Leg muscle cramps especially at night are not unusual. They can affect anyone from time to time and not necessarily indicate a serious medical condition. When leg cramps become a regular problem and get worse and worse, they could denote a health problem. Otherwise, cramps that affect lower extremities are mainly caused by dehydration, fatigue, medicines and electrolyte imbalance. If they get frequent and severe, there is a chance that you have a vascular disease affecting your veins or arteries. The only sure way to find the true cause of your cramps is to get to the best vascular vein clinic near you.
How muscle cramps develop
Muscles are naturally designed to contract and relax as you go about your daily chores. The problems start when a muscle contracts and then it is unable to relax. The result is almost always an excruciating leg cramp. Then the painful sensation ends and the limb stops hurting. If you get occasional night leg cramps, this could be termed as normal. You can try to drink adequate water, reduce fatigue and inquire about the side effects of the drugs you are currently taking. These simple actions could stop your night cramps. On the other hand, if cramps become a real bother, ask a good vascular doctor in NYC like Dr. Michael Nguyen to intervene. It could be possible that you have varicose veins that are just beginning to come into sight.
When leg cramps increase with exercise
Leg cramping that gets severe when you try to exercise may actually mean that you have a more serious condition that needs to be investigated. For instance, if short walks are causing painful muscle cramps that end as soon as you take a rest, it could be that you have arterial disease. So, get tested by the top vascular doctor in NYC today. Testing for this disease is done via less invasive techniques and is good at detecting extremity artery blockage. If you are found to have a health problem called arterial claudication, your vascular doctor in NYC might advise you to quite smoking and carry out an arterial reconstruction procedure to try and cure you.
Could it be that you have a vein disease?
Night leg cramps that happen frequently cannot be termed as normal. They are one of the key signs of a vein disease. This type of cramping might also be caused by other factors, and this is something that only your vascular doctor in NYC can determine. Normally, healthy veins in legs are designed to return blood to the heart and lungs. The movement of this blood, which is deficient of oxygen and nutrients and high in waste products, occurs against gravity. It flows upwards towards the heart and lungs. This blood is then refilled with oxygen and nutrients and is circulated to the rest of the body via arteries.
In order for healthy blood circulation to occur, your calf muscle has to produce a powerful pumping action when it contracts. This forces the blood to move up the veins. And as the blood is pushed up the veins, one-way valves in them open and close and this ensures that none of it leaks and flows backward. If valves are impaired or damaged, they close partly and allow some of the blood to leak and flow backward. The blood will then pool in the vein and as more and more gathers, pressure will mount and force the vein walls to swell.
As this venous blood is already contaminated with waste products, it will cause leg cramps among other symptoms. Once this happens, you have a venous disease (also venous reflux disease or venous insufficiency condition) that needs to be investigated and treated before it begins to worsen. It is possible to have this disease without even seeing a single varicose vein or spider vein. But, when symptoms are there they will include swollen veins, night leg cramps, ankle swelling, fatigue, itching, blood clots and heaviness in legs and so on.
If you have noticed some of these symptoms, we would advise you to seek help from the top vascular doctor in NYC. This vein specialist, mainly a phlebologist, will do a diagnosis via non-invasive duplex ultrasound to detect problems with your blood flow in veins. If he or she finds out that you have varicose veins or spider veins, the next thing will be to start the treatment process.
Varicose veins and spider veins
The two are not the same, although they can both be triggered by venous disease. Varicose veins tend to be large, twisted and swollen with a blue or dark purple color. Their knotty and swollen appearance makes them easily noticeable when a person is standing up. When they lie down, enlarged varicose veins tend to disappear. These abnormal leg veins may appear without causing leg cramps and other symptoms yet the underlying disease is still progressing.
On the other hand, varicosities can display symptoms such as cramping pain, heaviness in legs, tiredness, swollen ankles, vein bleeding, blood clotting, venous ulcers, skin discoloration and change of texture and so on. If you have painful or painless varicose veins, we would ask you to get checked by the top vascular doctor in NYC.
As for spider veins, they are a smaller kind of varicose veins and their other names are telangiectasias or thread veins. These tend to affect an extensive area of the thigh, calf or lower leg and appear like visible blood capillaries. They tend to be red or blue and are very superficial. Spider veins rarely require medical attention unless they are causing discomfort and pain. Although they will alter the lovely appearance of your leg skin, they will rarely be a big bother.
And if you keep exercising, lifting your feet after work, taking regular breaks at work, you might notice that they are darkening and disappearing without treatment. When they cause symptoms, these include mostly night leg cramps, heaviness in legs, fatigue, itching, burning or throbbing pain, swelling around ankles and general discomfort in legs. If you combine the abovementioned techniques by wearing compression stockings, chances are that your varicose veins or spider veins will improve.
But, these stockings should not replace your appointment with a good vascular doctor in NYC. You still want to know whether there is a venous disease or another terrible disease affecting your veins or arteries.
Who gets varicose veins and/or spider veins?
While women are thought to be more prone to these, men suffer from them too. The first thing that could determine your level of risk is your family history with vein disease. Are there men and women who live with varicosities in your family? If so, your chances of experiencing the same problem are higher than anybody else’s. Next, if you are pregnant woman, you are in more danger of having vulva varicose veins and the best thing is that these will disappear after giving birth.
Varicose veins may also appear in your legs for the first time during pregnancy as your uterus grows and exerts more pressure on your leg veins. These abnormal leg veins might go away without treatment about three to twelve months after delivering your child. You can still tell your gynaecologist about it as he or she might refer you to a vascular doctor in NYC.
Still, a lady on hormonal contraceptives or hormonal replacement therapy is more susceptible than another who is not. Still on ladies and their risk for varicose veins and spider veins, many get them after reaching menopause. However, aging causes male and female veins to lose elasticity and this makes them stretch. This weakens the valves within them and these will in turn allow some blood to leak and gather in the veins in your ankles area.
Overweight or obese people are likely to develop these vein conditions simply because their excess weight exerts a lot of pressure on their leg veins, cause leg cramps and other symptoms. Finally, it is important to note that people who work while sitting down or standing up for several hours are in danger of having varicosities. Lack of movement all through the day interferes with proper blood circulation in legs. If you notice leg cramps and other related symptoms, don’t hesitate to seek medical help.
What complications can happen?
If you delay going to a vascular vein clinic now, chances are high that your varicose veins and spider veins will worsen. Once they do, complications will start developing and these may produce the worst symptoms you have ever experienced. These complications include the following:
- Venous leg ulcers – These will always start near varicose veins located closer to the ankles. They can hurt a lot too. Ulcers occur when tissue fluid has been building up for a long time and this is triggered by the ever increasing blood pressure in the affected leg veins. Before an ulcer begins, there will be a discoloured area on your skin and the best action to take is to see your vascular doctor in NYC right away. Venous ulcers are open wounds that refuse to heal for months and it is wise to make sure you don’t ever get them.
- Blood clotting – If some of your deep veins become varicose veins, they may cause leg swelling. This may indicate a medical emergency as the swelling may be caused by a blood clot in a deep vein. This condition is called thrombophlebitis and can be deadly if left untreated. Sometimes the clots will form closer to the skin surface, affecting your superficial leg veins. Such clots are not dangerous unless they enter your deep vein system.
- Bleeding – Varicose veins can cause this complication and it is the veins that are too close to the skin surface that burst and bleed. Even if the bleeding is trivial, you should call your vascular doctor in NYC just to make sure that the problem will not happen again in future.
- Venous eczema – This condition occurs when the lower leg area skin changes color and texture. It becomes harder, dry and flaky.
Apart from the aforesaid complications, there are others like loss of fat just beneath your calf and above your ankles. This condition, Lipodermatosclerosis, makes the skin tighter and thinner. The moment you notice that your night leg cramps have become frequent and severe, get in touch with a vascular doctor in NYC. This will ensure that your treatment begins early and complications such as the ones stated above are stopped from ever happening.
Most people start with the self-help strategy to see if their leg cramps and other symptoms will get better. Mostly they wear compression stockings to work, as these are known to boost blood circulation in legs. Medical grade compression stockings are extremely useful and you can buy them from a drugs store. In addition to wearing these, you should consider elevating your legs, walking regularly and taking frequent breaks when working. If you are overweight, consider altering your diet and make it healthier so as to lose excess weight.
If self-help methods don’t offer much help, it would be nice to seek medical help offered by the leading vascular doctor in NYC. If you have spider veins, chances are that your vein doctor will recommend sclerotherapy injections or endovenous laser ablation therapy. If done correctly, they are highly successful and helpful. In case you have varicose veins, the best minimally invasive treatment approach is radiofrequency ablation or RFA. This one entails the use of heat to damage the affected veins and it is over ninety percent effective. When venous ulcers have formed and worsened, there is a big chance that you will endure some sort of surgical treatment.
Leg cramps may just happen without any dangerous underlying cause. When there is a vascular disease affecting either the artery or vein, immediate medical help is a must. Otherwise, the cramping will continue and new symptoms like restless leg syndrome, ankle swelling and achiness will emerge. If these are ignored, varicose veins and/or spider veins will emerge and later on these will lead to severe complications.