Peter Hibberd, M.D., is a doctor whose advice is based on more than 28 years of hospital outpatient and inpatient experience. He is an experienced emergency medicine physician, surgeon, and consultant. Dr. Hibberd is certified by the American Board of Emergency Medicine. He is also a fellow and active member of the American Academy of Family Physicians, an active member of the American College of Emergency Physicians, and a member and fellow of the American Academy of Emergency Medicine. Dr. Hibberd has earned numerous national and international professional certifications, memberships, and awards.
Tags: leg | cramps | danger | quinine

Why Are My Legs Always Cramping?

Friday, 06 Sep 2013 04:01 PM

By Peter Hibberd, M.D.

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Question: I get cramps in the back of my legs when I exercise, even when I warm up before walking or running. I saw a TV story that said when humidity is high, and you use fans in a closed room, you can become dehydrated and this can cause cramps. Could that be the reason?

Dr. Hibberd's answer:
 
Leg cramps may occur from dehydration, but the fluid losses from fan use in an adult are not nearly as significant as some media reports have suggested. This is not going to be the reason for your leg cramps.
 
Your symptoms are the prime reason that quinine was removed from the over-the-counter market for use in treating leg cramps (in addition to treating malaria and other conditions). Leg cramps may be the first sign of impaired circulation and conditions that may be a serious, even deadly threat to your cardiovascular health.
 
Be sure to see your doctor without delay for a checkup, stop smoking (if you do) and avoid doing anything that seems to cause the cramping.
 
Failure to follow this advice has left many people on dialysis, sometimes with limb loss, as a result of untreated complications of underlying conditions such as diabetes or vascular diseases. This is not to say all causes of leg cramps are serious, but you owe it to yourself to know the cause of your condition. Do not settle for less.

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Dr. Hibberd's advice is based on more than 28 years of hospital work in emergency medicine and surgery.
 
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