What Causes Muscle Cramps?


Quick Answer

Muscle cramps do not have one specific cause, states WebMD. Cramping usually occurs in the legs, and the cause can include exercising, pregnancy, cold weather, blood flow conditions, standing on hard surfaces, mineral deficiencies in the blood, dehydration and medications.

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What Causes Muscle Cramps?
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Full Answer

According to Web MD, some causes are more serious than others, and the cramping can last anywhere from a few seconds to a few minutes. Continuous cramping may be caused by the more serious conditions. Blood flow conditions, such as peripheral artery disease; kidney disease; thyroid disease and multiple sclerosis are serious and need to be evaluated by a doctor. Less serious causes of cramping include exercise, over use of muscles, injury to a muscle and dehydration. These types of cramps are usually relieved quickly. Potassium and calcium are common mineral deficiencies that also cause muscle cramping. Use of birth control pills, diuretics, steroids, statins and antipsychotic medications are also common culprits when it comes to cramping.

To relieve muscle cramps, WebMD recommends stretching and massaging the muscle, applying heat or ice, taking over-the-counter pain relievers and drinking lots of fluids. Sports drinks in particular are helpful in relieving cramps. Walking around or jiggling the leg often helps relieve leg cramps. Prescription medications can help alleviate cramps, and they must be taken exactly as prescribed.

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