Muscle cramps, which are often referred to as “charley horses,” are something that most everyone has experienced at one time or another. They most commonly occur in the calf or foot when the muscles involuntarily contract, becoming hard and painful.
In most cases, the cause of a muscle cramp is unknown; these are referred to as idiopathic leg cramps. Sometimes, however, muscle cramps occur due to an underlying medical condition or circumstance—such as these six.
1. Inadequate Blood Supply
With a condition known as peripheral arterial disease (also commonly referred to as arteriosclerosis of the extremities), the arteries become narrow or, in some cases, blocked.
The American Heart Association tells us that constriction causes poor blood flow to the legs and feet, leading to the most common symptom of peripheral artery disease, painful muscle cramps. The Mayo Clinic says these cramps most commonly occur while exercising, and will typically go away soon after you stop.