Muscle cramp is an abrupt and uncontrolled muscle contraction.  Although muscle cramps are generally harmless, the can cause severe pain and temporarily stop the function of the affected muscle. Muscle cramps can occur after working or exercising for a long time, especially when the weather is hot, or because of some medical conditions and medications. Muscle cramps are usually easily treated with self-care measures at home.



Usually, the muscle cramps appear in the legs, or more precisely in the calf. Alongside the abrupt and sharp pain that can be felt, a person experiencing muscle cramps can also notice or feel a hard lump beneath the skin on the affected muscle.

Muscle cramps aren’t usually serious enough to be treated with medical help. They tend to go away by themselves. However, medical care should be required if the cramps are:

  • Causing severe discomfort
  • Occur frequently
  • Accompanied with redness and swelling or other skin changes
  • Associated with muscle weakness
  • Do not improve over time of self-care
  • Not a result of vigorous exercise or hard work



Muscle cramps can occur due to:

  • Dehydration
  • Muscle overuse
  • Muscle strain
  • Holding the same position for too long

However, the exact reason that causes muscle cramps is not familiar.

Some muscle cramps can occur because of certain underlying medical condition such as:

  • Inadequate supply of blood in the legs while exercising
  • Compression of the spine nerves that causes pain which can get worse with long-time walking
  • Mineral depletion i.e. lack of potassium, calcium or magnesium


Risk factors

The risk of experiencing muscle cramps increases when a person is:

  • Older; because older people lose muscle mass and it can come to overstress or overuse of the remaining muscle mass
  • Dehydrated; especially athletes that practice warm-weather sports
  • Pregnant; muscle cramps are common among pregnant women
  • Experiencing another medical condition such as: diabetes, nerve, liver or thyroid disorder



The treatment for muscle cramps are usually self-care measures.  A person experiencing cramps should:

  • Do stretching exercises that will help in reducing the chances to get a muscle cramp
  • Always stay hydrated
  • Take vitamin B complex (not fully confirmed benefit)
  • Massage the affected muscle
  • Apply warm towel on tense muscles
  • Take a warm bath
  • Put an ice package on the affected place that can relieve pain



In order to prevent muscle cramps from occurring, a person should:

  • Stretch the muscles before and after the muscles have been used for long period of time


  • Drink plenty of water daily so that dehydration can be avoided;

*How much liquid should a person drink each day depends on the gender, what the person eats, how active he/she is during the day, the weather, the overall health of the person, his/her age and medications that are taken. It is important to drink plenty of liquids because they help the muscles to contract and relax and the muscle cells are well hydrated and not easily irritable. A person should have a habit to drink water all the time, during activities and after them.