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Severe Cramps
March 2002

Q. My mother is 51 and has suffered severe cramps from a young age. She gets them everywhere (i.e., calves, thighs, neck, toes, back, chest) and has recently experienced cramping in the process of a yawn. She has tried diet changes, calcium supplements etc. She has seen the doctor numerous times, been to the hospital for tests where they injected dye into her veins determining that her circulation was fine. I would say on average, she gets cramps 5 nights a week, sometimes several times a night.

I have read the advice posted regarding leg cramps but feel this may be slightly different. I have a few questions:
a. Is there anything else you can suggest to help prevent this or perhaps some other professional direction
b. I too suffer from cramps although not continously like my mother. I understand it is hereditery - is this true?
c. What causes this? Is it due to being active during childhood and then not being as active in your adult life?

A. It sounds as though your mother has had quite a thorough investigation. The key to any treatment is to establish a diagnosis as to the underlying cause. Common causesof muscle cramps would include muscle fatigue, dehydration, thyroid disorders, and electrolyte disturbance (minerals in the blood stream including sodium, potassium, calcium and others). Your mother's condition is unusual in that it bothers her most days rather than just occasionally. Other considerations would include inherited disorders of the muscle tissue, and certain neurologic disorders. Doctors who specialized in rheumatology (muscles and joints) or neurology can help decide what other tests might be helpful in this regard.



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