Muscle cramp

View 7 Most Effective Exercises Slideshow Pictures
Our Muscle Cramps Main Article provides a comprehensive look at the who, what, when and how of Muscle Cramps

Medical Definition of Muscle cramp

Muscle cramp: An involuntarily and forcibly contracted muscle that does not relax. When we use the muscles such as those of our arms and legs that can voluntarily be controlled, they alternately contract and relax as we move our limbs. Muscles that support our head, neck, and trunk contract similarly in a synchronized fashion to maintain our posture. A muscle (or even a few fibers of a muscle) that involuntarily (without consciously willing it) contracts is called a "spasm." If the spasm is forceful and sustained, it becomes a cramp. Muscle cramps can last anywhere from a few seconds to a quarter of an hour, and occasionally longer. It is not uncommon for a cramp to recur multiple times until it finally goes away. The cramp may involve a part of a muscle, the entire muscle, or several muscles that usually act together, such as those that flex adjacent fingers. Some cramps involve the simultaneous contraction of muscles that ordinarily move body parts in opposite directions. Muscle cramps are very common and become increasingly frequent with age. Any muscle under voluntary control (skeletal muscle) can cramp. The legs and feet, and particularly the calf (the classic "charley horse"), are especially subject to cramps.


Quick GuidePictures of the 7 Most Effective Exercises to Do at the Gym or Home (and Tips to Improve Form)

Pictures of the 7 Most Effective Exercises to Do at the Gym or Home (and Tips to Improve Form)

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.

Reviewed on 5/13/2016

Health Solutions From Our Sponsors