Leg pain at night can be absolutely nothing to worry about, but it can also be a symptom of something medically serious. It is never good practice to use the Internet as a doctor or to diagnose yourself. It is important to get an informed medical opinion on any unusual symptom, including leg pain. That being said, leg pain at night could caused by a number of things, from simple growing pains to leg cramps to the more serious peripheral artery disease (PAD).
More than 25 percent of all children experience growing pains at some point in their lives. They wake up in the night crying that their legs are throbbing. There is no real cause for growing pains, and they tend to happen after a particular athletic day. It is thought that the pain is more muscular in nature than actual bone pain. The best thing you can do for your child is massage the area, apply heat and perhaps give him or her a children’s pain reliever. You may also want to try having your child do some simple stretches before bedtime. If the pains persist more than a couple of nights, be sure to make an appointment with a physician to rule out any more serious problems.
There are very few people who have not been woken up in the middle of the night with the dreaded charley horse leg cramp. These can be caused by any number of factors such as excessive exercise without stretching, long periods of standing, lack of electrolytes, pregnancy and being overweight. Immediate massage may help a bit, as can treating with heat. If they are starting to become chronic, try doing some stretches, drinking a glass of water and eating a banana before bed. This will keep you relaxed and hydrated and give you some potassium, which may help stop the cramping. If the cramping persists, see your doctor and he or she may prescribe a muscle relaxer.
Peripheral artery disease (PAD)
Peripheral artery disease is a serious circulatory condition where narrowed arteries reduce blood flow to the extremities. Leg pain can occur while walking, while at rest and at night. This can be an extremely dangerous disease as it is often a precursor to more serious heart disease, and sufferers of PAD are far more likely to have a heart attack than other members of the population. Other symptoms of PAD include toe or foot injuries that are slow to heal and a feeling of coldness or numbness in the legs. If you have these symptoms, see your doctor immediately.
The above are the three most common causes of leg pain at night, but there are more. Restless legs syndrome can cause pain, as can standing on your feet all day. Sometimes the best cure for leg pain at night is simply a good night's sleep.