Leg cramps during pregnancy

Dr. Ayush PandeyMBBS,PG Diploma

December 08, 2018

March 06, 2020

Leg cramps during pregnancy
Leg cramps during pregnancy

What are Leg Cramps during Pregnancy?

Leg cramps in pregnancy is an extremely common symptom and they are experienced by nearly 50% of pregnant women. Leg cramps usually occur in the evening or at night and are particularly common in the third trimester of pregnancy. They are painful, uncomfortable and may disrupt daily activities.

What are its main associated signs and symptoms?

Pregnancy is a stage where women experience several physical and mental changes, and leg cramps during pregnancy are generally not a  serious concern. They may not even have a clear cause. Other associated signs and symptoms seen with leg cramps include

Muscle pain usually lasts for a few seconds to a maximum of 10 minutes.

What are its main causes?

There is no specific cause for leg cramps during pregnancy; however, increased weight might be one of the reasons. Excess pressure on certain blood vessels due to the baby may reduce blood circulation in the legs. A cramp occurs when muscles suddenly contract. This also increases the risk of muscle strain. Certain mineral deficiencies like calcium and sodium may also trigger muscle cramps.

How is it diagnosed and treated?

A physician would usually diagnose the cause of the cramps by the presenting symptoms alone and physical examination.

Medicines may be prescribed for symptomatic relief, and mineral supplements may be included. In most cases, cramps are relieved extremely rapidly without much medical intervention.

Self-care tips:

  • Stretching of the calf muscles can help relieve calf cramps
  • Massages may ease out the pain
  • Plenty of water intake can help relieve muscle ache
  • Regular exercise can improve muscle cramps by reducing muscle and joint stiffness
  • Stockings can also be used to improve blood circulation.
  • Keeping your legs inclined can relieve intense pain
  • Heat applied externally can help in providing relief


  1. American Pregnancy Association. Pregnancy And Leg Cramps. [Internet]
  2. The Nemours Foundation. How Can I Relieve My Pregnancy Leg Cramps?. Larissa Hirsch; [Internet]
  3. Zhou K et al. Interventions for leg cramps during pregnancy. The Cochrane Collaboration; [Internet]
  4. The Open University. Leg cramps. England; [Internet]
  5. Cleveland Clinic. [Internet]. Cleveland, Ohio. Pregnancy: Having a Healthy Pregnancy