How are leg cramps diagnosed?

Your healthcare provider will need to know your medical history, medications and a description of what you’re experiencing. Be specific. Report your symptoms to your healthcare provider and include the following information:

  • When the leg cramps started happening.
  • What your pain feels like.
  • When the cramps happen (at night, for example, or after vigorous exercise).
  • How long the cramps last.
  • Any other symptoms you’re experiencing.

Your healthcare provider will need to tell the difference between your leg cramps from other conditions that may resemble them:

  • Claudication.
  • Peripheral neuropathy.
  • Myositis.
  • Restless legs syndrome.

To distinguish those differences, your healthcare provider may:

  • Check the palpation of pulses.
  • Evaluate physical sensations such as pinpricks.
  • Test deep tendon reflexes.
  • Test the strength of your leg.

Do I need to have any testing done to diagnose my leg cramps?

Blood, urine and other routine tests are not helpful in diagnosing leg cramps but they may help identify previously undiagnosed medical conditions that have leg cramps as a symptom. For example, your healthcare provider will likely perform typical tests such as taking your blood pressure, and that can reveal cardiac and vascular risks.

What questions might my healthcare provider ask about my leg cramps?

To help your healthcare provider diagnose you, they may ask the following questions about your leg cramps:

  • When do you experience the leg cramps?
  • How often do your leg cramps occur?
  • How would you describe your leg cramps?
  • How long do the leg cramps last?
  • What medications are you currently taking?
  • What known medical conditions do you have?
  • Are you concerned about medical conditions that may be causing your leg cramps?
  • Are you having any symptoms of another medical condition?

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 08/03/2020.

References

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