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Diseases & Conditions

Foot & Leg Cramps

A foot or a leg cramp refers to a cramping feeling or spasm in the foot or leg. It may be extremely painful and is often accompanied by the feeling of a lump beneath the skin. This lump, which is the muscle tissue contracting beneath the skin, may also be visible.

Causes of Cramps

There are some common causes which may result in cramping in the lower extremities. Overusing a muscle or a prolonged strained position may cause leg or foot cramps. Often, something as simple as wearing different or new shoes may cause spasms or cramps in the toes, feet, or even legs.

Dehydration may also lead to cramping. An insufficient amount of water and electrolytes causes dehydration. Hot weather and excessive exercise make dehydration more likely, but also drinking alcoholic or caffeinated beverages may contribute to dehydration.

Acute Conditions Associated with Foot & Leg Cramps

Muscle cramps in the feet or legs can be very painful. Though the actual cramp may only last minutes or even seconds, it may seem like an eternity. Additionally, muscle cramps often interrupt sleep, and the area of the cramp may be painful for hours afterward.

Usually, an occasional muscle cramp is not a reason for alarm. There are, however, conditions associated with lower extremity cramps. Inadequate blood supply may be caused by narrowing of the arteries. Narrowing of the arteries could be connected to heart disease or stroke. Cramping, especially during exercise or physical activity, may be caused by inadequate blood supply and should be checked for a critical condition.

Nerve compression in the spine is known to cause weakness and cramping in the legs. Walking in a flexed position with a walker or shopping cart can help alleviate the symptoms in the legs.

Dehydration is often caused by mineral depletion such as potassium. Potassium depletion sometimes happens as a side-effect from diuretics and other high blood pressure medication.

Risk factors

Risk factors for foot and leg cramps include advancing age, and various medical conditions such as diabetes, nerve disorders, and thyroid disorders.

Treatment Available

Treatments for lower extremity cramps start with common sense practices such as drinking plenty of water, eating a balanced diet and monitoring exercise.

If you have a condition which may make cramps more likely, you should inform your doctor of any changes or new symptoms.

There are also medications available to help minimize or eliminate foot and leg cramps.

Medications to Treat Foot and Leg Cramps

Over-the-Counter Medications:

  • Norflex
  • Flexiril
  • Lioresal

Compounded Medications:
We can make creams, ointments, lotions, gels, capsules, or oral suspensions of the following:

  • Guafenesin
  • Ketoprofen
  • Cyclobenzaprine
  • Magnesium Chloride
  • Peppermint
  • "It is rare to find health professionals who are so willing to educate the patient on what they need to know."

    Clair C. | West Hollywood, CA