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 call line 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 call line if:
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Current as of:
May 23, 2016
Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine
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