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Where do leg cramps come from and how can I avoid them?


Leg cramps, or as they are sometimes known as Charley Horses, typically happen after exercise or at night. They can result from muscle strain or overuse, nerve malfunctions, dehydration, decreased minerals or an overall lack of minerals like calcium and potassium in your body or a lack of blood getting to the muscle. When you feel a cramp, you should stop any activity that may be irritating the muscle. Then you should gently massage or stretch the muscle to relieve cramping and pain. Heat can also aid relaxing the muscle but ice can be applied after heat to help recovery and healing of the muscle. Anti-inflammatory non-steroidal painkillers like ibuprofen (Advil®), aspirin (Bayer®) and naproxen (Aleve®) can ease muscle pain from a muscle cramp. If your leg cramps are persistent, check with a health professional to rule out any more serious medical or nerve issues. You can prevent leg cramps by drinking lots of fluids like water, eating high-potassium foods like bananas and properly stretching before and after strenuous exercise.

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Answers to questions regarding information about medications or health conditions are not for diagnostic or treatment purposes and are not conclusive as to the presence or absence of any health condition. Consult your physician for diagnosis and treatment of your medical condition. The information provided is not a substitute for medical advice. Advances in medicine may cause this information to become outdated, invalid or subject to debate. Professional opinions and interpretations of the scientific literature may vary. Walgreens' terms of use and general warranty disclaimer apply to all services provided. If you are in need of immediate medical attention, contact your physician, poison control center or emergency medical professional. If you need to speak with a pharmacist for non-emergency matters, contact your local Walgreens pharmacist or call a pharmacist toll-free at 1 (877) 250-5823.

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