University lecturer unknotting night time leg cramps
One in two people over the age of 60 experience night time muscle cramping, which can cause sleep disturbance, ongoing muscle pain, unhappiness and falls in sufferers.
While the debilitating condition is common even in young people, little is known about why people suffer cramps, which has prompted University of Newcastle Central Coast campus associate lecturer in Podiatry, Fiona Hawke to conduct research to bridge the gap in medical knowledge of this ailment.
"There is currently no accepted treatment for night time muscle cramp, even though almost 50 per cent of people I see in podiatry practice say they suffer night time cramping in their lower limbs," she said.
"We hope that this research will identify treatable differences between people who cramp and those who don’t. Then we can use the results of this study to test the effectiveness of non-drug treatments for night time muscle cramps."
Conducted in conjunction with the University of Sydney Medical School, the research will also assess the effect night time cramps have on the quality of life of sufferers.
"We will also investigate the impact of muscle cramps on sleep and the overall quality of life of patients to help the medical community better understand the real impacts of the ailment," Miss Hawke said.
"Our long term goal is to develop an evidence base for the use of non-drug therapies for night time muscle cramp. While drug therapy is available, no drug has shown consistent effectiveness and safety. Currently, non-drug therapies have never been tested in high quality research despite concerns about sleep deprivation and increased risk of falls."
People who have night time calf muscle cramps at least once a week and adults who have never experienced cramping are invited to take part in the research. Participation in the research will involve a one-off research appointment at the University of Newcastle Podiatry Clinic at the Kanwal Medical Centre in Wyong.
"So far 35 people have signed up to take part in the research, but we need another 100 people, 50 who suffer night time leg cramps and another 50 who don’t, to move on to the next stage of the research."
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