ZocdocAnswersWhat causes muscle cramping?

Question

What causes muscle cramping?

I get a lot of muscle cramps in my hips and upper legs, especially in the morning. Why? What causes muscle cramping and how can I make it go away?

Answer

Muscle cramps are especially painful and can last from seconds to minutes. The exact reasons for this condition are not clear. However, there are potential causes that your primary care doctor can help you figure out with a more complete history and examination. He or she may ask you a number of questions. Do you get muscle fatigue easily after repetitive motion? Are these cramps happening at any other times other than in the morning? Does it occur after exercise? Are you on a restricted diet or fluid restriction? Do you have any major medical conditions, such as congestive heart failure, chronic kidney failure, on hemodialysis? Do you take a diuretic, or cholesterol medication in the statin class? Do you drink a lot of coffee? These questions are important to help figuring out what might potentially be causing your cramps. For example, a number of electrolytes (potassium, magnesium, calcium) is important for muscle contraction and relaxation, and their imbalance can present as cramps. Patients who have heart or kidney disease, on hemodialysis, or taking diuretics can often have electrolytes at an abnormal levels. Additionally, patients with muscular disorders, such as myasthenia gravis, multiple sclerosis, and thyroid diseases, etc., can also present with muscle cramps. As you can see, potential causes for your condition are many. Some can be simple while others are potentially very serious. I advise you to stretch your muscles before going to bed and to follow up with your primary care physician who can further assist you.

This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

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