Muscle Cramps

Dr. Nadheer K M (AIIMS)MBBS

December 08, 2018

March 06, 2020

Muscle Cramps
Muscle Cramps

What are Muscle Cramps?

Muscle cramps are sudden, uncontrollable, and painful contractions in one or several body muscles. These contractions do not relax easily and commonly occur after exercise. Leg muscle cramps are one of the most common types of cramps. Other than this, muscle cramps are also experienced in the feet, hands, arms, abdomen, and thighs. Individuals more prone to muscle cramps include the elderly, obese persons, athletes, pregnant women, and those with medical conditions, such as nerve and thyroid disorders.

What are its main associated signs and symptoms?

The symptoms vary depending upon the intensity of cramps, for example, it can be a slight tick or an agonising pain. Cramps may appear as a twitch beneath the skin and feel hard to pinpoint. They generally last for a few seconds but may extend for several minutes. They may recur many times before disappearing completely. Muscle cramps might be associated with sweating, local wound or other signs.

What are its main causes?

Sometimes the cause behind muscle cramps may remain unidentified. However, the following are the common and known causes of muscle cramps:

How is it diagnosed and treated?

The diagnosis is made to determine the underlying condition causing cramps. It generally involves:

  • Physical examination
  • Muscle biopsy
  • Electromyogram
  • Nerve conduction studies
  • Creatinine kinase blood test

Usually, muscle cramps require no specific treatment and may be relieved by

  • Massaging or stretching the muscle
  • Increasing the intake of fluids and replenishing the salts, if you feel dehydrated

Applying heat on tightened muscles and an ice pack on sore muscles

Your doctor may prescribe certain medications in case there are some underlying conditions causing the cramps. You can prevent a muscle cramp by stretching muscles and drinking plenty of fluids.


  1. MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia: US National Library of Medicine; Muscle Cramps.
  2. Orthoinfo [internet]. American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, Rosemont IL. Muscle Cramps.
  3. Better health channel. Department of Health and Human Services [internet]. State government of Victoria; Muscle cramp.
  4. American Association of Neuromuscular & Electrodiagnostic Medicine [Internet] Rochester Minnesota; Types of Tests.
  5. Jansen PH,Gabreëls FJ,van Engelen BG. Diagnosis and differential diagnosis of muscle cramps: a clinical approach. J Clin Neuromuscul Dis. 2002 Dec;4(2):89-94. PMID: 19078696

Medicines for Muscle Cramps

Medicines listed below are available for Muscle Cramps. Please note that you should not take any medicines without doctor consultation. Taking any medicine without doctor's consultation can cause serious problems.