question-icon

What causes frequent excruciating muscle cramps?

default
Posted on Thu, 19 May 2016
Question: I get excruciating muscle cramps very frequently. Upon awakening from sleep in my calves, ankles, toes, even with compression socks on. Also sometimes in my hand while reading the newspaper. Am sitting in my office and have one right now in my back. Once I got cramps in my jaw. Is there a specialist I should search for? ...my pcp does not seem concerned. I am on calcium pills daily. Although I do not consume 8 glasses of water per day, I do have between 4-5, 8oz. glasses per typical day. Also, does sugar have anything to do with causing cramps. I typically do not drink sodas, because noticed when I drank a can of Pepsi, I would get cramps that night. Also, I have cut out chocolates for quite a few months, but when I just had some, I had intense leg cramps every 1-2 hours from 1:00am -8:30am. that night. On 1 rare occasion, when there was no one at home to assist me that night,, the cramps in both legs lasted more than 2 hours continuously. And lastly, I once had a strong pain in my chest so called 911. In the ambulance I was given nitroglycerin tabs multiple times with no relief. In the end, no one could tell me what it was. Maybe it was a cramp in my chest? Thank you!
doctor
Answered by Dr. Praveen Tayal (34 minutes later)
Brief Answer:
A muscle relaxant can help.

Detailed Answer:
Hello,
Thanks for posting your query.
There are different possible causes for the symptoms that you are experiencing. One of the potential causes is hypothyroidism which is a low level of thyroid hormone. This is a hormone that plays an important part in the metabolism of the body.
Hypothyroidism is commonly associated with cold intolerance and muscle spasm, the inability to tolerate cold would lead to shivering. It is diagnosed by a examination (there are certain features that are present when a person with hypothyroidism is examined) and by a blood test to assess the level of the thyroid hormone.

In addition to hypothyroidism, electrolyte imbalance (levels checked by blood tests) and excess activity can result in muscle spasms.

In addition to the physical causes of your discomfort, it is possible for physical complaints to be worsened by anxiety or stress.

Muscular spasms can be treated by (1) treating the underlying cause (2) keeping yourself well hydrated with electrolyte rich fluids like Oralyte. (3) stretching the muscles involved (4) the use of anti inflammatory medication such as ibuprofen, cataflam with meals provided there are no contraindications to their use (5) a muscle relaxant may be necessary

It may be best, if possible to visit your doctor for a thorough assessment and treatment plan.

I hope this answers your query.
In case you have additional questions or doubts, you can forward them to me, and I shall be glad to help you out.
Wishing you good health.
Regards.
Dr. Praveen Tayal.
For future query, you can directly approach me through my profile URL http://bit.ly/Dr-Praveen-Tayal

Above answer was peer-reviewed by : Dr. Deepak
doctor
default
Follow up: Dr. Praveen Tayal (1 hour later)
Dear Dr. Tayal,

Thank you very much for your thoughts. Your mention of hypothyroidism does make a whole lot of sense to me now. I AM always cold, and yes, we are experiencing colder temperatures this past week. I also can now be better prepared by staying hydrated with Oralyte. I will search for this tonight. I have never seen this before. However, when I've experienced cramping, I have found that drinking Pedialyte (for infants), seems to help it go away. Two nights ago I went through 14 powder packs of Pedialyte throughout those 5 cramp attacks. But then I had diarrhea, but that was way better than the painful cramps.

I will also take ibuprofen with my dinner, and find a muscle relaxer to have on hand.

And yes, you are so right, I AM under a lot of stress right now, with work responsibilities and with my mother-in-law who is being discharged from a care home and will come live with us from tomorrow.

If I am found to have hypothyroidism, are there medications I will need to take?
Any other treatment options for this condition? Is this a serious condition with other complications?

Thank you so very, very much Dr. Tayal. You are the first physician to provide me with answers to my symptoms and I truly appreciate your expertise.

much aloha,
XXXX
doctor
Answered by Dr. Praveen Tayal (5 hours later)
Brief Answer:
Low thyroid levels can be treated.

Detailed Answer:
Hello.
Thanks for writing again.
If your thyroid hormone levels are low, you can start with thyroid hormone therapy after consulting your physician regarding the doses.
This is not a serious condition and can be easily treated.
Hope my answer is helpful.
Do accept my answer in case there are no further queries.
Regards.

Above answer was peer-reviewed by : Dr. Sonia Raina
doctor
Answered by
Dr.
Dr. Praveen Tayal

Orthopaedic Surgeon

Practicing since :1994

Answered : 12159 Questions

premium_optimized

The User accepted the expert's answer

Share on
What causes frequent excruciating muscle cramps?

Brief Answer: A muscle relaxant can help. Detailed Answer: Hello, Thanks for posting your query. There are different possible causes for the symptoms that you are experiencing. One of the potential causes is hypothyroidism which is a low level of thyroid hormone. This is a hormone that plays an important part in the metabolism of the body. Hypothyroidism is commonly associated with cold intolerance and muscle spasm, the inability to tolerate cold would lead to shivering. It is diagnosed by a examination (there are certain features that are present when a person with hypothyroidism is examined) and by a blood test to assess the level of the thyroid hormone. In addition to hypothyroidism, electrolyte imbalance (levels checked by blood tests) and excess activity can result in muscle spasms. In addition to the physical causes of your discomfort, it is possible for physical complaints to be worsened by anxiety or stress. Muscular spasms can be treated by (1) treating the underlying cause (2) keeping yourself well hydrated with electrolyte rich fluids like Oralyte. (3) stretching the muscles involved (4) the use of anti inflammatory medication such as ibuprofen, cataflam with meals provided there are no contraindications to their use (5) a muscle relaxant may be necessary It may be best, if possible to visit your doctor for a thorough assessment and treatment plan. I hope this answers your query. In case you have additional questions or doubts, you can forward them to me, and I shall be glad to help you out. Wishing you good health. Regards. Dr. Praveen Tayal. For future query, you can directly approach me through my profile URL http://bit.ly/Dr-Praveen-Tayal