Severe leg cramps can be self-treated with stretching exercises and by eating foods that are high in calcium, magnesium and vitamins. People with leg cramps should drink plenty of water to stay hydrated and circulate blood flow, as noted by the Mayo Clinic. In some cases, physicians may prescribe muscle relaxants or pain medication to relieve the discomfort.
Severe leg cramps caused by muscle cramps may subside when massaged, stretched, warmed or iced, explains WebMD. A bath with Epsom salt also may soothe the discomfort. When a cramp occurs in the back of the thigh, it may help to bend the knee slightly and put weight on the affected leg.
Muscle cramps can develop as a result of poor blood circulation, muscle fatigue, dehydration, overexertion of the calf muscles and insufficient stretching prior to exercise, according to WebMD. People with a magnesium, potassium or calcium deficiency are at risk for muscle cramps. Exercising in the heat may also contribute to severe leg cramps. People with a pinched nerve in the back or neck or a spinal cord injury may be more prone to severe leg cramps due to malfunctioning nerves.