Muscle Cramps

  • Medical Author:
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

  • Medical Editor: William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

Discover how to relieve muscle cramps

Muscle Cramps: a Real Pain

Cramps can be perceived as mild twitches or may be excruciatingly painful. Typically, cramps cause an abrupt, intense pain in the involved muscle.

Often a muscle that is cramping feels harder than normal to the touch or may even show visible signs of twitching.

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Muscle cramps facts

  • A muscle cramp is an involuntarily and forcibly contracted muscle that does not relax.
  • Almost everyone experiences a muscle cramp at some time in their life.
  • There are a variety of types and causes of muscle cramps.
  • Muscle cramps may occur during exercise, at rest, or at night, depending upon the exact cause.
  • Dehydration is a common cause of muscle cramps.
  • Numerous medicines can cause muscle cramps.
  • Most muscle cramps can be stopped if the muscle can be stretched.
  • Muscle cramps can often be prevented by measures such as adequate nutrition and hydration, attention to safety when exercising, and attention to ergonomic factors. Continue Reading

Reviewed on 4/21/2016
References
REFERENCES:

Longo, D.L., et al. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 18th ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Professional, 2011.

"Muscle Spasms, Cramps, and Charley Horse." WebMD.com. Sept. 5, 2012. <http://www.webmd.com/pain-management/muscle-spasms-cramps-charley-horse>.

United States. Food and Drug Administration. "FDA Drug Safety Communication: New Risk Management Plan and Patient Information Guide for Qualapin (Quinine Sulfate)." July, 8, 2010.

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