Q. My mother suffers a lot with cramps, not only in her legs. She had been on quinine but now her doctors won’t prescribe it and she has nothing to help with her daily pain.

The doctors don’t really seem to know what to do to help her with this and she is willing to try anything. What do you recommend?

A. Her doctors should review her medications to determine if any of her drugs may be contributing to her cramps. Some people report this problem is more common when they take cholesterol-lowering medicines or certain asthma drugs.

We often encourage people to get plenty of potassium and magnesium. One surprising remedy for muscle cramps is a spoonful of yellow mustard. Another is soap under the bottom sheet. It sounds very odd, but many readers find it helpful.

We have collected a range of remedies for muscle cramps and restless leg syndrome in our Guide to Leg Pain.

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  1. Dennis
    Newberg, OR

    Leg/foot cramps? Yellow mustard worked for me!

  2. jay

    somebody please help
    my mom had very very very leg pain at sleep
    she shouted so much doctor said that all reports r normal. refer to psychiatrist. but not any benefit.
    due to pain she could not able to sleep and cry always. what to do? please suggest.

  3. Zeljko

    If you suffer from chronically tight muscles or periodic muscle cramps in your hands, legs or feet – magnesium lotion might offer a simple solution.
    I suffer from severe leg cramping (mostly quads) during nordic skiing and cycling competition and experience less severe cramping in training. I feel that I get plenty of sodium, take Potassium /Magnesium supplement and pound fluids (but not sure if I am retaining what I need)

  4. Dave M.

    I have a scientific background and generally ignore most home remedies that lack any scientific basis for the claims. Having said this, here is one that works (for me and everyone I know who has tried it) and I have no clue why it works.
    When you have a CRAMP, immediately pinch the area between your nose and upper lip – HARD. Keep pinching (even if it hurts a bit) until your cramp goes away. In my experience this usually takes less than a minute – sometimes only a few seconds – no matter how bad the cramp or where the cramp starts. Definitely works well on leg cramps.
    My wife once helped a surfer (a stranger) who was in extreme pain from leg cramps, by telling him to do this. When he finally did it and the cramp went away quickly, he asked if she was a witch. Many of my relatives and friends swear by this, so I was surprised not to see it in your home remedies.
    Please try it and let me know your results. I would love to know if there is any scientific basis for this, or perhaps some parallel in acupuncture (which is another thing I have a hard time understanding or “believing” in terms of science).

  5. J T Mac

    I have had occasional leg cramps while taking Zetia and I quit for a while. I had been exercising, and my doctor told me to start again with Zetia. I woke at 1 o’clock this morning with cramps so painful that I could not stand up. The worst pain was in my inside thigh on the left side. I never had cramps in that location before. Even as an athlete I had a few cramps, usually in the calves. I could stand up and get rid of those. Tonight’s lasted about five minutes, and I could not stand, lie down, do anything. I’m quitting Zetia, and the Statins don’t work for me, either.
    I think it is time for proper diet and regular exercise. Medication is not a cure-all.
    JT in California

  6. bls

    My doctor started me on Zetia since I was having leg pain with Lipitor. After taking Zetia for approximately six months, I now have leg cramps at night and my leg muscles twitch even during the day when I just sit and relax. Can Zetia be the cause of all of this? I didn’t have leg cramps nor twitching in my legs before I started taking Zetia.

  7. wayne

    I have been taking simvastatin for several years. Lately I have been getting cramps in my legs and hands. I was wondering if that was causing the problem?

  8. Ronald

    I’ve tried practically everything, including soap, mustard, etc., but the only thing that consistently works for me, besides quinine, is pickle juice. I drink 2 tablespoons before bed. I’ve used this remedy for approximately 3 months & have had cramps only 1 night.

  9. MMT

    I took lovastatin for 6 months. During the last several months, leg and then hand cramps increased in frequency and severity. After stopping lovastatin, it took a week or two for all cramps to stop. Just where should the soap be placed under the sheet?

  10. JoElla

    I have found that OTC CQ10 helps the side effects of statins.

  11. Bob Puckett

    I have celiac disease, and cramps, probably due to the fact that improper absorption of calcium, magnesium and potassium were a huge problem before I was diagnosed. However, I heard that quinine would help, and have kept a bottle of tonic water by the bed since then. It is fairly fast-acting and has helped with some real screamers. Mustard is also useful in emergencies, as you can get it almost anywhere. Thanks for all you do.

  12. Rob

    My parents used to keep a small container of salt by each side of their bed. Apparently a tiny amount on the tongue would instantly stop a cramp!

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