Frequently Asked Questions

Muscle cramps – is it low calcium?


Cramping During the First Week

Muscle cramping can be from low calcium, particularly if it is associated with the “classic” symptoms of numbness or tingling in the hands or face. In this case, it is happening within the first week of the operation and taking more calcium will help. If you are having prolonged muscle cramping or muscle spasms in your wrists or hands within the first week of surgery, you should take more calcium immediately and let your surgeon know, as this can be a sign of very low calcium.

More general muscle achiness is less likely to be due to low calcium if you aren’t also having symptoms of numbness and tingling. You should start taking a magnesium supplement if you are having cramps – this often helps even without taking more calcium. You can also try taking an extra 2 Citracal to see if that helps, but it may not, in which case you should not continue to take more calcium without speaking with your surgeon.

Muscle Cramps After the First Week

If you are having muscle cramps beyond the first week of surgery, we recommend starting a magnesium supplement, in addition to your calcium and Vitamin D. Magnesium is very important for calcium metabolism, and helps with postop symptoms. For muscle cramps, we recommend magnesium malate. Adults should get about 400 mg a day of magnesium.

If you are requiring lots of calcium postoperatively, we recommend taking at least 400 mg of magnesium per day, and up to 800 mg a day while you are needing the higher doses of calcium. It is also important to stay well hydrated for the first week or two after parathyroid surgery.