What are muscle cramps?
A muscle cramp is a strong, painful contraction or tightening of a muscle that comes on suddenly and lasts from a few seconds to several minutes. It often occurs in the legs. A muscle cramp is also called a charley horse.
Nighttime leg cramps are usually sudden spasms, or tightening, of muscles in the calf. The muscle cramps can sometimes happen in the thigh or the foot. They often occur just as you are falling asleep or waking up.
What causes muscle cramps?
The cause of muscle cramps isn't always known. Muscle cramps may be brought on by many conditions or activities, such as:
How can you stop a muscle cramp when it happens?
You may need to try several different ways to stop a muscle cramp before you find what works best for you. Here are some things you can try:
Here are some things you can try for a leg cramp:
If you think a medicine is causing muscle cramps:
How can you prevent muscle cramps?
These tips may help prevent muscle cramps:
If you are taking medicines that are known to cause leg cramps, your doctor may prescribe different medicines.
What if muscle cramps keep coming back?
Talk with your doctor if you have muscle cramps that keep coming back or are severe. These may be symptoms of another problem, such as restless legs syndrome.
If cramps keep coming back, bother you a lot, or interfere with your sleep, your doctor may prescribe medicine that relaxes your muscles.
eMedicineHealth Medical Reference from Healthwise
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