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Leg Cramps — TheFamily Health Guide

Leg Cramps

While it lasts, the pain from a leg cramp can be excruciating. Usually it goes away within a few minutes, though bad ones can cause lingering soreness. Typically, leg cramps affect the muscles in the calf (the large one is called the gastrocnemius) or along the sole of the foot.

The best immediate response is gently stretching the taut muscles. With the calf muscles, you can do that by grasping your toes and then slowly pulling your foot toward you. Leaning forward against a wall while keeping your heels on the ground does the same thing. Just standing up and putting weight on the affected leg may help, though you should be careful about falling: Get some help if someone is there to assist you. Heat (from a heating pad or warm - not hot - water) or massaging of the leg and foot can also help muscles relax, although it's best to try stretching first.

The pain of strains, sprains, and cramps

Do not let these common injuries stop your active lifestyle. Follow these steps to treat and prevent them.


 Image: Bigstock

An active life is a healthy one. Yet you might overdo it and injure a muscle, tendon, or ligament. "Strains, sprains, and cramps are common among older men and can limit their participation in their favorite sport or exercise," says Dr. Adam Tenforde, assistant professor in physical medicine and rehabilitation at Harvard Medical School.

Fortunately, these injuries often respond well to treatment, so you can get back in action. Of course, if any injury is too painful or does not heal over an appropriate period, you should seek medical advice. But many times, you can manage these issues on your own.

When chest pain strikes: What to expect at the emergency room

Here's a rundown of the likely chain of events after you call 911.


For a suspected heart attack, paramedics can often perform initial testing in the ambulance while the patient is en route to the hospital. Image: Thinkstock

Every 43 seconds, someone in the United States has a heart attack. If one day that someone is you or a loved one, it may be helpful to know what's likely to happen, both en route to the hospital and after you arrive.

What to do when reading gets harder

Treating underlying conditions and using helpful strategies may be all it takes to get you back on track.

Reading for pleasure is one of life's great gifts. It's an escape to another world or a path to increased knowledge. Plus, reading about a subject that's new to you challenges the brain, which may help create new brain cell connections. But many aspects of health can affect our ability to read in older age.

Physical changes

Chronic disease and age-related changes can have a big effect on your ability to read. Consider these factors:

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