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WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
A muscle spasm is a sudden contraction of any muscle or group of muscles. A muscle cramp is a painful muscle spasm. Muscle cramps commonly occur after intense exercise or during pregnancy. They may also be caused by certain medications, dehydration, low calcium or magnesium levels, or another medical condition.
You may need the following:
- NSAIDs help decrease swelling and pain or fever. This medicine is available with or without a doctor's order. NSAIDs can cause stomach bleeding or kidney problems in certain people. If you take blood thinner medicine, always ask your healthcare provider if NSAIDs are safe for you. Always read the medicine label and follow directions.
- Take your medicine as directed. Call your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.
Follow up with your primary healthcare provider as directed:
You may need other tests or treatment. You may also be referred to a physical therapist or other specialist. Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.
- Stretch your muscle to help relieve the cramp. It may be helpful to keep your muscle in the stretched position until the cramp is gone.
- Apply heat to help decrease pain and muscle spasms. Apply heat on the area for 20 to 30 minutes every 2 hours for as many days as directed.
- Apply ice to help decrease swelling and pain. Ice may also help prevent tissue damage. Use an ice pack, or put crushed ice in a plastic bag. Cover it with a towel and place it on your muscle for 15 to 20 minutes every hour or as directed.
- Drink more liquids to help prevent muscle cramps caused by dehydration. Sports drinks may help replace electrolytes you lose through sweat during exercise. Ask your primary healthcare provider how much liquid to drink each day and which liquids are best for you.
- Eat healthy foods , such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy products, and lean proteins (meat, beans, and fish). If you are pregnant, ask your primary healthcare provider about foods that are high in magnesium and sodium. They may help to relieve cramps during pregnancy.
- Massage your muscle to help relieve the cramp.
- Take frequent deep breaths until the cramp feels better. Lie down while you take the deep breaths so you do not get dizzy or lightheaded.
Contact your primary healthcare provider if:
- You have signs of dehydration, such as a headache, dark yellow urine, dry eyes or mouth, or a fast heartbeat.
- You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.
Return to the emergency department if:
- You have warmth, swelling, or redness in the cramping muscle.
- You have frequent or unrelieved muscle cramps in several different muscles.
- You have muscle cramps with numbness, tingling, and burning in your hands and feet.
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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.