What are the Different Kinds of Cramps Treatments?

Anna T.

The different types of cramps treatments depend on the type of cramps a person is experiencing. Menstrual cramps, which typically occur every month during a woman's menstrual cycle, are often treated with heating pads or over-the-counter painkillers. Muscle cramps, which may occur as a result of exercise or randomly when a muscle involuntarily contracts, are usually treated with massage or topical analgesics. There are also some steps a person can take to reduce the likelihood that either muscle or menstrual cramps will occur.

A woman with menstrual cramps.
A woman with menstrual cramps.

In addition to heating pads and painkillers, some other cramps treatments that might be effective for menstrual cramps are exercise and relaxation techniques. Even though many women prefer to huddle up in bed when they are experiencing painful menstrual cramps, it is probably better if they get up and move around instead. Fast-paced exercise, such as aerobics, may cause the body to release natural endorphins, which can eliminate pain. If a woman simply cannot bring herself to exercise, she can try some deep-breathing relaxation techniques instead. This can help to take the mind's focus off the pain.

A massage can often help relieve muscle cramps.
A massage can often help relieve muscle cramps.

There are also many different cramps treatments for muscle cramps in addition to analgesics and massage. Just as heat is considered helpful for menstrual cramps, ice may be just as effective for muscle cramps. A person who has pulled a muscle, either randomly or through exercise, can apply an ice pack to the affected area for up to 10 minutes to help ease any swelling and pain. Following this up with massage may be extremely beneficial. It is important for a person using ice for treating a pulled muscle to keep in mind that the ice pack should be removed for a while after 10 minutes. This is because it is possible to get frostbite from prolonged direct exposure of ice on the skin.

Some people experience relief from cramps after applying a hot water bottle to the affected area.
Some people experience relief from cramps after applying a hot water bottle to the affected area.

Cramps treatments may not be necessary for people who take steps to avoid the onset of cramps. Women who experience menstrual cramps every month can cut back on how much salt and sugar they consume just before their periods to reduce the likelihood of cramps. Caffeine may also contribute to more painful menstrual cramping, so it may be a good idea for a woman to avoid this as well. If a person has a problem with frequent muscle cramps, he can make an effort to stay hydrated at all times, particularly before exercising. Drinks that contain electrolytes are typically considered better than water for the prevention of muscle cramps.

Menstrual cramps occur prior to or during a woman's menstrual cycle.
Menstrual cramps occur prior to or during a woman's menstrual cycle.
An ice pack, which can help with muscle cramps.
An ice pack, which can help with muscle cramps.
Painkillers might help with cramps.
Painkillers might help with cramps.
An electric heating pad may be used to relieve cramps.
An electric heating pad may be used to relieve cramps.

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Discussion Comments


From my experience, one of the common ways to get leg cramps is when you don't warm up before doing any kind of exercise. I learned this the hard way. I was just too lazy to warm up before starting exercise.

Your legs just aren't ready for stretching and other strenuous movement until they are warm.

If you do get a muscle cramp, I think the best muscle cramp treatment is to put ice on it and afterwards massage it. Also drinking water or Gatorade before, during and after exercise may also help avoid cramps.


When I was a teenager, I had bad cramps the first two days of my period. The doctor told me that the change in hormone levels were causing the cramping. Sometimes, I had to go home early from school. If over the counter painkillers didn't help, I took codeine (which I didn't like to do).

Lying down with a heating pad was the only thing that helped. I tried getting active many times, but just doubled over in pain.

Luckily, after the birth of my first baby, the cramps miraculously got much less severe.


I get menstrual cramps like clockwork, every month no matter what I am eating or drinking or how much I am eating or drinking. Though I wonder if they might get worse or better based on what I eat or drink...

But I never get that far because as soon as I feel the cramps coming on (they feel like slight lower back pain when they first start) I take over the counter pain relievers and after about four hours usually the cramp pain usually comes back through and after one more round of pain relievers they are gone.

It only happens the first day of my cycle luckily.

I would love to try to exercise more as a way to relieve the cramping as I try to take too much medicine, but the cramps always come at different times, and suddenly.


I always seem to get quite a few menstrual cramps every month. Some months are worse than others and I always have a bottle of Midol handy to help with my cramping.

If I am home, one thing that I have found that really helps is a castor oil hot pack. There is something therapeutic about the castor oil and heat that really helps with these cramps.

I have a piece of flannel material that I pour some castor oil on and heat up in the microwave until it is warm. This goes on my stomach with a towel over it while I take it easy and read a book or watch TV for 30 minutes or so.

I can feel the cramping beginning to subside within a few minutes and I will usually feel good for the rest of the day.


My husband used to get bad leg muscle cramps. He never knew what would bring these on and his legs would cramp for several minutes at a time.

He started taking a calcium supplement every day, and noticed that he didn't get the leg cramps any more. If he forgets to take the calcium for awhile, he starts getting the muscle cramps again.

This is pretty good motivation for him to take the calcium supplement on a regular basis.


When I was growing up I would wake up in the middle of the night with bad leg cramps. I would lay there for awhile hoping they would go away, but they just continued to hurt worse.

I never found out what caused my legs to cramp and hurt during the night. They never seemed to bother me when I was active and running around during the day.

It seems like the only thing that would really help is when my Mom would come in and massage my legs until I fell back asleep. That was the best treatment for leg cramps I could have asked for.

This is something I must have outgrew, because once I became an adult, I never had any problems with them.


@Kat919 - Something else you might try, especially if you get cranky along with your cramps, is eating a lot of whole grains. There was a new study that found that eating a lot of whole carbs right around that time of the month reduces menstrual symptoms.

That was the first piece of medical advice I'd read in a long time that I really *wanted* to follow! (I had a whole bag of Sun Chips in my cupboard, too!)

I had bad cramps as a teenager, too, that got better when I went on the pill in college. Over time, though, I found that my cramps were coming back. When I went off the pill to get pregnant, I was expected it to be a nightmare. But it wasn't! I had fewer cramps than when I was on the pill. There are a lot of steps women can take to manage their cycles without going on hormonal birth control, which just masks whatever is going on.


I had terrible menstrual cramps when I was a teenager, and nothing really seemed to work. I tried all different medications. Then, unconnected to the cramping, I took up jogging.

Naturally, I didn't feel like jogging when I had cramps and I took my usual course - curled up on the couch with a heating pad and a romantic comedy and tried not to move until it was over.

One month, though, the cramps were just getting started and it was such a beautiful day that I went out anyway. I wasn't able to make myself run as hard as usual, but I still got that beautiful endorphin flow. It helped more than any medicine I tried! I definitely felt better in the short term, and it seemed like the cramps weren't quite as bad that month in general. Now I always make sure to jog.

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