Muscle Cramps Overview

Muscle cramps are a common symptom where a muscle painfully contracts for an extended period, which is a type of muscle spasm. A simple episode of a muscle cramp can occur if any muscle is over-used. For example, leg muscle cramps may result from exercise, and wrist or hand muscle cramps may result from writing with a pencil (an uncommon occurrence in today’s screen-dominated world, perhaps). Such muscle cramps will usually cause muscle pain and muscle contracture, but are short-lived.

Although many cases of muscle cramp are harmless, it is possible that muscle cramps belie a hidden more serious diagnosis. For example, undiagnosed diabetes, and the potentially fatal diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) may result in muscle cramps (including muscle cramps at night).

Muscle cramps must be differentiated from various other causes of muscle pain, metabolic disorders (e.g. electrolyte imbalance), and other movement disorders causing muscle spasms (e.g. seizures, convulsions, spasticity, hypertonicity, grip disorders, etc.). Any concerns about muscle cramps or muscle spasms should be promptly diagnosed by a qualified doctor.

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Note: This site is for informational purposes only and is not medical advice. See your doctor or other qualified medical professional for all your medical needs.