (hard) and push the muscle together in the middle… then hold for at least 5 seconds & repeat as necessary. This has helped, too. (Complicated when it is both legs & I can barely breathe). There is science behind this strategy that I won't go into today, but it has helped A LOT!

I also have gotten into the habit of putting ice on my legs at night to prevent them, which seems to have some benefit.

I have also added a supplement someone recommended here called “Endurox Excel” which is Vitamin E with Ciwujia root, and most recently added the electrolyte replenisher the same company makes, as well.

It seems, from recent research I have done, that this might be a * Lactic Acid * build-up problem… either by itself or in combination with other variables. I have changed my workouts & general activities to more of an “interval training” approach… varying the intensity of what I do to allow lactic acid to clear. I don’t know if this what of these recent changes is making a difference (ice, supplements, interval training approach) but it’s been a week and I haven’t had a full-blown attack.

Also I am looking at the role of strength & flexibility (some suggest weak muscles cramp more easily) and also the possible role of hip muscles in all this. Quads & hamstrings work together, but since this is the inner thigh I’m actually not sure what muscles are really involved in this tender area. So, I am seeing my physical therapist to help assess & define the problem in proper medial terms, get his opinion, and talk to him about a physical therapy or sports medicine as a possible path toward relief.

***** Follow-up *****

Saw my physical therapist yesterday. He's known me for several years for different reason and knows my PT history & past problems/condition. He said my leg, hip, abdominal and derriere muscles are all strong, flexible & in good condition, no obvious deficiencies *except* a slight deficiency in the adductor (inner thigh) muscle which we will address through targeted strengthening exercises. Weaker muscles tend to cramp, as do over-used ones, so strengthening may help bring relief over time.

He agrees that lactic acid may indeed be a strong factor in my case. (Some people like professional athletes seem naturally clear lactic acid quickly, contributing to their success). Giving the muscles brief periods of recovery from exercise through interval training & TENS stimulation may also be helping to clear some of the lactic acid. I am curious, though, why the lactic acid would only build up in this specific thigh area & not in other parts of the body. Also, why do I get the cramps even when I have not been physically active?

I have continued massaging my legs lightly with a tennis ball to loosen/relax the muscles (pressing in a circular motion going down the leg, not up). Besides relaxing the muscles, this massage also move residual lactic acid trapped there, still using ice & TENS, lots of hydration, supplements and interval training... all to PREVENT an attack. So far, a week has passed without another attack (some tightness, but no full-blown attacks/cramps). The tennis ball massage feels great, by the way.

Also, I have asked him for specific ways to effectively MANAGE (relieve/interrupt) an attack once it starts. I will be doing physical therapy for the next 6 weeks, including PT deep massage of the adductors in particular, plus exercises, etc. He recommends continuing my normal strength training workout, aerobic & dance routines. I'm always OK when I am moving, it is when I stop that I have these horrific cramp attacks.

Will keep you posted. Hope today is pain free for you.
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Hi Jbourke, thanks for the VERY extensive update. The one part of your post that struck me is that your PT said that it is based on lactic acid in your muscles. Lactic acid is NOT a factor in muscle soreness despite what is commonly believed. It was debunked in medical studies quite a few years ago and I'm surprised that your PT believes in it still. That would possibly explain to you at least that it's not related to exercise. Does that help?
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Hi Healthnfitnessguy...

Thanks very much for your post. Please understand we are NOT talking about general perceived muscle soreness here. We ARE talking about very site-specific focused intense cramps that have a beginning/peak/end, can last up to 20 minutes, and cause EXTREME pain during the event (not soreness). Any generalized soreness that may occur comes well after the cramp has ended. I have looked at some of the studies you referred which say moderate lactic acid may not have anything to do with causing muscle "soreness," which may well be true although unproven, but I can't say this more clearly: these cramps are exponentially different from simple soreness.

If you read further in some of the same studies, they refer to a presumed "benefit" (depends on who is judging) of lactic acid build-up is that it may actually cause muscles to contract more efficiently... hmmm, contractions in the extreme are cramps. This doesn't prove a relationship, but it simply suggests there may be a connection between lactic acid build-up and muscle contractions.

Thanks for helping to show that these cramps are, indeed, quite different than tired sore muscles. Those of us who have this problem are quite desperately / urgently seeking answers & want: 1) relief & intervention/interruption of the intense cramp; 2) an explanation, if possible; 3) a strategy to avoid having one ever again.
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Hi jbourke, absolutely no problem at all. I think that a lot of people aren't aware of this as an issue and it's probably why so many people are not able to help. I have suffered from similar issues in the past, but it's not enough at this point to warrant attention because it only strikes me once a year or so. Did that happen to you at first and get worse?
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I had been jumping out of bed 4 or 5 times a night to avoid cramp. mainly in my feet. Then 10 nights ago I experienced the most severe cramp in my inner thigh. It felt like it was coming from the centre of my thigh and I was crying out in pain and panic. It left me very shaken.

After it passed, I came downstairs for a couple of hours and surfed the internet for advice. I found this website, and while I did not find the advice I wanted, I saw that I was not alone in having severe cramps. I have registered here today so that I can tell you what has helped me.

My daughter told me that she has had night cramps in her feet for years but since she began taking 2 Calcium & Vitamin D pills each day for the past 5 months she has never experienced cramp. I began taking this pill 9 days ago and have never felt a cramp since. I realise now that the severe cramp was in a varicose vein on the outside of my inner thigh.

I know Calcium is for bones but it seems it also keeps muscles fit. Buy them in the supermarket but make sure they are 800gs calcium and 5??g Vitamin D. (sorry, cannot read the later but it's the calcium amount that is important) Take 2 each day. Of course, if you are already on medication, check with your pharmacist first

it's great to be able to stretch in bed again without fear of bringing on another wretched cramp. Do hope this info helps others.
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Hi mamma2, I think what you'er saying is totally accurate. Calcium is a key part of muscles as well so it does have an impact. Thanks for mentioning your findings though. Keep us posted okay?
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