What are the causes of persistent leg cramps?

Updated March 23, 2017

A leg cramp can occur for a variety of reasons, including failure to eat properly or because of a botched surgery that affects a person's leg muscle. If you dread regularly occurring leg cramps, a few easy changes in habits may prevent them.


Nutrition is vital to preventing muscle cramps. Persistent leg cramps plague people who experience calcium, potassium or magnesium insufficiencies. People who are victims of electrolyte imbalances also may suffer from leg cramps.

Intense Physical Activity

The Complete Guide to Sports Injuries states that inadequate preparation before engaging in intense physical activity, such as swimming or running, commonly causes leg cramps (See Reference 1).

Nerve Damage

Nerve damage resulting in persistent leg cramps may develop either because of complications, such as injury to a person's sciatic nerve, or as a side effect of a surgery. Other causes of nerve injury include alcoholism, chronic kidney disease and Burger's disease.

Poor Circulation

Impaired circulation of blood throughout a person's leg muscle may cause persistent leg cramps. It may also be a symptom of more severe disorders such as peripheral arterial disease (PAD).

Life's Passages

One thing that adolescent and elderly members of society share in common is leg cramps. Teens often experience these muscle spasms in relation to growing pains, while seniors may experience leg cramps as a result of weight-related causes or illness (See Reference 2).

Rare Causes

Rarely, metabolism hormones and medications have also been cited as contributors to persistent leg cramps.

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About the Author

James Withers has authored in excess of 200 articles on eHow, expanding on journalistic experience acquired as a commentator for the newspaper of the University of Texas at Arlington. Withers began publishing professionally in 2007. Withers holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Texas at Arlington.