Prevalence and Morbidity Associated with Muscle Cramps in Patients with Cirrhosis

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24 Scopus citations


Purpose: Patients with cirrhosis often experience muscle cramps with varying severity. We investigated the factors associated with the prevalence and morbidity associated with muscle cramps. Methods: A total of 150 adult patients with cirrhosis were enrolled consecutively. Cramp questionnaire with visual analogue scale for pain, Chronic Liver Disease Questionnaire (CLDQ), and blood for measurement of 25-(OH) vitamin D levels were obtained after informed consent. Results: A total of 101 patients (67%) reported muscle cramps in the preceding 3 months. Patients with cramps had significantly lower serum albumin (3.1 ± 0.6 g/dL vs 3.3 ± 0.7 g/dL, P =.04) and CLDQ scores (107 ± 37 vs 137 ± 34, P <.0001) compared with those without cramps. The median composite symptom score, defined as product of frequency and severity of cramps, in the study cohort was 12 with a range of 0.3 to 200. There were no clinical or biochemical predictors for occurrence of any cramps or severe cramps (composite symptom score > 12). Muscle cramps (P <.001) and hepatic encephalopathy (P =.009) were associated independently with decreased CLDQ scores. Vitamin D deficiency was seen in 66% of the study cohort, but the serum 25-(OH) vitamin D levels were not significantly different between patients with and without cramps (18.0 ± 8.9 ng/mL vs 19.6 ± 9.5 ng/mL, P =.49). Conclusions: Muscle cramps are associated with significantly diminished quality of life in patients with cirrhosis. More research is needed to better understand their mechanism to develop effective treatment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1019-1025
Number of pages7
JournalAmerican Journal of Medicine
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 1 2012


  • Chronic liver disease questionnaire
  • Cirrhosis
  • Muscle cramps

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)

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