What is the diagnostic approach to a patient with leg cramps?
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Leg cramps are very common (strength of recommendation [SOR]: C, case series), and most cases have no detectable cause (SOR: C, expert opinion). Arterial vascular disease and neurological diseases are more prevalent among male patients with leg cramps (SOR: C, small case series). History and physical should focus on detecting precipitating factors for iron deficiency anemia (gastrointestinal bleeding, frequent blood donations, menorrhagia), electrolyte imbalance (renal disease, fluid losses), endocrine disorders (thyroid, Addison's disease), neuromuscular disorders (neuropathies and myopathies), and medication use (antidepressants and diuretics). Laboratory testing is guided by the history and physical and may include ferritin, electrolytes, blood sugar, magnesium, zinc, creatinine, blood urea nitrogen, liver function test, and thyroid-stimulating hormone (SOR: C, expert opinion and nonsystematic review).
Journal of Family Practice, 54(9) 2005: 817-818.