Once again I have to revisit this matter about nighttime leg cramps mostly because my legs keep reminding me that it’s still an issue. Since I last mentioned it we have made great progress detecting gravitational waves and finding the building blocks of life on Mars. Research on the boring old leg cramp problem, however, has stalled.

It’s as if proving the existence of gravitational waves is more important than leg cramp research. Granted it is, unless you’re the one jolted awake at night when your leg muscles are tied up so tight and the pain is so intense that you completely lose interest in gravitational waves, life on Mars or whatever you were dreaming about just seconds ago while you do a dance trying for a position to make it all go away.

Obviously leg cramps are not that important. Nobody dies from having them (except when I came close while swimming in the ocean) and, really, they are merely waves of intense pain that, when they stop, everyone goes back to playing canasta like nothing happened. They’re not important because there is no money here: Big Pharma has given it a pass since the pain will have long been gone by the time you get to the pharmacy if indeed there was a drug to control the situation. Anyway they have opioids to sell if you still insist on buying something powerful.

I have not had a visit from the leg cramp demon for many weeks but the other night after a beautiful dinner of salmon and asparagus the game was on. As I lay quietly in bed the feeling that the slightest wrong move would trigger a major cramping incident filled me with dread.

After a few starts where I deftly avoided the worst only through pseudo tai chi style moves, I made it to my computer where I desperately started looking for the connection between asparagus and leg cramps. Amazingly, almost all the articles touted asparagus for preventing leg cramps which, by my own personal experience, I know is a load of horse pucky.

If you suffer from nighttime leg cramps as I do and some 60 percent of older adults do, I am sure you spend considerable time on the internet searching for information that might offer any hope of prevention or relief. If you are inclined to go this route I can save you a lot of time and effort. Over the years I have read many articles on the web about prevention and control. Most articles about nighttime leg cramps boil down to this line repeated many times and in different ways: “Blah blah blah, leg cramps, pain, blah blah blah; potassium, pickle juice, hydration blah blah blah.”

It’s obvious a lot of people really don’t know what they are writing about. One lengthy article I read stated that leg cramps happen in the calf and can be “quite painful.” Ha. That’s a little like saying that repeatedly stabbing yourself in the leg with a screwdriver can be “quite painful.” If the author had the misfortune of experiencing an adult-grade leg cramp he would know the ones located in the calf are a minor annoyance as opposed to one of your major thigh muscles going rogue just to see if it can snap the femur on its own.

The femur is the massive bone in your thigh, which a single muscle cannot break, but there is obviously nothing preventing a muscle from having a go at it every once in a while like when it’s trying to show off in front of the other muscles. Actually, some research has hinted that it’s not the muscles that are out of control but the nerves that feed them signals. Maybe it’s the nerves to which we have to direct our commands when we feel a cramp coming on and start yelling, “No, no, no!”

The only news as far as nocturnal leg cramps go is that I have given up on linking cashew nut consumption with triggering the condition and have moved on to eyeing asparagus as the main culprit.

Bottom line: nobody knows anything.

It’s come to this: hopefully we will find that gravity waves trigger nocturnal leg cramps. This will justify the massive attention and expense of looking for gravity waves and we will all be able to move onto Mars, although I hear the transport ships might be a little cramped.