Leg cramps can be defined as sudden, involuntary contractions of leg muscles. The problem is not a condition per se. Instead it can be a physiological response of the body to certain circumstances or develop as a symptom of different diseases. The problem affects both, adults and children.
What Causes Leg Cramps in Children?
In majority of cases leg cramps in children develop as a result of strenuous exercise. This is a normal physiological response of the body. If damage to muscles is more complex, the condition is refered to as Charley horse. It is a well-known fact that muscles require a lot of time to regain their normal structure and strength after exercising, particularly if it has been extensive. Apart from cramping, children additionally feel exhausted.
One more cause of leg cramping in children is dehydration. If the body does not contain sufficient amount of water, lactic acid starts to accumulate in cells which consequently leads to leg cramps. Even excessive perspiration without proper intake of water may induce electrolyte imbalance and induce cramping.
Flat Feet and Nocturnal Leg Cramps
Leg cramps also affect children suffering from flat feet. Namely, in this case the arch or the instep of the foot collapses and comes in contact with the ground. As a result, the entire pressure of the legs falls on the ankles and is a potential trigger for leg cramps.
When it comes to nocturnal leg cramps, cramps that occur during the night, they may be associated with a wrong posture or represent a symptom of more complex medical conditions. For instance, spending the night in an inadequate position is frequently blamed for leg cramps. On the other hand, the problem may originate form underlying diseases such as Addison's disease or even celiac disease. The problem is also connected with improper functioning of the thyroid gland (hypothyroidism).
Leg Cramps in Children Treatment
It is not hard to deal with leg cramps which occur due to excessive exercising or strenuous physical activity. It is sufficient enough to massage the affected area and apply hot compresses. A warm bath can be of additional help. If the problem repeats, it is essential to consult a professional and change an exercise regime.
Children with flat feet require proper treatment prescribed by an experienced podiatrist.
In case cramping continues, parents are due to consult a child's pediatrician who will investigate the issue more thoroughly.
Finally, it is possible to prevent leg cramping if the child drinks plenty of water, especially during hot weather. Electrolyte supplements in a form of foods such as bananas are also good for maintaining optimal electrolyte balance.