Leg cramps are the sudden and involuntary contraction of the leg muscles. Painful muscle cramps in leg or foot that occur mostly after rigorous exercise, are commonly known as 'Charley horse'. Leg cramps are more frequently observed in children than in adults.
As mentioned above, strenuous exercise can result in leg cramps, which is often described as Charley horse. After exercise, muscles need a lot of time to regain their normal condition. When children have excess physical exercise or play, they experience cramps. It can even be due to fatigue which develops when the muscles are overworked.
Dehydration is another major cause. When there is no adequate amount of water in the body, lactic acid gets built up in cells which results in muscle cramps. Exercise and dehydration are closely related as exercise leads to excess perspiration, specially in summer, which consequently results in dehydration. On the other hand, loss of minerals and electrolytes also results in leg cramps at night.
Flat feet is an inborn physical condition, where the feet of the person are not arched. Therefore, while walking, entire pressure of the leg falls on the ankles, leading to leg pain. Having flat feet is not a common condition.
Sometimes, children may experience cramps due to sleeping in a wrong position, or even due to excess tiredness or weakness. On the other hand, in more serious cases, it can be a symptom of diseases like Addison's disease or Celiac disease, or even hypothyroidism. Apart from these causes, obesity is also considered as one of the prominent causes of frequent leg pain.
Once you get to know the cause, it can be easier to look for the remedy or treatment. Leg pain due to fatigue or weakness can be relieved by massage or keeping a hot water bottle under the leg. A warm bath can also help relieve pain. If it is found that leg cramps are due to exercise or sports activity, children must be advised to change their exercise pattern or take enough rest after play.
In case of rigid or extreme flat feet, one needs to consult a specialist and have a custom orthotics made that are specially meant to give suitable arch support. If frequent leg cramps are observed at night, it is better to consult the doctor as it can be a possible symptom of a serious disease.
It is advised to have adequate amount of water every day to avoid cramps occurring due to dehydration. Electrolyte supplements or foods rich in magnesium like banana should also be given to children regularly. Green leafy vegetables also help in maintaining proper mineral balance of the body. Maintaining proper posture while sleeping, sitting, and also while exercising is very essential.
Leg muscle cramps, in case of children, can be treated with medication and alternative treatment. One just needs to consult the doctor for an early and accurate diagnosis.
Disclaimer: This article is meant only to provide information. It does not, in any way, intend to replace the advice of a medical professional.