bars of soap

Q. I am prone to very painful hand and finger cramps. When they strike, I massage them or run hot and cold water over the hands, but nothing works except time.

Today my left hand was in terrible pain that wouldn’t cease. I went to the Internet and looked up Home Remedies for Hand Cramps. I saw the suggestion on your website about holding a bar of soap and immediately opened a new bar. When I held it in my aching hand, POOF — the pain went away within seconds. It seemed like a miracle.

A. The idea of holding a bar of soap to overcome hand cramps grew out of the practice of preventing nighttime leg cramps with a bar of soap under the bottom sheet. Another reader reports:

“We swear by the soap in the bed, and have had no problem with leg cramps in years. A few days ago the fingers in both hands cramped up. I thought of the soap, held it in my hands and the cramps went away like magic.”

We don’t know why this remedy seems to work, but many people have had success with it. Some scientists insist that it is the placebo effect. Regardless of the mechanism of action, holding a bar of soap seems like an inexpensive, low-risk solution to a painful problem.

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  1. Kotch

    All you need to do for trigger finger is see a good hand doctor. Usually a couple of injections will stop it. I had one on each hand. If not, it takes about a 15 minute surgery to relieve the tendon.

  2. DWD

    Perhaps it is time for a fresh bar? It will dry out and not give off any of the needed vapors – just an opinion no personal proof of this.

  3. mtm

    Have used the soap in the bed forever….. however recently it is not working….. any other suggestions???

  4. SGK

    Re Nanny’s comment about finger locking: I have what is called “trigger finger” on both hands: left middle finger and rt index finger–fingers lock at middle joint and are sometimes VERY painful. Is that connected to osteoarthritis, which I also have and which makes my hands stiff and painful?

  5. Nanny

    Soap under sheet has stopped my leg cramps; Left hand with pains and cramps better sleeping with soap in sock on hand!
    Arthritis cramping my right hand; extreme pain and one finger locks in bend. Tried the soap; WD-40; sage tea and nothing helps constant pain. Have had two minor strokes and on blood thinner – cannot use Advil type products. Any other suggestions to try?

  6. DWD

    It may sound crazy, but why not try modifying the first poster’s advice and make a sachet of soap chips and pin it to your under garments near your abdomen? If it works for hands and feet and joints for getting up then why not get it closer to the tummy for menstrual cramps. Lavender soap or other nicely scented soap perhaps?
    The soap worked for my feet, but this year the cramps in my foot came back and also started in the calf. I added 250 mg of Magnesium and that has stopped those cramps. Since menstrual periods do involve loss of blood, it could be taking magnesium levels down as well. Magnesium is an otc item, but if you feel unsure, discuss with your doctor first.
    Best wishes.

  7. jjo

    I read the post about relieving leg and hand cramps with the use of hand soap. Would this possibly work for menstrual cramps, as well? jjo

  8. Cindy B.

    My elderly parent told me that putting some soap chips in socks and laying them alongside her in her chair makes it easier for her to get out of the chair later.

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