- The cause of muscle cramps is often unknown, but they can sometimes occur due to an underlying medical condition or circumstance.
- A few ways to prevent muscle cramps are to exercise regularly, stay hydrated, and avoid caffeine, among others.
- It’s best to contact a doctor if your muscle cramps are severe or frequent enough to interfere with your quality of life or ability to sleep.
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. Follow along as we outline 10 possible causes of muscle cramps, as well as ways to relieve and prevent them and when to contact a doctor.
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.