A muscle cramp is an involuntarily and forcibly contracted muscle that does not relax. There are a variety of types and causes of muscle cramps. Numerous medicines can cause muscle cramps. Most muscle cramps can be stopped if the muscle can be stretched. A muscle that is cramping feels harder than normal to the touch or may even show visible signs of twitching.
Muscle cramps can be prevented by measures such as adequate nutrition and hydration, attention to safety when exercising. The primary treatment of muscle cramps involves methods to relax the affected muscle. This typically involves stretching, massage, and heat application. Stretch the cramped muscle and gently rub it to help it relax. For a calf cramp, put the weight on cramped leg and bend the knee slightly. If unable to stand, sit on the floor or in a chair with affected leg extended. Apply heat or cold. Use a warm towel or heating pad on tense or tight muscles. Taking a warm bath or directing the stream of a hot shower onto the cramped muscle also can help. Massaging the cramped muscle with ice may relieve pain.