a female runner on her back holding her thigh in pain from a leg cramp, leg cramp remedies

Q. What can I do to halt or prevent leg cramps? I get them regularly at night and even during the day. They occur only in the inner thigh of my left leg and occasionally in the left groin area. My friends have suggested eating more bananas. How many bananas a day would I need? What else can I do to prevent them? I’m becoming sleep deprived and need any advice you can offer.

A. Leg cramps can be excruciating and frequently interfere with sleep. We have collected dozens of remedies over the years to prevent or stop such cramps. They include low-sodium V-8 juice for extra potassium (an alternative to eating more bananas), a glass of tonic water at bedtime, a teaspoon of yellow mustard, vitamin and mineral supplements or a bar of soap under the bottom sheet.

We offer details on these and many other approaches, including instructions on how to stretch leg muscles before bed in our Guide to Leg Pain.

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  1. Carol K.

    I, too, suffered nightly from the most excrutiating pain of leg & feet cramps! I used the vinegar & mustard solution with instant relief. I looked for a better solution that would ‘prevent’ the cramps from even starting. I found that eating a Dill pickle spear in the evening, or drinking a couple tablespoons of pickle juice before bedtime REALLY does the job! No more waking up in the middle of the night with cramps! I still keep a small vial of pickle juice by my bedside, BUT have never needed it….so I think ‘preventing’ is a lot better and certainly a lot less painful than waiting for it to happen. By the way, I tested my theory by omitting my nightly ‘cocktail’, and sure enough was awakened with the most painful cramps. I am certain it’s the vinegar content, but enjoy the taste much more than mustard or vinegar!! BY THE WAY, my mother is 102 and SWEARS by eating a dill pickle (as well as carrots) everyday!! Hope this will be of some help to someone.

  2. Sarah
    Liberty TX

    I have had these inner thigh cramps for years. As of late I see them more commonly referred to as spasms. The only thing I know about them, and it may only relate to me in my case; but I know if I do not get enough water in the day I WILL have them that evening. Also, since it has been referred to as a spasm, I read that if you clamp your thighs together HARD, it makes the muscle relax and slip loose. But oh MY it HURTS SO BAD!!! Doubling over helps too but I think that is because in that position the inner thigh muscle is not stretched. Standing upright is the exact position that stretches that muscle and OWIE!!!

  3. TruBluz

    Having the same problem, but my cramps occur in my buttocks and hamstrings. I have fibromyalgia and of course have pain with it, but nothing compares to the pain associated with those muscle cramps.

    • Ann C

      Folic Acid – I have tried folic acid and stopped drinking alcohol and this has helped. I was on a low dose of anti-seizure medication for a short period and that is when the severe thigh and groin cramps started. Alcohol and some medications may cause decreased folate in the body. I have started the high absorption magnesium and the apple cider vinegar as well.

  4. Burnette

    I have had the same cramps as described. Go to your health store and ask for the Hylands cramp pills. They do help. Also, keep a bar of soap under your bedspread and sometimes I put a small piece in a sock and wear it to bed…Rub it on the cramp when it starts…I have tried so many things and some work, the Amish cramp tonic works well. Google it.

  5. Carol

    I have been suffering with severe leg and groin cramps. I have come to believe it is an imbalance of minerals. I have tried soooo many suggestions and until now nothing has worked. When I feel a muscle in my upper leg or groin getting tight, I immediately take Magnesium L- Threonate, because it has the highest absorption of any magnesium. I also put 2 capfuls of Organic apple cider vinegar in hot tap water with a teaspoon of RAW honey.

    In a MINUTE or so, you can feel the tension relax. It seems that MOST people could use more magnesium, and I try to take it daily. But when I forget, it never fails that sooner or later I get those horrible cramps. I like bananas and used to eat two, sometime for breakfast. This, I figured out, messed up the balance of minerals (for me). After this happened a couple of times, I cut the bananas back to 1/2 a day.

    Also it seems that I don’t need extra calcium, because when I take it, the cramps happen. I will take the Organic apple cider vinegar straight, when I am out and about, if I need to. I never leave home without it! When you are in real pain, the taste doesn’t matter. But it may be too harsh on your throat to take it straight all the time.

    I have tried for so long to find something that works, and I hope it helps others.

    • Judy


      Many thanks for your suggestion. I’ve just had one of these inner thigh cramps, and I have a cider vinegar beside me now! I also find a really good way to alleviate the pain is a hot water bottle.

  6. Lbg

    I have the inner thigh cramps which are to say the least very very painful. The only thing that relieves the horrible cramp is ice!
    Nothing else works for me, and ice starts helping within a few minutes and then I can get up and walk. If nothing works for you, it doesn’t hurt to try the ice. I know it doesn’t cure the problem, but when you are in that kind of pain, you will do anything.

  7. brenda

    Oh I know the pain of the thigh cramp all to well. I have gotten them for years. the best thing that I have done is purchased a hand held massager. I have a hitachi and a battery powered one that I keep at the head of the bed so that I can reach it fast with out getting out of bed.
    I press the massager into the muscle hard and if I can stand I put weight on the leg. Takes the cramp out and then I give the muscle a good massage to help relax it. It was the best money spent! I’m going to try the muscle stretching too and see if that helps.

  8. Jackie H.

    I am having severe cramps in the inner sides of both thighs. They interrupt sleep and I am in pain until the next one. Drs don’t seem to have a remedy. I tried the pain meds at the onset and that helps after a while. This is the worst pain that I have ever felt, with the exception of child birth. But at least I had an idea of when to expect that….Please help me.

    • Carol

      I agree that Child birth is the best way of explaining the pain that comes with these cramps.

    • Carol

      Jackie, please try my suggestion that I just posted. I know everyone is an individual, but it is the only way that I got relief. I really hope it helps you.

      • Florence

        Carol – can you let me know what the post was for in order to help with these cramps?

  9. FMS

    I know these cramps are so painful but when I speak to my doctor about them he looks at me as if I am making them up. I have tried nearly everything except for the mustard. That will be my next experiment. If anyone has any other suggestions or ideas to help with these very painful inner leg cramps then I would be eternally grateful

  10. Rocket Scientist

    There are a lot of good suggestions on the “home-remedies-to-help-leg-cramps” page. Definitely try prevention by using a heating pad on the areas before bed.

  11. Heidi

    Wow, I am at my wits end with these inner thigh spasms! The pain is beyond belief, and I start to panic when I feel that twinge that means one is coming. I have woken and terrified my whole family. I can’t find a common cause, my electrolytes are fine. I do have varicose veins, I don’t smoke. I would take any med, change any routine I have, anything to get them to stop. The only thing I can hopefully help others with is a what I have been doing to minimize them.
    As soon as I feel the “quiver” sensation come I get up immediately and stand up, putting the foot of the affected leg down hard and press my foot to the floor. Sometimes this works if I catch it early enough, otherwise I just pray for them to end and hold onto whatever is available. If anybody finds out the definitive answer, it would be worth a million bucks!

  12. Sue

    I usually can cope with pain, but the pain with Thigh Leg Cramp is unbelievable,I feel I’m on the verge of fainting.
    My way to help relieve the pain is to jump in the shower, grab the hose then run hot and cold water alternately as hot and cold as you can bare onto the thigh.
    I return to bed eventually with a hot bean bag (put it in the microwave) lay it over your thigh. I find it all very frightening and it comes with no warning..

  13. Rocket Scientist

    Put a jar of yellow mustard and a spoon near your bed. Eating a tsp of mustard will stop a cramp quickly. Mustard does not need refrigeration.

  14. Rocket Scientist

    Put a jar of yellow mustard and a spoon near your bed. Eating a tsp of mustard will stop a cramp quickly. Mustard does not need refrigeration.

  15. T G

    Omgosh, I have been having one of these cramps off and on for days now. I had one the other night and was able to get it stopped enough to get out of bed, if it hits too hard I cant get out of bed or move.
    The twinge threat of another one coming has lingered. I have slept two nights sitting straight up on the couch, I am too scared to go to bed. I thought it was getting better but then tonight bam there it goes again. I am at my wits end, I took a muscle relaxer and all that did was fog up my brain, didn’t do nothing for the tight feeling in my thigh.
    I told someone today I would rather give birth to all 3 of my children and have a gall bladder attack all at once rather than ever go through this again.
    I have tried pickle juice, I take calcium, potassium, and vit D. I backed off on the magnesium, as it constantly sent me to the bathroom and with a cramping inner thigh that is not good.
    I do drink diet tonic water with quinine, it seems to help me get it under control. I have to work tomorrow and I am too scared to try to go to bed. I am a cashier so I stand on concrete all day long in one spot. I hate this and I hate being afraid it will happen and this is all so depressing.
    I have wondered if it could be attributed to the sciatic nerve, I sometimes get horrible pains and aches in my lower right back in the hip area.
    I just don’t know what to do.

  16. P.y.b.

    I too get these inner thigh cramps sometimes both legs at once. It is the only time I scream and swear and cry. A heated wheat pad works a little but sometimes cannot move to get it and heat it up. Some say quinine works. My doc will not give me any. And if you have to drink tonic water (which has quinine in) you would have to drink vast amounts for it to have any effects. I would say I would rather give birth to all my kids at once than get this cramp..

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