Medical Matters > Symptoms: Muscle Cramps

ME Essential Summer 2017


Muscle pain has always been a significant part of my ME/CFS. But I’ve now developed painful episodes of muscle cramp — especially at night. My GP has prescribed quinine —which has helped a bit. Is there anything else you can recommend that might help?


Leg cramps are quite commonly reported by people with ME/CFS and there are several approaches to management that are worth trying. Gentle exercises can be very helpful — if you can do them.

It's worth learning one of the stretching exercises that can help with prevention and if you are being woken by cramp in the middle of the night. Making sure you are not dehydrated is also important. A simple guide to hydration is the colour of your urine — which should be clear or a very pale yellow colour — dark yellow urine is a sign of dehydration.

Quinine tablets, which you have been prescribed, are certainly worth a try if all else fails. Quinine is a constituent of tonic water where the dose is obviously much smaller but quinine doesn't help everyone with cramp and it can produce side-effects, some of which overlap with ME/CFS symptoms (e.g., tinnitus, headaches and confusion) and could occur if you exceed the stated dose.

Muscle relaxant drugs, such as Baclofen, are also sometimes used for more severe cases of cramp or muscle spasm or muscular aches and pains. These are only available on prescription and they also have side-effects.

More information


Information provided by The ME Association should not be construed as medical advice. Don't assume any new or worsened symptoms are simply the result of having ME/CFS or Long Covid. We recommend that any information you deem relevant is discussed with your NHS GP as soon as possible. It is important that you seek personalised medical advice from the GP who is in charge of your care and who knows you well.

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