Inner thigh cramps thread.
Please continue posting within this thread.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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.
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.
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.
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.