Most muscle cramps develop in the leg muscles, particularly the muscles in the calf. In addition to the sudden, sharp pain, you may also be able to feel or see a hard lump of muscle tissue beneath your skin.
When to see a doctor
Muscle cramps usually disappear on their own and are rarely serious enough to require medical care. However, see your doctor if your cramps:
Feb. 19, 2013
- Cause severe discomfort
- Are associated with leg swelling, redness or skin changes
- Are associated with muscle weakness
- Happen frequently
- Don't improve with self-care
- Aren't associated with an obvious cause, such as strenuous exercise
- Muscle cramp. American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=A00200. Accessed Dec. 19, 2012.
- Daroff RB, et al. Bradley's Neurology in Clinical Practice. 6th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2012. http://www.mdconsult.com/books/about.do?about=true&eid=4-u1.0-B978-1-4377-0434-1..C2009-0-40427-6--TOP&isbn=978-1-4377-0434-1&uniqId=364938937-2. Accessed Dec. 19, 2012.
- Winkelman JW. Nocturnal leg cramps. http://www.uptodate.com/index. Accessed Dec. 19, 2012.
- Katzberg HD, et al. Assessment: Symptomatic treatment for muscle cramps (an evidence-based review). Neurology. 2010;74:691.
- Laskowski ER (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Dec. 21, 2012.