Doctor perscribed Elavil, which is an antidepressent, I thought.
Amitriptyline is a prescription drug licensed for the treatment of depression. Besides treating depression, the drug is also used "off-label" to treat a number of conditions, including ADHD, bulimia, nerve pain and fibromyalgia.
Low-dose amitriptyline has been successfully used to treat night time leg spasms and is frequently used to treat neuropathic (nerve) pain.
See the link below for other medicines used to treat leg cramps.
Nighttime leg cramps are different from another common nighttime leg problem called restless legs syndrome. With restless legs syndrome, your legs feel fidgety or crawly unless you move them. For more information, see the topic Restless Legs Syndrome.
What are nighttime leg cramps?
Nighttime (or nocturnal) leg cramps are usually sudden spasms, or tightening, of muscles in the calf. But the muscle cramps can sometimes happen in the thigh or the foot. They often occur just as you are falling asleep or waking up. These painful cramps can last a few seconds to a few minutes.
These leg cramps are also called charley horses.
What causes nighttime leg cramps?
Though nighttime leg cramps are common, experts don't know exactly what causes them. But most of the time it is not because of illness. Some of the things that may cause leg cramps include:
Getting too much exercise or overusing the muscles.
Standing on concrete for a long time, sitting for a long time, or putting your legs in awkward positions while you sleep.
Not having enough potassium, calcium, and other minerals in your blood.
Being dehydrated, which means your body has lost too much fluid.
Taking certain medicines, such as antipsychotics, birth control pills, diuretics, statins, and steroids.
Having flat feet.
Having thyroid disease.
How can you stop a nighttime leg cramp when it happens?
You may need to try several different ways to stop a leg cramp before you find what works best for you. Here are some things you can try:
Walk around, or jiggle your leg.
Stretch your calf muscles. You can do this stretch while you sit or stand: While sitting, straighten your leg and flex your foot up toward your knee. It may help to place a rolled towel under the ball of your foot and, while holding the towel at both ends, gently pull the towel toward you while keeping your knee straight.
While standing about 2 ft (0.6 m) from a wall, lean forward against the wall. Keep the knee of the affected leg straight and the heel on the ground. Do this while you bend the knee of the other leg. See a picture of how to do this calf stretch .
These exercises stretch your calf muscles, and you will probably feel the leg cramp go away after a few minutes.
Some people find that a hot shower or a warm bath helps. Others get relief by rubbing the calf with an ice pack.
How can you prevent them?
Use these tips to help prevent nighttime leg cramps:
Drink plenty of water and other fluids during the day.
Limit or avoid drinks with alcohol or caffeine. These can make you dehydrated, which means your body has lost too much fluid.
Make sure you are eating healthy foods (especially if you are pregnant) that are rich in calcium, potassium, and magnesium.
Ride a stationary bike to condition and stretch your muscles.
Stretch your leg muscles for a few minutes before you go to bed.
If you are taking medicines that are known to cause leg cramps, your doctor may prescribe different medicines.
If your leg cramps bother you a lot, your doctor may prescribe medicines that calm leg nerves or relax the muscles.
What if nighttime leg cramps keep coming back?
Talk with your doctor if you have muscle cramps that keep coming back, are severe, or occur in other muscles of your body. These may be symptoms of another problem.
I hope this helps.
The answers you have received are very helpful. My answer to the problem was to have a small bottle of tonic water next my bed from which I drank some of, next to my bed... it immediately got rid of the cramps. Getting out of bed and standing on the cramped leg always helped... hurts to move but move you must to get out of bed. I was taking a statin drug when this happened but no longer take the drug. The meds are sometimes the culprit but there are many reasons as stated in the other answers you received.
Elavil is an old, tricylic antidepressant, known for bothersome side effects. I would start by trying to nail down a definitive cause. Sciatica can cause leg cramps. So can calcium/magnesium imbalances. So the best treatment, hinges on the root cause. Some doctors prescribe quinine, or suggest tonic. Others newer, less problematic serotonin enhancing antidepressants, like generic escitalopram. Same effect on neuropathic pain, far fewer side effects.
Theres a topical foam called theraworx, which can do wonders. About 13-14$ a bottle, and lasts for months. Pills of magnesium are cheap. But I can't over stress the importance of starting with an accurate diagnosis. I am in my 70's and started suffering from thigh cramps, about 2 years ago. I've had pretty good luck with theraworxs and magnesium and trying to find a calcium intake that will postpone osteoporosis, without making my cramps worse. I've actually had the cramps stop, within 30-40 seconds of applying the foam.
Best of luck.
- Elavil Information for Consumers
- Elavil Information for Healthcare Professionals (includes dosage details)
- Side Effects of Elavil (detailed)
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