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.

Quick GuideDehydration: Causes, Symptoms and Tips to Stay Hydrated

Dehydration: Causes, Symptoms and Tips to Stay Hydrated

What is the treatment of skeletal muscle cramps? (Continued)

Muscle relaxant medications may be used over the short-term in certain situations to relax muscle cramps due to an injury or other temporary event. These medications include cyclobenzaprine (Flexeril), orphenadrine (Norflex), and baclofen (Lioresal).

In recent years, injections of therapeutic doses of botulism toxin (Botox) have been used successfully for some dystonic muscle disorders that are localized to a limited group of muscles. A good response may last several months or more, and the injection may then be repeated.

The treatment of cramps that are associated with specific medical conditions generally focuses on treating the underlying condition. Sometimes, additional medications specifically for cramps are prescribed with certain of these conditions.

Of course, if cramps are severe, frequent, persistent, respond poorly to simple treatments, or are not associated with an obvious cause, then the patient and the doctor need to consider the possibility that more intensive treatment is indicated or that the cramps are a manifestation of another disease. As described above, the possibilities are extremely varied and include problems with circulation, nerves, metabolism, hormones, medications, and nutrition. It is uncommon for muscle cramps to occur as the result of a medical condition without other obvious signs that the medical condition is present.

Cramps are inevitable, but if possible, it would be best to prevent them. 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.

IMAGES:

1.iStock

2.Bigstock

3.Bigstock

4.MedicineNet

5.iStock

6.iStock

7.iStock

8.iStock

9.iStock

10.Bigstock

11.iStock

12.iStock

13.iStock

14.Getty Images

15.Bigstock

16.iStock

17.iStock

18.iStock

19.iStock

20.iStock

21.iStock

22.iStock

23.Medscape

24.iStock

25.iStock

Subscribe to MedicineNet's Weight Loss/Healthy Living Newsletter

By clicking Submit, I agree to the MedicineNet's Terms & Conditions & Privacy Policy and understand that I may opt out of MedicineNet's subscriptions at any time.

VIEW PATIENT COMMENTS
  • Muscle Cramps - Effective Treatments

    What kinds of treatments have been effective for your muscle cramps?

    Post View 84 Comments
  • Muscle Cramps - Causes

    What was the cause of your muscle cramps?

    Post View 89 Comments
  • Muscle Cramps - Vitamins and Supplements

    Which vitamins or supplements did you start taking to relieve muscle cramps?

    Post View 16 Comments
  • Muscle Cramps - Prevention

    What measures have you found effective in preventing muscle cramps?

    Post View 23 Comments

Health Solutions From Our Sponsors