What can I do to make leg cramps go away if they happen?

You want to get rid of a leg cramp the moment it strikes. You might be finishing up an exercise routine, or you might be awakened in the middle of the night. In moments like that there are, unfortunately, no magical injections that can instantly relieve your pain. However, there are eight steps to take to possibly get rid of a leg cramp:

  1. Stretch. Straighten your leg and then flex it, pulling your toes towards your shin to stretch the muscles.
  2. Massage. Use your hands or a roller to massage the muscles.
  3. Stand. Get up. Press your feet against the floor.
  4. Walk. Wiggle your leg while you walk around.
  5. Apply heat. Use a heating pad or take a warm bath.
  6. Apply cold. Wrap a bag of ice in a towel and apply it to the area.
  7. Pain killers. Take ibuprofen or acetaminophen to help with the pain.
  8. Elevate. Prop up your leg after the cramp starts to feel better.

What kinds of stretches help get rid of leg cramps?

Try this if your cramp is in your calf muscle: While standing (or sitting with your leg unfolded before you), straighten your leg and lift your foot until your toes are pointing at your shin. Pull on your toes if you are able to reach them. You could also try walking around on your heels.

What medicines may help with leg cramps?

At this time, there is no recommended medication that can prevent leg cramps 100% of the time. However, there are some prescription medications that show a little evidence of preventing leg cramps. Under your healthcare provider’s watchful eye, you might want to try the following:

  • Carisoprodol (Soma®): A muscle relaxant.
  • Diltiazem (Cartia XT®): A calciuim-channel blocker.
  • Orphenadrine (Norflex®): Treats muscle spasms and relieves pain and stiffness in muscles.
  • Verapamil: A calciuim-channel blocker.

What vitamins may help with leg cramps?

No vitamin is likely to help with a leg cramp 100% of the time. However, some experts do recommend that you take a vitamin B12 complex.

Does quinine help with leg cramps?

Quinine was thought to show some promise with healing leg cramps, but it is no longer recommended. There are potentially life-threatening side effects: arrhythmias, thrombocytopenia and hypersensitivity reactions.

When should I get my leg cramps treated at the Emergency Department?

Go to the emergency department (ED) if a leg cramp lasts longer than 10 minutes or becomes unbearably painful. Also go if a leg cramp happens after you touch a substance that could be poisonous or infectious. For example, if you have a cut in your skin that touches dirt, you could get a bacterial infection like tetanus. Exposure to mercury, lead or other toxic substances should also be reason to go to the emergency department.

Is there a surgery that could help with my leg cramps?

At this time, surgery is not recommended as a cure for leg cramps.

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


Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. Policy