Origin and development of muscle cramps

Exerc Sport Sci Rev. 2013 Jan;41(1):3-10. doi: 10.1097/JES.0b013e3182724817.


Cramps are sudden, involuntary, painful muscle contractions. Their pathophysiology remains poorly understood. One hypothesis is that cramps result from changes in motor neuron excitability (central origin). Another hypothesis is that they result from spontaneous discharges of the motor nerves (peripheral origin). The central origin hypothesis has been supported by recent experimental findings, whose implications for understanding cramp contractions are discussed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Electromyography
  • Exercise / physiology
  • Humans
  • Motor Neurons / physiology
  • Muscle Cramp / etiology
  • Muscle Cramp / physiopathology*
  • Muscle, Skeletal / innervation
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiopathology
  • Nerve Block