Muscle Cramps - Effective Treatments

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

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What is the treatment of skeletal muscle cramps?

Most cramps can be stopped if the muscle can be stretched. For many cramps of the feet and legs, this stretching can often be accomplished by standing up and walking around. For a calf muscle cramp, the person can stand about 2 to 2.5 feet from a wall (possibly farther for a tall person) and lean into the wall to place the forearms against the wall with the knees and back straight and the heels in contact with the floor. (It is best to learn this maneuver at a time when you don't have the cramp.) Another technique involves flexing the ankle by pulling the toes up toward the head while still lying in bed with the leg as straight as possible. For writer's cramp (contractures in the hand), pressing the hand on a wall with the fingers facing down will stretch the cramping finger flexor muscles.

Gently massaging the muscle will often help it to relax, as will applying warmth from a heating pad or hot soak. If the cramp is associated with fluid loss, as is often the case with vigorous physical activity, fluid and electrolyte (especially sodium and potassium) replacement is essential. Medicines generally are not needed to treat an ordinary cramp that is active since most cramps subside spontaneously before enough medicine would be absorbed to even have an effect.

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.

Return to Muscle Cramps

See what others are saying

Comment from: Yogi, 75 or over Male (Patient) Published: May 13

I am a diabetic and have been experiencing occasional muscle cramps for the last 35 years (since I was 45years). Mainly they occur during hot weather season as I live at latitude of about 18 degrees. I get relief when I drink a glass of water with a spoonful of salt.

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Comment from: Denny, 55-64 Male (Patient) Published: June 05

I have been woken by lower leg muscle cramps for years. My daughter said that an ounce shot of dill pickle juice would stop it. It did instantly. Maybe that is why pregnant women crave dill pickles. Any pickle juice seems to work for me.

Was this comment helpful?Yes

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