What Are the Causes of Morning Leg Pain?

Morning leg pains can be a common problem for some people. They are intense pains that radiate into various parts of the leg. Though morning leg pains are generally muscle cramps, they can also come from a variety of causes, some requiring medical treatment. It’s important to have a general idea of one’s health and daily activity to single out the cause 1.

Is This an Emergency?

If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.

Common Causes

One of the more common causes for morning leg pain is lack of exercise or physical movement. When the muscles in the leg are not exercised regularly, they become more prone to muscle cramps. These types of leg pains occur in the morning because the leg muscles have been inactive throughout the night, leaving them vulnerable to cramps. Sudden shifts or movement of the leg, which often occur as a person is waking, will cause muscles to be pulled, leading to painful cramps. Another common cause for morning leg pains might also be nerve irritation. Nerve irritation occurs when tight muscles, tendons, and ligaments cause pressure on nerves or groups of nerves. This can occur while sleeping in certain positions that apply pressure on soft tissues around the stressed nerves.

Lack of Water and Nutrients

Another common cause for morning leg pains is the lack of certain nutrients, such as:

  • potassium
  • sodium
  • calcium,
  • magnesium
  • in the blood system

Lack of fluids in the system, or dehydration, can also lead to leg cramps.


Certain types of medication can cause morning leg pains.

Other Causes

Other causes for morning leg pains can be the result of health or medical problems. Lengthy bed rests, for instance, commonly cause blood clots in the leg. Morning leg pains can be the symptoms of other medical conditions, such as bone infections; leg joint inflammation caused by arthritis or gout; nerve damage caused by diabetes, smoking, or drinking; and varicose veins.


If morning leg pains are not the sign of more serious health-related causes, there are a few things you can do to treat and eliminate the problem. When the leg begins to cramp, stretch and massage the muscles until the pain dissipates. To eliminate morning leg pains, exercise the muscles in the legs as regularly as possible. Simple morning exercises, such as leg stretches and squats, will keep the muscles relaxed and flexible.