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Diagnosis and Differential Diagnosis of Muscle Cramps: A Clinical Approach

Jansen, Paul H. P. MD, PhD*; Gabreëls, Fons J. M. MD, PhD; van Engelen, Baziel G. M. MD, PhD

Section Editor(s): Bromberg, Mark B. MD

Journal of Clinical Neuromuscular Disease: December 2002 - Volume 4 - Issue 2 - p 89-94

Muscle cramps are one of the most frequently occurring neuromuscular features. They occur normally in healthy persons, can be the manifestation of one of several cramp syndromes, but can also be the expression of various underlying neuromuscular disorders. We review the various types and boundaries of cramps, ranging from true muscle cramps to electromyographic silent muscle contractures (for example, Brody's disease) and cramps associated with dystrophinopathies. In addition, we delineate true muscle cramp from muscle stiffness and muscle twitching. Finally, we propose a workup in a patient suspected of having muscle cramps.

Salt Lake City, UT

From the *Department of Neurology, Gelderse Valei Hospital, Ede; and the †Neuromuscular Centre Nijmegen, Institute of Neurology, University Medical Centre Nijmegen, The Netherlands.

Authors wishing to submit to this department should contact Dr. Bromberg at the following address: Department of Neurology, University of Utah, 50 North Medical Drive, P.O. Box 9180, Salt Lake City, UT 84132; tel, (801) 581-6873; fax, (801) 585-2054; emial,

Address reprint requests to Baziel G. M. van Engelen, MD, PhD, Neuromuscular Centre Nijmegen, Institute of Neurology, University Medical Centre, Nijmegen, P.O. Box 9101, 6500 HB Nijmegen, The Netherlands.

© 2002 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.