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A muscle cramp is when a muscle tightens up suddenly. It often occurs in the legs. A muscle cramp is also called a charley horse.
Muscle cramps usually last less than a minute. However, the pain may last for several minutes. Leg cramps that occur at night may wake you up.
Heavy exercise, dehydration, and being overweight can increase your risk of getting cramps. An imbalance of certain chemicals in your blood, called electrolytes, can also lead to muscle cramps. Pregnant women sometimes get muscle cramps during sleep.
Muscle cramps can be treated by stretching and massaging the muscle. If cramps keep coming back, your doctor may prescribe medicine that relaxes your muscles.
Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse advice line (811 in most provinces and territories) if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.
Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse advice line if:
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Current as of: March 9, 2022
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine & Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine & Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine
Care instructions adapted under license by your healthcare professional. If you have questions about a medical condition or this instruction, always ask your healthcare professional. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.
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