Thigh cramps at night have various causes, including unknown reasons, muscle fatigue, nerve problems and drugs, according to Mayo Clinic. In rare cases, diseases such as peripheral artery disease, diabetes and spinal stenosis are the causes of thigh cramps at night.
Peripheral artery disease is a condition that occurs when there is decreased blood flow to the legs and feet due to the narrowing of the arteries, notes MedlinePlus. Nerves are damaged when their blood supply is reduced, which is why patients with this condition experience symptoms affecting the nerves, including leg cramps at night, tingling in the feet or toes, and numbness in the legs at rest. The cause of peripheral artery disease is plaque buildup, and patients who have diabetes and heart disease are at a higher risk of developing peripheral artery disease.
Diabetes leads to leg cramps at night when patients experience diabetic neuropathy, a complication of diabetes, explains Healthline. Diabetic neuropathy occurs as a result of long-term hyperglycemia, and is treated by controlling blood sugar levels, as well as by taking prescribed medications and dietary supplements.
Spinal stenosis occurs when the spinal canal narrows, reducing the space for the nerves and spinal cord, according to Cleveland Clinic. This narrowing compresses the nerves, resulting in symptoms such as numbness, weakness, tingling and leg pain. The nerve injury becomes permanent with time, which is why patients should get treatment that includes surgery and medication as soon as symptoms appear.