Muscle cramps are involuntary and often painful contractions (movements) of the muscles.
Cramps - muscle
Muscle cramps are common and may be stopped by stretching the muscle. The cramping muscle may feel hard or bulging.
Muscle spasms are different than muscle twitches, which are covered in a separate article.
Muscle spasms can cause cramps and are usually brought on by the following:
• Muscle fatigue
• Heavy exercise
• Reduced levels of magnesium or calcium in the body
• Other metabolic problems
• Kidney failure
Slow stretching often brings relief. If muscle cramps continue, see your doctor.
When to Contact a Medical Professional
Call your doctor if your muscle cramps are severe, last a long time, or keep coming back and do not go away with simple stretching.
What to Expect at Your Office Visit
Your health care provider will perform a physical examination and ask questions about your medical history, such as:
• When did the spasms first begin?
• How long do they last?
• How often do you experience muscle spasms?
• What muscles are affected?
• Is it always the same location?
• Are you pregnant?
• Have you been vomiting, had diarrhea, excessive sweating, excessive urine volume, or other possible cause of dehydration?
• What medications do you take?
• Have you been exercising heavily?
• Have you been drinking alcohol heavily?
Tests that may be done include:
• Blood tests for disorders of the following:
• Calcium, potassium, or magnesium metabolism
• Thyroid function
• Kidney function
• Pregnancy test
Pain relievers (analgesics) may be prescribed.