A painful, involuntary contraction of a muscle.


When a muscle suddenly tightens on its own and doesn't relax, causing pain.


Stop doing the activity that led to the cramp. Massage the tight muscle. Gently stretch it. Place a warm towel or an ice pack on it. Have a sports drink to get electrolytes.

When to make a doctor's appointment

See a health care professional if the cramps:

  • Are very painful.
  • Happen often.
  • Don't go away or don't get better with self-care.
  • Aren't related to causes such as hard exercise or dehydration.

© 1998-2023 Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research (MFMER). All rights reserved. | Terms of Use