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Nocturnal cramps and muscle pain at night
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Woman having neck pain upon waking up.


Nocturnal cramps and muscle pain at night

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For some time now, you have been experiencing muscle and joint pain at night, and this is playing more and more on your energy level because your sleep is not restorative. Many parts of the body can be affected by pain at night, here are the causes and ways to treat them.

What is muscle pain?

Muscle pain, also called myalgia, is any pain felt in the fleshy part of a muscle.

The origins of myalgia are diverse and varied: stiff muscles (hypertonia), various non serious muscular traumas (aches and pains), or a disease, such as the classic flu and its unavoidable back pain. This type of pain can be localized (e.g. torticollis), or more general, such as in the case of intense sports activities that involve all the muscles of the body. The symptoms are simple to detect, painful and/or stiff muscles, difficulty performing movements that require these muscles, or numbness.

What about cramps?

Cramps are quite different from muscle pain. They are musculoskeletal problems that result in contractions of the affected muscle and are involuntary, intense and temporary. For a short period of time, you are unable to control your muscle, which is strongly contracted, and the pain may be more or less intense: a cramp therefore necessarily includes myalgia. On the plus side, most of them are benign.

The origin of nocturnal muscle cramps is often complex and composite. Blood circulation problems, poor vascularization in the muscle, excessive lactic acid production or insufficient hydration: the factors responsible for cramps are diverse and often combined. The main characteristic of a cramp, however, is that it occurs without warning signs. Cramps can be of several types: they can result from intense sports practice or be related to the metabolism. Indeed, the lack of magnesium can influence night cramps, as well as dehydration, potassium, or vitamin B1, B5 or B6 deficiency, or the cold, which decreases blood circulation. They can finally be the sign of more chronic pathologies, such as diabetes, or vascular problems at the arterial level in the lower limbs (episodic claudication). In a more general way, cramps during the night are more frequent in certain populations such as pregnant women, athletes, or seniors.

Older woman suffering from back pain in bedroom at home

Muscle pain: localization and remedies you can try without going to see a doctor immediately.

In this section, we will discuss the pain you may experience literally during and/or after your night!

Cervical pain at night: definition, causes and solutions to neck pain.

As the name suggests, it is a localized pain in the cervical area. It can extend from your upper back to your neck.

This type of pain is often the result of poor posture, which can cause the muscles in your upper body to tense up and be responsible for your neck pain. This is the main cause of this type of pain. Stress can also be a factor, especially if it agitates your sleep and strains the muscle groups in your neck. The general symptoms associated with stress are pain localized to the neck, making it difficult to execute certain movements in this area.

The pain normally resolves itself in a few days or weeks and is inconsequential. If it doesn't and the painful area is muscular, try stretching or massage. Both can be helpful. The best thing is to prevent it with well-known methods: avoid sources of anxiety or chronic stress by using relaxation methods, or sleep on a mattress and pillow that allows for perfect body alignment while remaining comfortable.

Back pain at night... and in the morning: here are the solutions!

Back pain can be divided into two categories:

  • Thoracic back pain (dorsalgia), which encompasses pain located above the D12 vertebra, including pain in the middle of the back and between the shoulder blades.

  • Lower back pain (lumbago), pain located around vertebrae not attached to a rib (vertebrae D12 to S1).


Lady Suffering From Pain In Lower Back Sitting On Bed At Home

Lumbago or low back pain

Lower back pain, the most common and benign back problem, can be acute or chronic. Acute low back pain usually lasts a maximum of 4 weeks, and usually subsides or disappears on its own: this is the famous lumbago or "crick" in the back.

Chronic low back pain, on the other hand, lasts for more than three months and is more difficult to diagnose. But do not worry, only 5 to 8% of low back pain develops into chronic lumbago.

The first reflex when suffering from back pain only at night is to blame the mattress or sleeping position. However, they are usually only aggravating or triggering factors. In fact, among the primary causes responsible for low back pain is often a lack of physical activity, or poor posture in the medium to long term. Intense and/or unusual exertion for the individual can also cause it.

Among the solutions, the first thing would be to add a mattress and a cushion that allows a perfect alignment of the body so as not to stress the painful areas, especially in the case of muscular low back pain. You can also rectify your sleeping position. If you tend to suffer for hip pain at night while lying on your side, don't "curl up" by bringing your knees closer to your chest, instead stretch out your legs. Also, your level of physical activity can affect your posture. If you are sedentary, keep fit by practicing moderate activities that will prevent you from sitting still. Also make sure that you work in an ergonomic position, and if you don't, consider changing office chairs!

Massaging the painful area can also help, especially with pain creams, or the famous Asian remedy: Tiger Balm. Some concoctions of relaxing essential oils, especially to treat lumbago, also seem to work well for some people.

Woman with back and neck pain sitting on the sofa in the living room at home

Shoulder pain at night: main cause and relief of omalgia.

The shoulder is complex, it is composed of two "gliding" zones and three ligaments (glenohumeral, acromioclavicular and sterno-clavicular). The causes of shoulder pain can therefore be complex and multiple. In most cases, it is a question of damage to the rotator cuff, a sort of group of tendons where the tendons of four muscles converge. People who sleep on their side at night may also experience long-term pain in the left or right shoulder if it is not properly supported.

In any case, the first reflex will be to consult a health care professional because of the constant solicitation of our shoulders on a daily basis. Indeed, given the complexity of this part of the body, you will have difficulty, as we all do, putting your finger on the problem. Although not all the pains described above are strictly speaking myalgia, they are in some way an extension of it since they concern the tendons of the muscles connected to the shoulders. They can also radiate into the muscle itself, causing the same level of discomfort.

While waiting to consult, a few gestures can help you relieve shoulder pain at night, starting with a proper sleeping position. For example, if you sleep on your side, you can put on a bolster, or a specially designed body pillow, to provide maximum support for your shoulders. For example, do not sleep with your arm above your head/with your shoulder supporting your head, and sleep on the side that does not hurt. You can then place a large cushion under the affected shoulder so that your arm can rest on it. If the problem persists, do not wait: QUICKLY CONSULT A PHYSICIAN!

Woman tired with shoulder pain

Leg pain at night: the cause of calf cramps at night.

Nighttime muscle cramps most often affect the legs, especially the calves.

Often linked to a deficiency in essential elements such as potassium or vitamins, the first thing to do is to correct your electrolyte imbalances. Depending on the situation and your medical condition, you may be able to take supplements available in pharmacies. However, we recommend that you first ask the pharmacist, or even better, consult your family doctor beforehand to make sure that there will be no interaction between the targeted supplement and your usual medication. Hydration with water is also an excellent way to avoid cramps. Indeed, an insufficient hydration will make you more at risk to contract cramps unexpectedly. So, drink 1.5 liters of water daily! Also, while you sleep, make sure that your blankets at the foot of the bed are loose. This will prevent a potentially prolonged contraction of the leg muscles, especially the calf.

Finally, when a cramp occurs, several solutions are possible. The first is to gradually stretch the muscle group. Not pleasant, but it is a solution that works! For example, for the calves, put your hands on a wall with your arms stretched out in front of you and stand up. Once in this position, move the leg with the cramped calf backwards, stretching it backwards, keeping the leg straight and with your foot flat on the floor. You can also take a hot shower, applying water for a good five minutes to the contracted muscle area, or better yet, take a hot bath!

What are the effects of stress on sleep?

Treatment of nocturnal muscle cramps

Ultimately, the muscle aches and cramps that affect you at night are very unpleasant since they can really affect your sleep. But in light of the cases considered in the above content, they are often not very serious, and can be treated with simple solutions that you can adopt on your own. However, it is always advisable to consult if the difficulties you are experiencing persist, or for any other painful condition. If, on the other hand, you are sure that your mattress is at issue, visit our collection or contact us for advice!

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