What are muscle cramps?
Muscle cramps are pain in your muscles when they suddenly tighten. Muscle cramps last from a few seconds to several minutes.
Muscle cramps usually come on without warning
Muscle cramps are common in healthy people, especially middle-aged and older adults
Cramps can happen during or right after hard exercise, or while you're in bed at night
Muscle cramps very rarely are a symptom of a nerve problem
What causes muscle cramps?
Common causes of muscle cramps:
Harmless cramps that happen for no reason
Exercise (either during exercise or right after)
You're more likely to get cramps if:
Your calf muscles are tight from not stretching
You sit for long periods of time
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You take certain medicines
When should I see a doctor for muscle cramps?
See a doctor right away if you have muscle cramps and any of these warning signs:
Cramps in your chest, arms, or belly
Weakness or losing feeling in parts of your body
Cramps started after you lost a lot of body fluids from throwing up, sweating a lot, having diarrhea, or taking diuretics (medicine that makes you urinate [pee] more)
Call your doctor in 1 to 2 days if:
You frequently have leg cramps that come while walking and go away as soon as you stop
Your cramps started after you began taking a new medicine
What will happen at my doctor visit?
Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and do a physical exam.
Sometimes, doctors will do blood tests to check for other problems that can be causing your symptoms.
How do doctors treat muscle cramps?
If your cramps are caused by another health problem, doctors will treat that problem.
If your cramps are the harmless but painful kind, you can relieve them by:
Stretching the muscle
For example, if the cramp is in your calf, stretch your calf by pulling your toes up toward your head (the runner's stretch or standing gastrocnemius stretch).
How can I prevent muscle cramps?
Gently stretch your muscles before you exercise or go to bed
After you exercise, drink water and other fluids (especially sports drinks, which have electrolytes)
Don’t do a lot of hard exercise right after you eat
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