Sunday, February 21, 2010

Sleep apnea and nocturnal leg cramps

Ever since I was young I had problems with cramps in my legs and toes while I was sleeping. They would be so bad that I couldn’t get out of bed in the morning. I would have to wait in agony till the muscles relaxed. Even today I still have those problems. I really have to wonder if sleep apnea has any thing to do with this.

What is Peripheral nerve damage?

Peripheral nerve damage is when there is an interruption in the messages that go from your peripheral nerves and your brain and spinal cord. There are over a 100 different types of peripheral nerve disorders. The symptoms could be such things as numbness, pain, muscle weakness and a burning sensation.

According to this Pubmed.gov article there might be a connection between peripheral nerve damage and sleep apnea. Diabetes is a common cause of peripheral neuropathies.

Just a clarification, nocturnal leg cramps is different from Restless leg syndrome. RLS may involve the upper arm and the feet, whereas leg cramps are mostly found in the calves and upper legs. With leg cramps the pain is excruciating at first and can be relieved by working the muscles and by pressing down on the feet. In my case it seems to help more when I massage the muscles. RLS isn’t suddenly painful but of course it is very tiring. And RLS can occur all night whereas leg cramps are over after a few minutes.


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