A muscle cramp, sometimes called a 'charley horse,' is a sudden spasm (SPAZZ-um) and pain in one or more muscles, often in the calf or thigh. It can be caused if a muscle is overworked, or it may happen spontaneously during sleep. It can also be caused by injury or exposure to cold or dampness. If a child has a cramp, help to gently stretch out the muscle and apply firm pressure to the affected area with your hands until the cramp is relieved. Massage the muscle for several minutes. The cramp may worsen with tension or movement, so try to relax the affected area. Follow the massage with a warm bath, a warm wet compress, hot-water bottle wrapped in a cloth, or a heating pad. Have the child rest the affected part so as not to strain it again. In severe cases, discomfort may last several days or longer. Seek medical aid if the cramp persists or recurs.
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