Symptoms and Causes of Muscle Cramp

Muscle cramp is sudden and involuntary contraction of one or more muscles of your body. Muscle cramp is generally makes the affected muscle(s) very painful and you may not be able to use the muscle(s) temporarily for few days. However, muscle cramp is usually harmless in nature; other than severe pain and inability to use, it usually is not a permanent problem. Some common causes of muscle cramp include prolonged exercise or physical work, especially in hot weather. Certain medications may also lead to muscle cramp. The management is usually simple and can be easily done at home with self-care.

What are the symptoms of muscle cramp?

The most commonly affected muscles in muscle cramp is calf muscles, although other leg muscles may also be involved. The most common problem is severe pain, which is sudden and sharp in nature. The pain may wake you up at night from sleep. Sometimes, there may be presence of hard lump of muscles beneath the skin, which is painful to touch or pressure. If you develop muscle cramp frequently, you should consult your doctor.

What are the causes of muscle cramp?

Many causes may cause muscle cramp. Common causes of muscle cramp include sudden dehydration, overuse of a muscle or a group of muscles, muscle strain, holding muscle in same position for prolonged time etc. In most cases, the cause of muscle cramp is not known.

Certain medical conditions may also lead to muscle cramp, these are-

  • Mineral deficiency: low level of potassium, calcium, magnesium in diet leading to low blood level of these minerals may cause muscle cramp. Certain medications, such as diuretics, especially if use for treatment of high blood pressure for long duration can lead to mineral depletion of these minerals.
  • Inadequate blood supply to a particular group of muscles may lead to muscle cramp. For example, due to atherosclerosis of arteries of leg may cause narrowing of arteries and lead to inadequate supply of blood during high demand such as exercise and cause muscle cramp. Stopping exercise may cause muscle cramp to go away.
  • Compression of a nerve (especially in spine) may lead to muscle cramp in the affected muscles or muscles supplied by the nerve. This problem may be more when you walk.


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