a female runner on her back holding her thigh in pain from a leg cramp, leg cramp remedies

Q. My doctor prescribed quinine for my leg cramps. With all the controversy and severe reactions described online, not to mention the FDA position on it, I am reluctant to try it. I have been in dire straits for weeks and I don’t know what else to do.

I am already taking magnesium, vitamin B12, vitamin D3, fish oil and valerian root with no relief. I’m at the end of my rope, and doctors don’t seem to want to help with this. What do you suggest?

A. The FDA forbids the use of quinine for leg cramps because it can cause life-threatening reactions affecting the blood. As a result, doctors have little to offer people with painful leg cramps. Although sensitive people may suffer a reaction from drinking tonic water, that is one form in which quinine is still available.

Other readers have offered their own solutions, and we provide them in our Guide to Leg Pain. Some options to swallow include low-sodium V8 juice, yellow mustard or apple cider vinegar and honey in warm water. Stretching the muscles before bed can often help, and we have detailed instructions.

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  1. w harrington

    Apparently not. I have been reading the PP for a long time and the general opinion is that it is the NATURAL JUNIPER in the gin that is responsible. Gin with artificial juniper flavoring does not appear to provide the same effect. Since rum is not made with juniper it would seem you are out of luck.

  2. dorothy

    after taken 10-40 amploline benzpline for blood pressure my heart rate went up after 4 days on it my doctor took me off. now I get these jerks some trembling in my legs at night. could this be from the medication?

  3. Katie

    Hi Joe
    I am so sorry to hear that you are in constant pain. The carpal tunnel in your hands and elbows should be easily remedied by using special braces that relieve the pressure. Try taking mustard for your pain… it might help.
    I don’t recommend pain meds. You can’t stay on those forever and you don’t want to get addicted to them. There are many alternative remedies you can try. Curcumin in tablet form is an anti-inflammatory. That might help. I get muscle cramps from sitting too long on the couch. I also have a touch of osteoarthritis and I think that is causing some of my joint pain. I know how hard it is to live with constant pain. The chiropractor has helped me a lot over the years with my sciatic nerve pain in my back. Give that a try.
    Since I have bad varicose veins, my circulation in my legs is very poor. My ankles and feet swell up all the time. I have bought a circulation booster. You put your feet on the special pads and then turn on the current… It gives your legs a circulation boost. I usually keep it at level 23… it has levels up to 99. This device might help you too.
    I sincerely hope you receive relief from your pain… You can’t go through life in constant pain. Time usually heals some of our aches and pains. Be patient and maybe some issues will resolve themselves.

  4. Joe

    Hello Katie
    I could not have described it better. I can’t tell you how many times I almost went to the hospital with pain so severe! My feet hurt most of the time, I think I recently developed Mortons Neuroma in my left foot. After my last surgery I had to negotiate my pain management…. I asked for either pain meds or time off…. she didn’t want to give ether one. On top of all this I suffer with severe carpel tunnel in both hands and both elbows. I’m in pain all the time.
    thanks for listening, Joe

  5. FF

    Calcium, magnesium and boron, along with cod liver oil before bedtime really hit the spot. Then, take an Epsom salt bath and soak. It’s hard to believe that quinine will actually ‘heal’ the problem.

  6. V.L.

    Having had intermittent foot and toe cramps most of my life, I came across a brilliantly effective compound published by an MD whose life’s work is devoted to natural, non-toxic remedies. The compound has to be made up by a compounding pharmacy (which requires a physician’s prescription) so I told my doctor I wanted to try it out and asked him to make out the prescription for me. The prescription should read: “DMSO – Mg-CL2 – EMU 20 – 20 – 3%” (The active ingredients are a mix of DMSO, Magnesium Chloride and Emu Oil that a compounding pharmacy put into a neutral moisturizing lotion). Whenever I get cramp I apply the lotion on it and it works immediately. V.L.

  7. Lynda G.

    I have also used the bar of soap successfully for cramps at night anywhere on the back of my legs or my feet. But another thing that I found on People’s Pharmacy was GLYCERIN! Besides helping sore muscles and joint pain, it also kept me from getting leg cramps at night if I rubbed it on before going to bed. If I forgot and finally rubbed it on when I developed a cramp, it worked within minutes. If I need instant relief from a cramp, someone told me to bite my lip firmly, and I’ll be darned if it didn’t work instantly!

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