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Nocturnal leg cramps in older people
  1. J V Butler,
  2. E C Mulkerrin,
  3. S T O’Keeffe
  1. Department of Medicine for the Elderly, University College Hospital and Merlin Park Hospital, Galway, Ireland
  1. Correspondence to:
 Dr O’Keeffe, Unit 4, Merlin Park Regional Hospital, Galway, Ireland;


Nocturnal leg cramps are common in older people. Such cramps are associated with many common diseases and medications. Physiological methods may be useful for preventing cramps in some people, but there have been no controlled trials of these approaches. Quinine is moderately effective in preventing nocturnal leg cramps. However, there are concerns about the risk/benefit ratio with this drug. In patients with severe symptoms, a trial of 4–6 weeks’ treatment with quinine is probably still justified, but the efficacy of treatment should be monitored, for example using a sleep and cramp diary.

  • muscle disease
  • leg cramps
  • quinine
  • older people

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