Leg cramps

Overview

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Substantive changes at this update

Analgesics for idiopathic leg cramps One systematic review added.[2] Categorisation unchanged (unknown effectiveness).

Anti-epileptic drugs for idiopathic leg cramps One systematic review added.[2] Categorisation unchanged (unknown effectiveness).

Diltiazem for idiopathic leg cramps New option. One systematic review [2] and one small crossover RCT added.[3] Categorised as 'unknown effectiveness'.

Magnesium salts for idiopathic leg cramps One systematic review added.[4] Categorisation unchanged (unknown effectiveness).

Quinine for idiopathic leg cramps One systematic review added.[8] Categorisation unchanged (trade-off between benefits and harms).

Stretching exercises for idiopathic leg cramps One systematic review added.[13] Categorisation unchanged (unknown effectiveness).

Verapamil for idiopathic leg cramps New option. One systematic review added.[2] Categorised as 'unknown effectiveness'.

Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) for idiopathic leg cramps New option. One systematic review added.[2] Categorised as 'unknown effectiveness'.

Vitamin E for idiopathic leg cramps Two systematic reviews added.[8][2] Categorisation unchanged (unknown effectiveness).

Calcium salts for leg cramps in pregnancy One systematic review updated.[15] Categorisation unchanged (unknown effectiveness).

Magnesium salts for leg cramps in pregnancy One systematic review added.[4] Categorisation changed from 'likely to be beneficial' to 'unknown effectiveness'.

Multivitamins and mineral supplements for leg cramps in pregnancy One systematic review updated.[15] Categorisation unchanged (unknown effectiveness).

Sodium chloride for leg cramps in pregnancy One systematic review updated.[15] Categorisation unchanged (unknown effectiveness).

Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) for leg cramps in pregnancy New option. One systematic review added.[15] Categorised as 'unknown effectiveness'.

Vitamin E for leg cramps in pregnancy One systematic review updated.[15] Categorisation unchanged (unknown effectiveness).

Abstract

INTRODUCTION: Involuntary, localised leg cramps are common and typically affect the calf muscles at night. METHODS AND OUTCOMES: We conducted a systematic review and aimed to answer the following clinical questions: What are the effects of treatments for idiopathic leg cramps? What are the effects of treatments for leg cramps in pregnancy? We searched: Medline, Embase, The Cochrane Library, and other important databases up to January 2014 (BMJ Clinical Evidence reviews are updated periodically; please check our website for the most up-to-date version of this review). We included harms alerts from relevant organisations such as the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the UK Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA). RESULTS: We found 16 studies that met our inclusion criteria. We performed a GRADE evaluation of the quality of evidence for interventions. CONCLUSIONS: In this systematic review we present information relating to the effectiveness and safety of the following interventions: analgesics; anti-epileptic drugs; calcium salts; diltiazem; magnesium salts; multivitamin and mineral supplements; quinine; sodium chloride; stretching exercises; verapamil; vitamin B6 (pyridoxine); and vitamin E.

Cite as

Young G. Leg cramps. Systematic review 1113. BMJ Clinical Evidence. . 2015 May. Accessed [date].

Latest citations

Assessment: symptomatic treatment for muscle cramps (an evidence-based review): report of the therapeutics and technology assessment subcommittee of the American academy of neurology. ( 16 February 2016 )

Effect of magnesium therapy on nocturnal leg cramps: a systematic review of randomized controlled trials with meta-analysis using simulations. ( 16 February 2016 )