Night-time leg cramps, calcium, high blood pressure

#1

Early yesterday morning I awoke with a start. My right calf knotted into a hardened mass of pain. It took me a while to be able to straighten my leg and get out of bed. I walked like an old man, oh yeah, I am an old man!

I’ve endured a long history with leg cramps and try as I may with various antidotes, I never found the silver bullet for me. Last summer I read an article written by Wil Dubois over at DiabetesMine about this topic. He described a couple of “silver bullet” solutions for muscle cramping.

But what if, despite your ounce of prevention, you still get a pound of cramps? Stretch, rub, and swear—then reach for the magic. I’ve found two silver bullets that can stop an ongoing cramp attack in its tracks.

The first is a calcium pill, but make sure it’s the liquid gel cap type. This quickly beefs up one of the key “electrolytes,” that when deficient, can trigger a cramp. Using a liquid cap, rather than a solid pill, gets the calcium into your system quicker. Within minutes, these magic pills can make a cramp attack disappear. A related option is one of those little packs of magnesium powder that you mix into some water and chug (added benefit: rehydration).

I didn’t pick up a calcium supplement until later in the day so I was unable to test Wil’s claim of stopping the cramp in its tracks. I took a dose before bed last night and didn’t have any cramps last night.

With my recent focus on heart health, I’ve been monitoring my blood pressure when I get up in the morning. I take blood pressure medicine and my blood pressure usually stays around 122/82 or less. I sometimes elevate to 130/90.

This morning however, my measurement was 159/103! I’ve never seen that high a level before. I quickly tried to account for this. I have missed my daily walk for the last few days and I’ve also haven’t meditated for a couple of days. But then I remembered taking the calcium supplement last evening before bed.

I did a quick Google search and found plenty of references to calcium supplements and hypertension. Like with most things with diabetes, I guess there’s always a downside to any helpful treatment.

Anyone else find calcium supplementation boosts their blood pressure to the stratosphere?

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#2

if potassium levels are low or dehydration is present, that’s another cause of the cramps. amazing that the first pill fixed it–that’s awesome.

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#3

Yeah, I’ve experimented with potassium supplements over the years and have not had much luck with them. I agree that dehydration must play some role, too. I’m trying to drink more water.

#4

I have a heck of a time making myself drink water. I like decaf diet sodas, a very low-carb V8 Splash drink, tea (hot or iced). But water? It’s tough for me to drink much of it.

#5

Terry - I know of no association between calcium supplements and hypertension.

I do know from my own experiences that if your potassium is low, it may need to be bumped (just eat some avocado in your salad tonight)

I found magnesium supplements were the best solution for my calf cramps (Magnesium Bisglycinate). Take it B.I.D. for 48 hrs, then at Q.D. (bedtime)

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#6

I’ve been taking a magnesium supplement for years with leg-cramps in mind. I don’t get leg cramps very often and I haven’t observed potassium or magnesium really affecting the situation. I recently started taking magnesium taurate for my heart health.

It appears to me that the calcium supplement helped with the cramping but at the cost of elevated blood pressure. I think what I might do is only treat when the episode occurs and then only take half the dose I took last night.

I really should start eating avocados more regularly. I like them and they’re so nutritious and easy on the glucose control. Thanks for the suggestion.

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#7

Eat bananas. They used to make a really good medication for this that was sold over the counter, but its gone now.

#8

While I know bananas are rich in potassium, they’re way over my carb budget. There are other food alternatives, like avocados, as someone suggested earlier. Potassium supplementation, however, hasn’t done the trick for me in the past.

Luckily, this is not an everyday problem, not even a once per month average frequency.

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#9

I also take a magnesium complex supplement. I learned about it on this forum :slight_smile: And I used Theraworx, too. Knock on wood, I haven’t had the horrendous cramps in weeks. Before, I was having multiple cramps a night. I also reduced my running, too, so that may also have an effect since I’m not straining my muscles as much.

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#10

I used to take Lisinopril and Hydrochlorothiazide (HCTZ - a diuretic) to combat my high blood pressure and I used to periodically get a calf cramp so bad that when it started in one calf, it spread to the other as well causing me terrible pain for several minutes until they subsided. Then I began seeing another doctor to monitor my kidney function and she switched me from the Lisinopril/HCTZ treatment to a Lisinopril/Spironolactone combo instead (along with also reducing the amount of salt and fluid input). Like magic, my leg cramps completely disappeared. I feel that this was my silver bullet!

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#11

Twisting your upper lip under your nose works instantly for me for cramps - It does not work for my wife

It is an acupuncture point - I heard about it years ago and it never fails

Here is a link - about a page down you will see what it is suppose to help with.

This easy-to-locate acupressure point is between your upper lip and your nose.

According to the Hearty Soul, this spot is great for:

  • Improving memory

Reducing cramps

  • Relieving dizziness
  • Aiding with concentration
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#12

Generally my triggers as well. Hydration and a balanced diet are the best preventative for me.

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#13

This is interesting, @Tony24. I will experiment and see if it might help me. Thanks for the suggestion and link.

#14

Twist the heck of that upper lip - it works for me right away - I heard it on the radio long ago -

Post if it works or not

#15

My leg cramps at night have always been due to dehydration. This can particularly be a problem after playing hockey that morning and I have just not consumed enough water through out the day. My cramps will appear between 11 pm - 1 am that night and once i drink enough water the cramps just go away.

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#16

I know hydration plays a role and your experience adds further motivation for me to stay well hydrated. I need to drink more water for other reasons, too.

#17

My Dr sent me for tests to determine if I have hyperaldosteronism, due to persistent high blood pressure and low potassium. She also prescribed potassium supplements.
Low potassium also causes cramping/knotting in calf and arch of foot!

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#18

Hi Terry: in one of the low carb books, I read about using slow absorbing magnesium (Slo Mag) + Vitamin D to prevent leg cramps. That works for me! Plus staying hydrated. Yes, we aren’t getting any younger :expressionless:

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#20

I have heard of restless leg syndrome, which involves symptoms that are similar to cramps which makes it difficult to diagnose. Anyways, I knew a nurse once that told me drinking water before bed always was good, as well as eating more potassium and vitamin d. I would assume calcium would be good too, it has a connection with vitamin d.

#21

I have experienced a few times in the last few weeks the relatively mild onset of symptoms that, in the past, often progressed quickly to severe cramping. I have tried @Tony24’s suggestion to pressure the upper lip with my fingertips and the progression of symptoms stopped. This is promising.

I’m also trying to drink more water and I’m sure that’s helping. Thanks for the tip, Tony.

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