Prevalence of cramps in patients over the age of 60 in primary care : a cross sectional study

Hubert Maisonneuve, Juliette Chambe, Chloé Delacour, Joris Muller, Fabien Rougerie, Dagmar M Haller, Michel Leveque
BMC Family Practice 2016 August 12, 17 (1): 111

BACKGROUND: Cramps are involuntary painful muscle contractions that mainly affect older people. Cramps may cause severe pain and sleep disturbance. Little information exists on the prevalence and the main features of cramps in primary care settings. The objective of this study was to estimate the prevalence and the main features of cramps among primary care patients aged 60 years and older.

METHODS: We prospectively enrolled 516 patients aged 60 years and older in a cross-sectional study at 25 general practices in Alsace - France between October 2011 and March 2012. Questionnaires were used to obtain information about demographics, cramp presence and main features, medical history, and treatment.

RESULTS: The adjusted prevalence was 46 % (95 % CI: 38-53 %). Thirty-one per cent of the study sample reported being woken up by cramps, 15 % had cramps more than 3 times a month. Logistic regression revealed a slightly higher prevalence in the age group 65-69 years compared to 60-64 years. No significant association was observed between other age groups and prevalence, or between gender and prevalence. The main localization of cramps was in the calves (80 %). The duration since onset was 5 years or more for 58 %.

CONCLUSIONS: Cramps are common in primary care, and although only a minority of patients report suffering from cramps more than once a week, many patients report cramp-related sleep disturbance. Further studies are needed to assess risk factors and therapeutic options for patients suffering from cramps in primary care.

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