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How can I get Rid of a Leg Muscle Cramp?

Anna T.
Anna T.

You can get rid of a leg muscle cramp, also commonly referred to as a charley horse, through the use of ice, massage, and elevation of your leg. Another thing you may want to try to help your leg cramps are stretching exercises, but these exercises should be continued only if they do not cause you any increased discomfort. If you get a leg muscle cramp at night while you are trying to sleep, you may be able to alleviate the pain by taking non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medicines. In the event that your problems with leg cramps are chronic, you may want to see your doctor to determine the underlying cause of the cramps.

Ice is considered one of the most helpful things to use for leg cramps. One of the reasons why ice may be so helpful for eliminating pain and swelling from a leg muscle cramp is because the cold can constrict the veins inside the leg, which could reduce blood flow and decrease swelling in the affected area. Be careful not to apply the ice directly to your skin, because there is a risk of frostbite occurring when the ice is left on for too long. Before applying the ice to your leg, wrap your leg up in a towel so that the ice isn't coming directly in contact with it.

A person with defined leg muscles.
A person with defined leg muscles.

Massage is another way to get rid of a leg muscle cramp. You can either do this on your own or get someone to help you. Massage may be especially helpful just after exercising, and you might want to consider massaging your legs regularly after exercise or any other type of strenuous activity. It is possible that regular leg massages may also help to prevent muscle cramps in the legs, especially if they are done after exercising.

Staying hydrated helps prevent cramps.
Staying hydrated helps prevent cramps.

Elevating your leg may also be useful for getting rid of your leg muscle cramp. You should lie flat on your back with your cramped leg elevated to a level above your heart. Doing this will cause the blood in your leg to flow to your heart, which should help reduce the pain and swelling in your leg. If you do not find it too painful to do so, you could also try to sit on the floor with your legs straight out in front of you and stretch forward. Some people claim this stretching exercise helps get rid of their leg muscle cramps.

The human muscular system.
The human muscular system.

If leg cramps are a regular problem for you and seem particularly bothersome at night, you may need to occasionally take pain relievers at bedtime so you can sleep. Keep in mind that regular use of pain relievers is not recommended, and chronic leg cramps should be seen about by a doctor. Sometimes leg cramps occur because of vitamin and mineral deficiencies, or they may be symptoms of other health problems. Don't delay getting your symptoms evaluated by a doctor if the cramps are occurring often.

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Discussion Comments


I sometimes get very painful muscle cramps at night, and one of the main triggers is a sudden rush of cold air. As long as both legs stay under the warm blankets, nothing happens. But if one of my legs gets exposed to cold air, I'll get calf muscle cramps. There's really not much I can do until the spasms stop. but sometimes my wife will hold my ankle and foot at an angle so my foot won't seize up.

I've heard that eating foods high in potassium or magnesium, like bananas, will help prevent some leg cramps. I've also found that sports creams with heat will provide muscle cramp relief. In my experience, ice can sometimes trigger another spasm. Massage works better, but it can be very painful at first. Sometimes a nonprofessional masseuse can accidentally touch the wrong spot and trigger another spasm, too.


This may sound odd, but sometimes when I feel leg muscle cramps starting, I will pinch the space between my nose and upper lip and hold it during the spasm. For some reason, the leg cramp will either dissipate entirely or become less severe. I read about this technique in a book about home remedies, and I think it has something to do with sympathetic nerves or accupressure points. It doesn't work all the time, but it can provide some natural muscle cramp relief.

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    • A person with defined leg muscles.
      By: unpict
      A person with defined leg muscles.
    • Staying hydrated helps prevent cramps.
      By: spaxiax
      Staying hydrated helps prevent cramps.
    • The human muscular system.
      By: adimas
      The human muscular system.
    • Applying ice may help relieve a charley horse.
      By: Marc Dietrich
      Applying ice may help relieve a charley horse.
    • Stretching exercises that don't cause any additional discomfort can be used to treat a leg cramp.
      By: Maridav
      Stretching exercises that don't cause any additional discomfort can be used to treat a leg cramp.