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Muscle Cramp

Medically reviewed by Last updated on May 6, 2024.

What is a muscle cramp?

A muscle cramp is a sudden, sharp pain or spasm in a muscle. It lasts from a few seconds to a few minutes. Muscle cramps most often occur in the legs or feet. They are also common along the ribs and in the arms and hands.

What increases my risk for a muscle cramp?

A muscle cramp may be caused by tired muscles or failure to stretch properly. The following may increase your risk:

What are the signs and symptoms of a muscle cramp?

How is the cause of a muscle cramp diagnosed?

Tell your healthcare provider how often you have muscle cramps and how long they usually last. Tell him or her if they occur at rest or during exercise. Tell him or her if they occur during the day or at night. Your provider will examine you and press on the muscles where you have cramps. Blood test may be used to check for dehydration or organ function problems.

How can I manage a muscle cramp?

Muscle cramps often go away without any treatment. You can do the following to help relieve a cramp:

How can I help prevent a muscle cramp?

When should I seek immediate care?

When should I call my doctor?

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your healthcare providers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.