Muscle Cramps and Muscle Spasms

What are Muscle Cramps and Muscle Spasms

Muscle cramps and Muscle spasms are when muscles tighten by themselves. They usually get better within minutes.

Muscle cramps are painful. They are usually stronger and last longer than muscle spasms. Muscle spasms may or may not be painful. They can last a few seconds or much longer.

Follow these instructions at home:

  • Drink enough fluid to keep your pee (urine) clear or pale yellow.
  • Massage, stretch, and relax the muscle.
  • If directed, apply heat to tight or tense muscles as often as told by your doctor. Use the heat source that your doctor recommends.
    • Place a towel between your skin and the heat source.
    • Leave the heat on for 20–30 minutes.
    • Take off the heat if your skin turns bright red. This is especially important if you are unable to feel pain, heat, or cold. You may have a greater risk of getting burned.
  • If directed, put ice on the affected area. This may help if you are sore or have pain after a cramp or spasm.
    • Put ice in a plastic bag.
    • Place a towel between your skin and the bag.
    • Leave the ice on for 20 minutes, 2–3 times a day.
  • Take over-the-counter and prescription medicines only as told by your doctor.
  • Pay attention to any changes in your symptoms.

Contact a doctor if:

  • Your cramps or spasms get worse or happen more often.
  • Your cramps or spasms do not get better with time.

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