Factors associated with night-time calf muscle cramps: a case-control study

Muscle Nerve. 2013 Mar;47(3):339-43. doi: 10.1002/mus.23531. Epub 2012 Nov 21.


Introduction: Although highly prevalent and painful, night-time calf muscle cramping is poorly understood, and no treatment has shown consistent efficacy or safety.

Methods: One hundred sixty adults were recruited from New South Wales, Australia, including 80 who had night-time calf cramping at least once per week and 80 age- and gender-matched adults who did not. Participants were assessed using reliable tests of lower limb strength, flexibility, morphometrics, circulation, and sensation, and were questioned about health and lifestyle factors, diet, medications, exercise, symptomatology, sleeping habits, and footwear.

Results: Conditional logistic regression identified 3 factors independently associated with night-time calf muscle cramps: muscle twitching (OR 4.6, 95% CI 1.6-15.5, P = 0.01); lower limb tingling (OR 4.1, 95% CI 1.6-10.3, P = 0.003); and foot dorsiflexion weakness (OR 1.02, 95% CI 1.01-1.03, P = 0.002), which represented other measures of lower limb weakness in the model.

Conclusions: Night-time calf muscle cramps were associated with markers of neurological dysfunction and potential musculoskeletal therapeutic targets.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Blood Circulation
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Diet
  • Exercise / physiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Muscle Strength / physiology
  • Muscle Strength Dynamometer
  • New South Wales / epidemiology
  • Odds Ratio
  • Podiatry
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Sleep-Wake Transition Disorders / diagnosis
  • Sleep-Wake Transition Disorders / epidemiology
  • Sleep-Wake Transition Disorders / physiopathology*