Association Between Alcohol Consumption and Nocturnal Leg Cramps in Patients Over 60 Years Old: A Case-Control Study

Ann Fam Med. 2018 Jul;16(4):296-301. doi: 10.1370/afm.2238.


Purpose: Nocturnal leg cramps are a specific kind of cramps affecting almost one-half of patients aged 60 years and older. They reduce patients' quality of sleep and have a negative impact on their quality of life. The aim of this study was to evaluate the association between nocturnal leg cramps and the consumption of alcoholic beverages in patients aged 60 years and older attending general practices.

Methods: Case-control study with a Bayesian approach for sensitivity analysis. Participants were voluntary ambulatory patients aged 60 years and older consulting their family doctor. They were recruited in 67 general practices across the Alsace region. Cases (patients having cramps), were matched with controls (patients free from cramps) for age, sex, medical history, and medications known to trigger cramps. Alcohol consumption was assessed through a standardized food frequency questionnaire.

Results: We found an association between the global consumption of alcoholic beverages and nocturnal leg cramps (OR = 6.5, 95% credibility interval, 1.68-38.05; posterior probability 99.82%).

Conclusion: We identified an association between alcohol consumption and nocturnal leg cramps among patients aged 60 years and older attending general practices. These findings have implications for the prevention of cramps.

Keywords: alcohol drinking; muscle cramp; primary health care.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Alcohol Drinking / adverse effects*
  • Bayes Theorem
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Female
  • France
  • General Practice
  • Humans
  • Linear Models
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Quality of Life
  • Sleep
  • Sleep-Wake Transition Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Sleep-Wake Transition Disorders / etiology*