Muscle Cramps (cont.)
Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.
William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.
In this Article
- Muscle cramps facts
- What are muscle cramps?
- What are the types and causes of muscle cramps?
- Do all muscle cramps fit into the above categories?
- Can medications cause muscle cramps?
- Can vitamin deficiencies cause muscle cramps?
- Can poor circulation cause muscle cramps?
- What are the symptoms of common muscle cramps? How are muscle cramps diagnosed?
- What is the treatment of skeletal muscle cramps?
- How can muscle cramps be prevented?
- Are there particular concerns for older adults?
- Are there medications to prevent muscle cramps?
- What is the prognosis of recurrent muscle cramps?
Do all muscle cramps fit into the above categories?
No. Not all cramps are readily categorized in the preceding manner since these categories best apply to cramps that make up an individual's major muscle problem. Many cramps are a relatively minor part of nerve and muscle diseases; other muscle symptoms are usually more prominent in these diseases. Some examples include amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (Lou Gehrig's disease) with weakness and muscle wasting; radiculopathy (spinal nerve irritation or compression from various causes) with pain, distortion or loss of sensation, and/or weakness; diseases of the peripheral nerves, such as diabetic neuropathy, with distorted and diminished sensation and weakness; and a number of primarily dystonic muscle diseases.
Can medications cause muscle cramps?
Numerous medicines can cause cramps. Potent diuretic medications, such as furosemide (Lasix), or the vigorous removal of body fluids, even with less potent diuretics, can induce cramps by depleting body fluid and sodium. Simultaneously, diuretics often cause the loss of potassium, calcium, and magnesium, which can also cause cramps.
Learn more about: Lasix
Medications such as donepezil (Aricept, used for Alzheimer's disease) and neostigmine (Prostigmine and others, used for myasthenia gravis) as well as raloxifene (Evista, used to prevent osteoporosis in postmenopausal women) have caused cramps. Tolcapone (Tasmar, used for Parkinson's disease) reportedly causes muscle cramps in at least 10% of patients. True cramps have been reported with nifedipine (Procardia and others, used for angina, high blood pressure and other conditions) and the asthma drugs terbutaline (Brethine) and albuterol (Proventil, Ventolin, and others). Some medicines used to lower cholesterol, such as lovastatin (Mevacor), can also lead to cramps.
Cramps are sometimes noted in addicted individuals during withdrawal from medications and substances that have sedative effects, including alcohol, barbiturates and other sedatives, anti-anxiety agents such as benzodiazepines (for example, diazepam [Valium] and alprazolam [Xanax]), narcotics, and other drugs.
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