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When are leg cramps worrisome?

Leg cramps in the inner thigh, outer thigh, calf and arch of the foot can happen any time you’re running, exercising, simply walking around or even at night. Most often, muscle cramps will go away by changing your daily habits.

But what happens if your cramps never go away? Your body may be signaling that the pain in your leg isn’t just a small cramp.

Blood flow, oxygen and leg cramps are connected

Woman massaging her calf worried about leg cramps
Cramps come from changes in the flow of blood and supply of oxygen in the blood.

Cramps come from changes in the flow of blood and supply of oxygen in the blood.

“The muscle itself needs oxygen and the proper blood flow,” said Candace Pernsteiner, a physical therapist at Marshfield Clinic Health System. “If you’re using the muscle too much, you’re using up its oxygen supply as well as supply of energy. As a result, you are burning it out. If the muscle is starved for oxygen, then you’ll get a cramp.”

Main causes of cramps include dehydration, muscle overuse and muscle strain or trauma. The blood supply is compromised when you don’t have enough fluids in your muscles.

Cramps also can come from repeating a particular motion for a very long time, such as running. You also can get leg cramps from standing in place for long periods of time.

Common places to get leg cramps

The most common places to get leg cramps include the calf, thigh and arch of the foot. Below is more information about each spot and a stretch to help the cramping.

Download Leg Cramp Stretches Handout

Inner thigh cramp:

Inner thigh cramps happen on the inside of your upper leg. If you are cramping in this area, do the below stretches.

inner thigh cramp stretches

Outer thigh cramp:

Outer thigh cramps happen on the outside of your upper leg. If you have a cramp in your outer thigh, do the below stretches.

outer thigh cramp stretches

Calf cramp:

A calf cramp happens when the back side of your bottom leg cramps. If you have a cramp in your calf, do the below stretches.

calf cramp stretches

Cramp in arch of foot:

A cramp in the arch of your foot happens in the center-bottom of your foot. If you have a cramp in the arch of your foot, do the below stretches.

arch of foot cramp stretches

You can treat smaller cramps

The best way to avoid leg cramps is to stay hydrated. Drink water or sports drinks for electrolytes and cut back on alcohol and caffeine.

“Soft drinks make you urinate your water, so you think you’re getting fluids but you aren’t getting the correct fluids,” Pernsteiner said. “Take in something that will stay in you to keep hydrated. Soda as well as coffee actually dehydrates you by making you use the restroom more.”

Stretch your muscles if you think they are overused or strained. It also helps to use ice or heat to break up the cramp and ease any pain in the legs. Eating a balanced diet of fruits and veggies can help, especially with potassium and magnesium.

More than just a cramp

If you have leg cramps all of the time, such as at night, it can be more than just overusing the muscles.

“If there’s a cramp that’s brought on that does not seem to be caused by physical activity, it can be a sign of a chronic condition,” Pernsteiner said.

The first chronic condition could be an issue with blood flow, or peripheral artery disease. Plaque builds up in the arteries, which leads to blood not going to the muscles.

The second condition is nerve compression, or the narrowing and pinching of nerves in the spine.

Finally, some medications can cause leg cramping. These medications include diuretics that make you dehydrated and blood pressure and cholesterol drugs.

If you have leg cramps not brought on by physical activity, see your doctor or ask for a referral to physical therapy to learn what may be causing the cramps.

For questions about leg cramps, talk to a Marshfield Clinic Health System provider.

Schedule appointment Message your provider

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93 responses to “When are leg cramps worrisome?”

  1. Danna92

    I’m so glad I found this page. I’ve suffered with leg cramps since I was a teenager. I’m 49 now. I’ve tried so many things. Supplements, stretching, water, electrolytes, vitamins, creams, exercise, no exercise….list is long. Recently the inner thigh cramps kicked in after a long bike ride, but I’ve had the same cramps just relaxing on the couch. I can’t figure out when they are gonna hit. Ive also had cramps throughout both legs all the way to my toes. But I’ve also had cramps in my abs. They can happen just from bending over to tie my shoes. Pain in unbearable. Im hoping to read about more possible solutions to the issue.

  2. Matthew Wohl

    So these started started for me after becoming dehydrated. The cramps would wake me up and most often were in the abductors and were as painful as anything I’ve ever felt. After three nights of no sleep and also intermittently getting calf, foot AND hamstring cramps besides the abductors, I went to the ER. I spent three or four trips at the ER because they couldn’t figure it out or misdiagnosed me with restless leg syndrome and gave me meds that didn’t work. It started when I was dehydrated yes, but the problem has continued well past that episode. I had my fluid levels AND electrolyte levels tested and they were normal yet I was still having the problem. Now I get pain in the abductors out of nowhere it seems sometimes or with just mild working out like elliptical or stairs or leg extensions. My doctor wasn’t any help and nor were the ER docs although some were far better than others. I told the first doctor, it’s NOT restless leg syndrome and he got snotty and said well you’re not dehydrated so that is what I am diagnosing take it or leave it. Gave me a Rx that if I recall was a steroid and it did absolutely nothing… because it ISN’T restless leg syndrome lol. You’d think maybe a consult or referral to a specialist but no. The problem has just recently returned and I’m gonna keep an eye on this thread and try some of these ideas like magnesium and mustard! Blood flow issues or diabetes wouldn’t surprise me as a Dx but I hope not! Hot baths at 3 am to soak your screaming legs are fun right?! Most people don’t know how hard it is to stretch TWO cramps at the same time!!! That’s why I went to the hospital because they would cramp in two or three spots like both abductors and a hamstring. Ugh…

  3. Scarlett Z

    I too am.sufferimg with these.severe.uer backed leg cramps.in bith.legs!.I font.knoe it came on last.night and continued on into today and now it is 11:34 pm and it looks like I'm going to have yet another sleepless night. These cramps came out of nowhere and I've never experienced such pain that it stopped me in my tracks and fell to the floor and with my Jane I was trying to apply pressure on both legs, I do believe.i may be dehydrated because I I jad been b alittle sick and wasn't able to eat for 2 days became stomache was hurting and on top of these issues I had a . come on so so stong at it had me in tears and I'm a single parent so I think I will be taking a trip to the doctors there in hopes that they may give me fluids , i dont drink much water so this is what i suspect has happened, the pain is absolutely intolerable and so many people experience this and I only know of it here! We need to do better!

  4. Eanna1957

    Thank you Rosebud 1920! Loved your input. You are the first person to really give some definition on the cramping. I have been suffering with this for years. I noticed that when I have mustard, red sauce or wine, vinegar, or bananas I cramp more. It usually happens out of nowhere, and hurts to the point of tears. I agree, “ make sure your doctor understands your situation and do prior to loading up on OTC electrolytes that in high amounts or the wrong proportions can have an effect on heart function when you may not be; but make sure he understands your situation prior to loading up on OTC electrolytes that in high amounts or the wrong proportions can have an effect on heart function when you may not be deficient.” Thank you.

  5. Annie flower

    This post is very depressing as I too am a sufferer. I hoped there would be something I could try, to stop this happening. There is no pattern… maybe after exercise, lack of exercise, drinking too much coffee, not drinking enough water, sudden changes in temperature, too cold….. may bring along an attack. I have dragged myself into the shower in the night when the pain is too much and alternated between hot and cold water until it starts to wear off. Can’t believe so many suffer with this and nothing can be done.

  6. Paula

    I have had horrendous leg cramps. They occur in both legs at the same time from the feet all the way up to the groin. The spasms twist my feet and legs so much that I am always fearful that a bone will break. They have lasted for hours, the longest was an incident that continued for eight hours straight with no let up. I cannot get up at all because every tiny move makes the pain even greater and the soles of my feet are nearly sideway; if I stood I would be on my ankles. They also occur in my hands, chest, fingers and stomach. There is nothing I can do to stop it when it gets this bad. I have found Tonic Water to be somewhat preventive. I have to drink a couple cups of it every day to try to stay in front of it. I also get nerve pain off and on in my legs and back. I have sciatic, bulging discs and degenerating spine so I realize that could be a factor. I've tried magnesium without success, Amish tonic for muscle cramps, Gatorade, too, but they have had no effect. I also have COPD and am on oxygen at night. There is a lot going on, obviously.

  7. Sherri

    Thank you for the information both legs top to bottom dopp me last night I know I’m dehydrated I had at least two EmergencC’s for the minerals and an extra magnesium which I love. I also have a spray top On my bottle of H2O two which helps immensely but this one still lasted at least 10 minutes. Minerals, electrolytes and real salt like pink Himalayan have over 96 minerals our blood and embryonic fluid is salt water. Not table salt which is just sodium chloride one mineral we need them all to be in homeostasis/balance.

  8. Sherri

    Thank you for the information both legs top to bottom dopp me last night I know I’m dehydrated I had at least two EmergencC’s for the minerals and an extra magnesium which I love. I also have a spray top On my bottle of H2O two which helps immensely but this one still lasted at least 10 minutes. Minerals, electrolytes and real salt like pink hymalayian have over 96 minerals our blood and embryonic fluid is salt water. Not table salt which is just sodium chloride one mineral we need them all to be in homeostasis/balance.

  9. Blaine

    I get them bad has even torn my inner thigh muscles. I have tried EVERYTHING under the sun. The only product that works for me is the Amish Leg & Foot Cramp cure. Sold by Caleb Treeze. It is a mixture of apple cider vinegar, garlic and ginger. It is the only thing that stop it in less than a minute or two.

  10. Jennifer W.

    Last night I had one of these horrible inner thigh cramps. I was in excruciating pain and wasn't really sure what it was. I was thinking it may be a blood clot because it felt much deeper than calf cramps that I have had in the past. It went on for about 5 minutes in my right thigh. About 3 minutes into it my right hand started getting numb and tingly. Has anyone every had that happen. My foot also felt a bit tingly. I am planning on calling my doctor on Monday as it was pretty scary .My husband was ready to take me to the ER but then it settled down. Today it is sore but no physical sign of it – no bruise or redness or swelling. Hoping this is not something that is going to continue to happen!

  11. Jori Jackson

    Thank you all for sharing! I have painful cramps while sleeping at night. Just a sudden move and it happens. I have been using Magnesium Asporotate 400 mg, Liquid vitamin D3 and B12 complex. I still get them but not 3 times a week like before. I will try mustard. I used potassium pills from my doctor but the cramps got worse so I started using magnesium because I read too much potassium can effect your magnesium level. There are so many causes for having these cramps in both legs. Have anyone received help from a doctor with a diagnosis that completely stopped the cramps?

  12. Cindy Stubblefield

    I have had cramps in the back of my thighs 3 different times. The first time was when I was sitting on my bed and I got up and then both legs had them in the back at top my of my thighs. My husband was afraid the neighbors were going to think he was killing me because I was screaming so loud and it lasted around 5 minutes. He really thought I could control my screaming but it was the very worst pain I have ever experienced, childbirth or the contractions when you are fully dilated wasn’t even close and I had natural childbirth three times. The second time I got it was when I went to stand up from sitting but idk why but that time wasn’t as bad but it was still bad. The third time was just the other night in my sleep and it was on both legs and I passed out and when I woke up I didn’t know what had happened at first and then within 15 seconds of waking up and trying to figure out why I had fell asleep ( which I didn’t I literally passed out) I got the cramps back after that 15 seconds and my husband brought me water and I just poured it all over myself. They finally went away (after my husband grabbed the water bottle and told me to drink it which I did). I also think I started cramping other places but my head was a little foggy after the passing out. My face just started tingling all the way up and then I woke up sitting on toilet trying to figure out what had happened. I was wore out and felt really weird the rest of the day. I think the passing out is what made me feel so weird . What I did earlier was I was hunting and I sat in my stand for 4-5 hours so maybe that is why I got them later in the night!!! Passing out is just icing on the cake and it messes you up when that happens. I don't wish these cramps on anyone. Thanks for listening!!!!

  13. Vickie

    Hi, I have cramps from my toes all the way up to the groin at least four times a week in my right leg most of the time sometimes in my left leg also. The only thing that helps me and believe me I’ve tried everything! is heat. I bought a very long heating pad and I sleep with it at night so that I don't get them as often now. If I’m watching TV and I start getting a cramp in either Leg I put a heating pad on it immediately if I can’t get up and walk, my husband get it for me.

  14. Magsban

    Just found this site… I suffer these horrific inner thigh cramps and tonight being the worst I have had in months.. and yes like a lot of you here, I drink lots of tonic water, take magnesium, I don’t do excessive exercise but do like walking. I have just been diagnosed with a DVT in my right leg same leg I suffer the most cramps, although I do get them in my left leg too, I am on blood thinners, statins and blood pressure tablets. When I have an attack I could scream the house down and end up in floods of tears and exhausted, Just can’t cope with them anymore I’m at breaking point woukd rather my leg cut off than go through this excruciating pain, For four years I walked on a broken foot not knowing I had broken it! And I am telling you now I would rather suffer that pain every day than suffer these horrendous cramps. My heart goes out to all of you that suffer.

  15. Rob m

    I have been having these cramps in my inner thigh for about a year, average about three nights a week and occasionally while driving. I am forty five and had a very active life. I was involved in a major accident when I was twenty eight and have had multiple other injuries and surgeries. These cramps rank up there with some of the worst pain i have ever felt. My wife was convinced there must be a serious medical issue because in twenty four years of marriage she has rarely seen me react to pain like I do when these babies come on. I even get angry, swear, yell and whatever else I can do to distract me while I drag myself across the floor to the bathroom to get a drink of water. I am actually relieved to read that there are so many other people with this horrible curse! A cup of tonic water before bed and I don’t get them but after not having one for awhile I tend to forget and then BAM! And what an awful time in the middle of the night to be awakened by that pain. Good luck y’all.

  16. Michael

    Misery loves company? I would not wish these on my worst enemies. My first episode of adductor inner and almost upper thighs cramping, but mostly lower mid thigh is where I fee it was 2016. I was 50 years old. I am lifetime cyclist. The first time was at the end of a grueling 60 mile ride/event in the sierras. So I was on the bike, and tried rubbing it out. I barely got into the finish with two miles to go. I considered this acceptable because of exertion and the possibility of being dehydrated. Shortly after this event, I had a night time in bed event, unbelievably painful. Most of my attacks I call them are in the later evening getting off the couch to go to bed, or when sleeping. I have had them so severe that I sweat, feel nausea, and last night I thought I was going to throw up. All other cramp locations I can fix or stop – these adductors have a mind of their own, it is in charge from 3 to almost 10 minutes. If have an attack at night, I have a very hard time falling back to sleep from fear of another one coming, I am soo aware of how to position my legs and not move certain ways to bring them on. I drink plenty of water, especially in the evenings, I take magnesium, I have one banana in the morning. I sometimes take advil before bed. I had about 4 months with no attacks, but here it is again. I cycle intermittently with increasing mileage or decreasing it. I was runner many years ago. I stretch as best I can. One of the hardest parts is that my Lady does not give me enough credit in rating the pain – she thinks I am being a big baby. Anyhow, I hope to find better routines, or answers to manage.

  17. Antonio Padilla

    I have read many various at home treatments for leg cramping but mine are both cramping so bad that I can't even move. Both thighs feel like a knife is being pushed right through each thigh very slowly and any additional movement makes it so much more painful. I can be laying down and make the absolute slightest of movement and they immediate cramp and all I can do is grab my blankets and dig my teeth into them so much that I feel I could possibly break them from biting down so hard. I can't even try to stand up to try to flex the legs because of the excruciating pain. Does anyone else's cramps get this bad?

  18. Joseph D Smith

    I feel for all of you. I've dealt with the inner thigh cramps for 10 years. It comes and goes for me. The worst was both legs at the same time 3 separate times in one night. My legs were bruised so badly it look like I had been beaten. That round lasted about a month. Then it was about two years and it hit me again. I've had so many test done and they all come back normal. I do have stenosis and other back issues but the doctors don't feel they are related. Mustard really helps, all of the Hyland products help as well as Theraworks. It hit me for the first time in over 2 years and only in my right leg. I think I'll make an appointment to the Sansum clinic for a full workup. I'm tired of treating the symptoms I want to fix the problem.

  19. Joseph D Smith

    I'm Joe and I have had these since I was in my early 40s. I'm very fit and my electrolytes are always perfect. I have had them so bad in one night my upper inner thighs were very bruised, like I was hit with a bat. I have had so many test done and they all come back good. It's been years since I've had really bad ones until tonight. I managed to make it to the kitchen and gulped down some mustard and some electrolytes. It took 10 to 15 minutes and it was gone. Thank God it was only my right leg. I'll be 52 in October and I thought I was done with them. Heck I don't even know how to stretch that muscle. Until I saw this article I thought I was on my own.

  20. Michael Cronauer

    I just woke up at 2:16am because of my calf hurting like nothing else I e ever felt, I'm literally in tears right now and I want to know how to make it stop, it doesn't hurt at the moment, it feels dense like it'll do It again if I move my leg at all

    1. Jacob Zipperer

      Hi Michael,

      We recommend talking directly with your provider about this. Due to their knowledge of your medical history and past conditions, they can best advise you.


  21. Mindy

    I’m a kindergarten teacher and standing on my feet all day brings on toes, feet, legs, thigh, groin, severe leg cramps where I almost pass out. It happens during the day and mostly at night. It’s excruciating! It’s gotten worse in the last 5 years. I had an MRI and do not have MS. I take supplements, drink water, eat mustard, drink pickle juice, exercise…nothing works. I even sleep on my belly with my feet hanging off the mattress. My doctor made an appointment for our local Rheumatologist and can’t get in until June 2022. I can’t wait that long. When I’m teaching my thighs go numb and my lower back hurts. I do have a mild herniated disk. My red blood count is elevated and my CKT. I had blood work done weekly for a month and this didn’t change. I went boating over the weekend and was swimming to the ladder and a cramp started. Both legs. I could have drowned. After an attack I’m extremely sore for a week in both legs. I’ve read all these comments looking for answers. Does this sound like an auto immune disease?

    1. Jacob Zipperer

      Hello Mindy,

      Thank you for reaching out.

      We recommend talking about the symptoms you are experiencing directly with your provider.


  22. Jackie sammartino

    I’m so glad I found this page. I’m 66 and just started having inner thigh muscle cramps. I’m not taking meds or excessive exercise. My electro lights are fine. It’s so painful I feel a very deep nausea. I’m not sure what to do. I’m afraid to go to bed

  23. Tyler Jay

    I have been having muscle spasms on my right tight about my knee for a long time.
    It happens for example when I crouch low, it feels like the muscle is twisting or folding.
    It was really bad today whilst I was practising various dance moves.
    It tingles in my right ankle, shin and in the knee area where it happened.

    1. Jacob Zipperer

      Hi Tyler,

      We recommend talking directly with your provider about this. Due to their knowledge of your medical history and past conditions, they can best advise you.



    I have also been getting what I thought was Charley Horse cramping all over my legs – (the most frightening for me is the back upper thigh – one time my knee got stuck in a bending leg position and I could not move – I thought I would die with the pain – eventually I screamed in pain so loudly it seemed to frighten the pain away!! sounds a little off the wall – maybe the scream released some kind of trapped nerve? I try banana – apple cider vinegar – magnesium/potassium foods – now it has got to the stage where I feel the pain coming on and I am so afraid that I have made a decision to look into further investigation with liver – kidney etc – the pain cannot be doing my heart any good – a couple of days ago I was admitted to hospital with a suspected heart attack – they found that the blood supply is not getting to my heart – some kind of problem with branch block ….. I have to research it more – I did not know so many people suffered so badly – I wish everyone well and a solution

  25. William

    Mustard, diet tonic water for immediate help. You see NHL players sitting on bench eating a packet when they cramp up – it works! Apple cider both orally and topically will help too but it is a bit smelly. Long term, stretching, massage and staying hydrated. The pain is excruciating for sure!

  26. john h

    I have been getting inner thigh cramps for a few years now – excruciating pain which travels up through to the groin area – I am unable to move apart from standing quickly – I get these cramps mostly after exercise – I think the cause in my case are the blood pressure and chloresterol tablets i take –
    nothing i do stops these cramps apart from standing still and trying to ride the pain out which usually lasts about ten minutes

  27. Rosebud1920

    This is not always a dehydration or mineral deficient situation. It can be nerve or artery related. I suggest that anyone with these horrible cramps see an artery/vein clinic to be checked for blood flow/ circulation issues in your legs. The point is if there are circulation issues and please don’t let a doctor tell you oh your foot/ankle pulse is fine so no issues. They told my grandfather that for a long time until he had to have bypass surgery in both legs and it solved the issues. He was about to lose one and maybe both legs due to stupidity or so called superiority complex of a doctor. Just as important if you have been throughly checked for blood flow in the legs, no issues, no PAD, etc then see an reputable spine doctor ( not one of these laser therapy types that aren’t FDA approved) but a real spine doctor — who will do MRI to check for disc issues, sciatica, etc. I won’t recommend surgery for all issues… because I have seen people have 5-7+ back operations and no relief so be very careful and look to strengthening of core and back, and exercises or other methods of decompression of your back. I find ice on the sciatic area helps, ice on the inner thigh, down the shins etc helps along with aspirin, swimming exercise (91-93 F therapeutic water temps), stretching in the pool or out, compounded pain cream to put on specific areas. I sometimes find relief in a deep pool area with a floatation belt or vest on or a noodle just relaxing and hanging where I can let the body decompress the spine thus the nerves in the inner thigh. They say inversion tables used under supervision can help but I haven’t done this, not much on hanging upside down. But there are orthopedic positions that can help with the nerve pain from stenosis. My point is don’t just assume you can drink some vinegar, eat mustard, a few bananas and end your problems. Maybe it will, but you could have other serious issues. Losing your legs due to bad circulation isn’t fun. I have a friend that lost his lower legs, and fingers due to circulation issues stemming from years of diabetes, another friend lost an arm due to circulation but no diabetes. Others have suffered with entrapped nerves in hands, wrists, arms and legs for years before finding out what the issue was.
    That said, making sure you aren’t dehydrated and aren’t deficient in minerals/electrolytes can be done by blood work. If no restrictions, make sure you get 6-8 glasses of fluids (preferably not sodas, coffee, or tea). Make those extra as caffeine does cause your to lose fluids due to urination. Talk to your doctor about getting an open standing order for blood work at your nearest LabCorp or his office without an appt. As soon as you have these cramps in your legs, body, abdomen, etc — get to the lab ASAP to get blood done to see if it can be caught. Things like blood sodium, potassium, dehydration, etc are usually done in normal blood panels. But make sure he understands your situation and do prior to loading up on OTC electrolytes that in high amounts or the wrong proportions can have an effect on heart function when you may not be deficient. My grandmother went into cardiac arrest due to electrolyte imbalance — at the hospital they were like well she is in her 80s, had a long life. When I checked her chart I was like why are we leaving her electrolytes like this — they started replacing and she went from having 1-2 days left to live to living for another 10 years doing her thing. Making sure you are eating a balance diet that provides potassium, magnesium, etc and don’t be crazy on limiting salt. Try to stay in the 1800-2400 range based on your doctor’s recommendation based on your blood pressure, heart, kidneys. 24 hour urine sodium testing can be done to see if you are excreting lots of salt. I was at one time trying to stay under 1700 and made my already bad cramping issue 100% worse. Won’t do that again. Not enough salt can make you nauseated, cramps, weak and fatigued. Your body needs salt but like everything in our lives, moderation is key. Always follow your doctor’s recommendations not someone else’s doctor, or some newest trend article. Your doctor will or should know your particular situation.

  28. Petra

    I also have excruciatingly painful inner thigh (adductor longus) cramps at night. I think mine may stem from neurologic issues (nerve and muscle inflammation from chronic infectious tick borne disease, esp Bartonella and Lyme), but I also have spondylolisthesis, so not sure what exactly is going on. Any of you have a history of chronic Lyme or Bartonella? I have my husband get me mustard and water and it does seem to help. I take lots of supplements due to my chronic immune dysfunction from tick borne disease, including boat loads of magnesium. Stress and dehydration seems to possibly trigger them. Not activity related. I feel for all of you out there. They are awful.

  29. Lynn

    Inner thigh cramps are horrendously excruciating. I can feel the muscle contract and relax over and over again. Each time it relaxes, and I think it’s over, it’ll contract again, until it finally stops. This last time, last night, vinegar didn’t even help. Just when I haven’t had any in awhile and I think they’re gone for good, I get one.

  30. Catherine Medeiros

    Thank you all for the suggestion for the inner thigh cramps..the feelings are mutual I've had it for 11 years know and I have done everything under the sun and no signs of relief ..went to a back specialist and even he said he can't help me , due to the situation of the surgery that I had on my back it made things difficult to do any persidure on my back …

  31. David

    I’m 61 years old and ever since I passed 50 I started getting very very painful inner thigh cramps. But there was a common pattern that I began to notice that resulted in the cramps. Every time I worked out ok the gym and sweater al lot, thus losing fluids, I never replenished that loss of fluids from working out by drinking water since I didn’t want to pee because that was super annoying. It was dehydration that was causing the excruciating inner thigh cramps, usually both thighs at the same time. I would drag myself to the kitchen, barely making it there, on the verge of making an emergency call, and there in the kitchen I would stand in front of the sink while tightening both my thighs and simultaneously filling a water bottle and gulping down bottle after bottle of water. It was very very scary, especially since I live in the attic by myself and have no way of climbing down the stairs in such pain with both inner thighs cramping out of control. Literally five minutes after chugging down about three to four 20 ounce bottles of water the pain went away completely, since the water reached the inner thigh muscles. I avoided this problem for years until yesterday. The night before I did about 40 minutes of cycling on a newly purchased indoor exercise bike. When I was done I didn’t drink any water because I didn’t want to pee in the middle of the night. The next morning when I woke up I took a shower, and left the house still not drinking any water because I had some errands to do in the city and didn’t want to have to pee and look for a public restroom. So that whole day I didn’t drink water for about over 14 hours. When I came home, I showered, ate my dinner and drank two 20 ounce bottles of water. Apparently that wasn’t enough to replenish the water that was not in my body from all those hours of not drinking any. The cramps came back like a nightmare. I somehow dragged myself to the kitchen and downed four 20 ounce bottles of water. I was panicking too because I did remember that I drank two 20 ounce bottles of water right before going to bed!!! Apparently it wasn’t enough, as I mentioned above. After four 20 ounce bottles of water the pain went away. So folks, this is caused by dehydration and the solution is water

  32. Steve Thomas

    I've had these horrendous inner thigh cramps for 14 years now. Once or twice a month and nothing seems to help. Not Quinine, not magnesium not cider vinegar. Unless you have experienced these particular cramps its difficult to appreciate how bad they can be. I've spoken to women who have rated it worse than child birth.

  33. Kimberly

    Ive had the worst inner thigh cramping today that Ive ever had. I got very light headed and almost fainted. Got into a very hot tub and muscles were spasming so bad I could see it. Was horrible. Scares me so bad.

  34. Anny

    I just started having these the past couple of months. First it was maybe once a week now it's every other night. So scary and it's paralyzing. Thought I could walk it off like a regular cramp. What a horrible feeling. I'm almost afraid to lay down. Sad to see that this is so much more common than I thought but glad that there are others that understand.

  35. Jason isom

    I am so glad to know that I am not the only one going through this last night it happened at 3 a.m. I went to fold my legs to get into bed to put my legs underneath the covers and then boom my inner thigh starts to pull and the pain is unbearable I'm screaming I get out of bed I never tried any of the oral stuff but I do notice a warm or hot rag up against the pulling muscles helps. Once I got it in both thighs at the same time I couldn't move it was terrible

  36. Irene Huber

    Ok I have been down this road a few times in the last couple of years. The pain omg. I have fainted or passed out 3 different times. Woke up on the floor drenched in sweat. I literally am thinking I'm going to die. The ways I use is heat or ice. Ice works better. Last night I actually took the ice out of my drink cup as I couldn't move. I take potassium almost daily. There is something else I notice ( this is gonna sound weird ) I get little blisters on the bottom of my feet almost always when I get these cramps, usually just before I get the cramps in my thighs. Usually if I forget the potassium this happens. It's kind of a relief knowing I'm not the only one getting these. Unless you've had them you don't know the severity of it.

  37. CB

    I thought it was just me who gets these every so often. My family and GF would look at me like I was nuts as I screamed in pain and hobbled around. Almost feels like I'm going to have a heart attack from the pain…so awful! A couple swigs of pickle juice…water…a banana…and just waiting it out. Nothing else has worked but will try some of these suggestions.

  38. Donna Thurman

    I have had these for years. Now they are both legs from hips to toes. Once into lower waste. Tried all the above. Worked for a little bit. Now I can't find anything that relieves them. Passing out with them. Pain for up to 20-30 minutes. Trips to ER by ambulance because I couldn't move. I've had MRI'S of my back and neck. Ultrasounds of my legs. Bloodwork. They say they see nothing that should cause this. They are always of a night. I've noticed eating salt, being on my feet a lot, certain movements trigger these. But not always. Sometimes they just happen. I dread for evening to get here, because I'm afraid I will have these horrible sickening pains. I'm currently on muscle relaxers and was given a pain med I won't take.
    Thank you to everyone for sharing. I'm praying for answers and help.

    1. Ellen Green

      Hi Donna (et all)- I have been having inner thigh cramps and side cramps (just under the rib cage) for decades now. They are excruciating!!
      The best quick remedy I use is Hyland's quick dissolving leg cramp medicine. You stick a couple under your tongue and everything calms down within minutes. What I want to find out is what to eat, pill to take, etc so they don't happen at all!!

      1. Donna Thurman

        I want to find out what's causing it too. Not just take a pill (or remedy) to cover the symptom temporarily. I would like to find out where/who does someone go to that truly delves into seeing what is wrong with us. Especially since it seems to be something unknown by medical professionals.

      2. Vicky H

        Where do you find the pills

      3. Steven Scheuer

        Yellow mustard 2-3 tablespoons !! Relief completely in 5 minutes!! If you look at the sideline If NFL youlll see tables of mustard bottles

    2. MaryAnn Olleck

      My husband suffered greatly from horrible leg cramps, for years. Always at night when he was in bed. His doctor finally had him try Quinine. He takes a 300 mg capsule before bed. These have been a godsend for him. He rarely gets cramps now. And he doesn't need to take the pill all the time either. He just takes one if it's been an overly busy and hectic day. I recommend you ask your doctor about this. It has really helped my hubby. Good luck to you.

    3. Simone

      I have been getting them now. Was wondering if you excerise? Do you think it's lack of excerise?

    4. Deborah bailey

      Hi , the last two nights I have had chronic inner thigh cramp it was new to me I tend to get it in the ankle area. I'm starting to make note of what I ate. Believe it or not Bananas seem to bring it to me though supposed to do the opposite. Oh dear such badly disturbed sleep that was never good anyway.


    I too have been having these upper inner thigh cramps for years. What I have found to help is when it starts to happen, usually by moving wrong, I hobble to the kitchen and get the mustard and squirt some under my tongue. While I am waiting for that to take effect I tighten up the offending muscle. Usually 5 minutes is good. I begin to slowly loosen the muscle a little at a time. Finally I can move about normally. I usually don't have another one for the rest of that evening. The difficulty comes when you get cramps in both thighs. That's a little tougher to take care of, but it is doable. I think I may try that magnesium and the vinegar. Peaceful dreams folks.

    1. Renee

      Is it like a pulling stretching cramp
      Really strange feeling

  40. Dina

    A few swigs of pickle juice works for me.

    1. Tracia Schenberg

      Can u buy just Pickle juice?

  41. Marilyn

    It is somewhat soothing to know I’m not alone in suffering these horrible inner thigh cramps but I also get them in my legs, anklesFeet, toes, sometimes my hands/fingers cramp I can’t move them. What is going on?? I have had severe sciatic issues going on 4 years which is another bad case of pain to deal with.

    1. Jacob Zipperer

      Hi, Marilyn. We recommend discussing the symptoms you are experiencing with your doctor.

      If you have a Marshfield Clinic doctor, you can use My Marshfield Clinic to securely send and receive messages: https://www.marshfieldclinic.org/MyMarshfieldClinic

      If you do not have a doctor, you can find one here: https://www.marshfieldclinic.org/doctors

      I hope you are feeling better soon.

    2. Donna Thurman

      Mine are from the thighs down to my toes, in both legs, at the same time too. So excruciatingly painful, I get sick and pass out. They have gotten worse over the years. I wish someone would help us discover what this is caused by. So far, remedies have helped short term, before going right back to the horrible pain. I dread for evening to get here.

    3. Vicky

      Hi Marilyn, I have Lupus, and I used to get weird pains all over and my fingers would cramp up really weird too. Have you ever seen a rheumatologist? There are blood tests to see if you may have Lupus.

  42. Debbie

    Searching at 4am for an answer to what occurred tonight. Have had normal leg cramps over my lifetime. Inner thigh cramp for the first time so severe stepped into the bathroom with a sudden feeling all I could think of was 911. Never had this happen. Called for my husband next thing I remember was a lot of blood and face pain as I had passed out hit the side of tub and fallen to the floor with a gash to my nose.A lot of comments could explain. The pain so severe I passed out, I did a lot of yard work today and guilty of not drinking a lot of water so I am attributing all this and hope this never happens again. Will try the shot of brandy or the Apple cider for a quick relief.

    1. Mary L Kenan

      Hi im Mary and i had muscle cramps in the upper inner part of my thigh and it was no joke having it in both at one time my husband gave me 2 big tablespoons of mustard. But before i could take it i started feeling weak and nauseaed so i grabbed me a pillow and just laid on the cold hardwood floor and went to sleep til 3:30 this morning . Help!

      1. Jacob Zipperer

        Hello Mary,

        We strongly recommend contacting your doctor as soon as you can about the cramps you are experiencing. They are most aware of your medical history and past conditions, so they can best advise you.

        Thank you,

  43. Unity

    I suffer from S E V E R E Thigh cramps. Occasionally calf, hamstring, achilles / heel area, but primarily inner or top of thigh. Always random- no pattern. I just turned 50 and in good health.
    Salt water is what I’ve found to work almost instantly. Any kind of salt, (min 1 tsp ) any temperature water (min 4 oz) swirl & chug.

  44. Charlotte Chancey

    Try sitting in a tub of very hot water. This will usually relieve the pain in 3 to 5 minutes. I have
    These excruciating pains evey so often and finds this is the only thing that helps. Tried all home remedies.

    1. Clare Purvis

      I know exactly what your going through & how scary it is they are just so different from the normal cramp. I’ve nearly rang the Ambulance but you cannot move when you have an attack. I try & take magnesium especially when I’ve walked a fair bit or mowed the lawn. Yep so only us that have had these servers cramps actually understand.Good luck a pray you don’t get anymore.

      1. Deborah bailey

        Read your post. Last two nights, thigh cramp for the fitrst time. Wow really hard to get rid of in the moment . Right thigh first night left thigh second night, I had the same dinner both nights (Pork chops), I'm going to pay more attention to what I eat around the times of my (various leg/ankle cramps) but the thigh, wow they both feel bruised this morning.

  45. Tom

    For many years I too have experienced cramps on the medial (inner) side of my thigh that are as painful as others on this website have described. And EVERY time I get relief by making my way to the bathroom, standing over the toilet (I am male) and urinating. I have no idea why this works or why the there should be any association of this kind; I'd really like to know … Meanwhile, warming my thighs with a hot rice pad seems to help avoid these cramps; I suspect the heat dilates a blood vessel that might otherwise not remain suficiently open to allow oxygen to the cramping muscle. Finally, based upon the information provided by this website, I suspect my cramps might be attributed to the medicines that I have been taking for the past several years following a heart attack, including hydrochlorothiazide (a diuretic), carvedilol and lisinopril (for blood pressure), and semivastatin (for cholesterol).

    1. Jennifer Phillips

      Hmmm…this helps me too (sitting of course) if I can make it to the bathroom. Maybe a compressed nerve from a full bladder?

  46. Jason L.

    I have the inner leg cramps just as Judy was saying. I can not hardly stand the pain when they come on. It is in unbearable pain for 10 to 15 minute. Last year I had the cramp hit both legs at the same time. I had to just lay in the floor and cry from the pain. I will be trying the apple cider vinegar.

    1. Denise Tomasura

      I am trying it now. Thank you for your information.

    2. Marilyn

      Hi Jason, how much apple cider vinegar & do u mix it in something? I had 4 episodes of the inner thigh cramps last night. Just horrible earful pain. One episode so bad I was nauseated. I worked out side in the hot weather, was drinking but Obviously not enough. So so bad they were. Almost afraid to go to bed at night or fear of those again. Not had them that bad.

    3. Diane Terpot

      Be careful with apple cider vinegar..it can cause gastritis..
      Which is awful..

  47. Jessica Poisson

    I have been having severe cramping and twisting of muscles. The ONLY thing that works is Magnesium (there are many different kinds) The one that works is Magnesium with chloride/calcium. I have pain meds, strong muscle relaxers etc… Nothing works except for the above type of Magnesium and it is amazingly efficient. Works fast but one or two pills may not last me the whole day and never works two days in a row. I take it daily. I am not a doctor and I have a neurologist working on this. This may not be right for you. Please ask your doctor before using any remedies please.

  48. john

    Thankyou for sharing such a nice article and your knowledge with us.A leg cramp is an episode of sudden pain in the muscles of the leg caused by an involuntary contracting (shortening) of the leg muscle. Most leg cramps occur in the calf muscles and, less commonly, in the feet and thighs.After the cramps have passed, you may have pain and tenderness in your legs for several hours.

  49. Joe

    How about coconut water for cramps?

    1. Kirsten Shakal, Shine365 Editor

      Hey, Joe. I did some asking around our physical therapy and nutrition teams.

      One of our nutritionists said this is a popular question. "The underlying theme seems to be that because potassium, as an electrolyte, conducts electrical impulses necessary for nerve conduction, heart contraction and skeletal muscle flexibility, it would be involved in leg cramps. 1 cup of coconut water contains 600 mg potassium (RDA is 4700 mg/day or ~ 16%), so it’s being advertised as a sports drink to use during or (primarily) after workouts to replenish lost electrolytes from sweating. I would assume anyone with leg cramps would be looking for anything to try. The concept behind it makes sense."

      I also found an article on WebMD that may interest you: https://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/features/truth-about-coconut-water#1

      Hope that helps, and thank you for reading Shine365. -Kirstie

    2. Deborah bailey

      I would say useless, I recently found Thai coconut juice (cocomax) that I drank when in Thailand, loved it. So drank a couple of half liters each week over the last month or so and ate bananas! Had my first inner thigh cramp night before last, the other thigh got it last night. The PAIN! and hard to get out of still tender this morning.

  50. Ken Dumar

    I have suffered with terrible leg cramps for years. Always in the back of my legs, hamstring usually at night while at rest. Several times I have become faint because of the pain and sometimes actually fear going to bed . I have found a remedy that really works, produced by the Amish contains apple cider vinegar, ginger and garlic. Sold in health food stores or on line. Caleb Treeze Organic Farms, I keep a bottle next to the bed and anytime I travel it goes with me. While in pain I grab the bottle and take a good swig and within a minute the cramp in gone. Don't laugh it taste terrible but really works.

  51. Judy A. Marty

    I once in a while get Groin cramps== in my Right inner leg– above knee to Groin—-every couple of month"s—- no rime or reason— most of the time I go to bed at 10:30—- and from 12:00 to about 2:oo A.M. is when they come—the pain is horrible— most of the time walking them off dosn"t help. —- they cramp and lessen- and within 5 seconds cramp again— this goes on for anywhere from 3– 5 min—at times using a massager or Hot wash clothes takes them away faster. When I get them— my inner upper leg is sore for a day or two. I drink 30 to 60 oz. of water a day– take vinegar pills– have drank the vinigar-Honey and warm water.Every once in a while I do go 3 months– and occasionally I get them every couple of weeks— This has been going on for about 3 years now, 8 to 10 a year—- VERY–VERY PAINFUL !!! Any answers ??

    1. gene somers

      it has to do with changing the acidity of your system. i also think magnesium is present in apple cider vinegar

    2. gene somers

      judy, try the apple cider vinegar (one spoon) in a glass of water. i always get relief within 3 minutes

    3. Kirsten Shakal, Shine365 Editor

      Hi, Judy. We cannot provide individualized medical advice on this forum. Please discuss your groin cramps concerns with your primary care provider, who will refer you to a physical therapist if needed.

      If you have a Marshfield Clinic doctor, you can use My Marshfield Clinic to securely send and receive messages: https://www.marshfieldclinic.org/MyMarshfieldClinic

      If you do not have a doctor, you can find one here: https://www.marshfieldclinic.org/doctors

      I hope you are feeling better soon. -Kirstie

    4. Lori Rivas

      Don't know why this happen at intervals of every couple months for the most part , sometimes more often but they are excruciating. I have found magnesium drops found in health food stores work quickly so I keep them beside my bed. Charlie horse in the lower leg is welcome over inner thigh cramps they actually have made me pas out from the pain..

      1. Chris M.

        Lori – thanks for sharing. I also get inner thigh cramps so bad I have passed out from the pain. Do you know if these severe cramps can cause damage? Seems my legs are just more sensitive for months after having bad ones.

    5. Laurel Fry

      Judy P. I also get sever Groin left leg cramps, Mine are on the inner upper part of my left leg. They hurt so bad. I scream for God's help. The only thing that helps me is standing up on my other leg and keep trying to put some pressure on it. It takes about 15 minutes or better.I just had my Doctor do a vitamin blood test and it didn't come out very well I'm low in D, B12, and low in magnesium. They also have done a MRI on my back . Apparently I have several slip disks and I have spondylolisthesis at L4-5 with interval progression of canal and
      right foraminal stenosis since 2018.

      Mild progression of foraminal stenosis but interval resolution of right
      subarticular disc protrusion at L3-4. Otherwise essentially stable
      appearance of the lumbosacral spine.

      Anatomic Thoracic/Lumbar Variant: None. L4-5 is considered the level of
      the iliac crest and assume there are 5 lumbar-type vertebrae. They said this could be the cause I talk to the surgents Wednesday . Now do I want surgery? I am on Facebook if you want to talk. Laurel Ballou Fry God Bless Hope your Better

      1. Jacqueline w

        Thank you Lori. Every now and then (every few weeks) I get an excruciating pain in my inside thigh. I, too, cry out for God to take it away. It’s always upon waking. I’m been reading, and I think I have low magnesium. Im ready to see a dr. This pain, when it comes, makes me cry out!

    6. Tracey s

      Hi judy i have it in the exact same place i cry with the pain and my muscle is that sore afterwards i can hardly put weight on it, be interesting if anyone else has these pain renching cramps in the inner thigh found anything that actually helps

      1. Brian

        Hi I get these cramps excruciatingly painful allegedly caused by nerve problems. What does work for me pretty instantly is ice packs if I can make it to the freezer

    7. Deborah bailey

      Hi had my first two experiences of inner thigh cramp the last two nights. One leg then the other the next night. Quite scary as it was difficult to walk off due to the utter pain, Both thighs still tender this morning. I am going to start to take note of what I've been eating see if there is any link as I do get cramps in my ankles, foot and shin area from time to time.

  52. Nancy Hromek

    A quick shot of brandy does the trick !

  53. Nancy

    Thank you this was very helpful. I have been having leg cramps for several months. Not related to activity.

    1. Kirsten Shakal, Shine365 Editor

      I'm glad you found the article helpful, Nancy. Thank you for reading. -Kirstie

  54. Peggy V

    Why does the apple cider in water remedy work??

    1. Kirsten Shakal, Shine365 Editor

      Hi, Peggy. According to physical therapist, Candace, apple cider vinegar is very high in potassium and calcium, which some people are deficient in due to processed food intake. However, no reputable research has been done on apple cider vinegar ‘curing cramps.’ In reality, a more recognized solution is to avoid potassium and calcium deficiency by eating a healthy, balanced diet. -Kirstie

  55. gene somers

    regarding leg cramps, this stops them within 3 minutes……..one teaspoon of apple cider vinegar in a glass of water. just a few swallows does the trick.

    1. Roger Bailey

      Bananas and or tonic water work for me. stretching before and after physical exercise usually prevents cramps for me.

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