The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine

Patients Ask: Could Mucinex Be Used to Relieve Foot Cramps?

Posted by on Monday, October 1st, 2018


A reader of the Hanford Sentinel contacted the doctor worried about severe foot cramps from inhalers and nebulizers prescribed for COPD. “I noticed, however, that when I take Mucinex (guaifenesin), the foot cramps disappeared completely,” the reader explained, wondering if it was safe to continue using Mucinex for cramp treatment. This isn’t something we come across often at The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine, but any solution that may relieve foot cramps is worth exploring.

relieve foot cramps
Could your sinus medicine also be used to relieve foot cramps? [Image Source: Shutterstock]

What Causes Foot Cramps?

Foot cramps are a sudden tightening and twitching of a muscle. The main causes include dehydration, overly strenuous exercise, muscle fatigue, alcoholism, drug use, pregnancy, poor nutrition, diabetes, nerve damage, and poor circulation.

How Does Sinus Medication Affect Your Feet?

The FDA approved guaifenesin (with brand names like Robitussin and Mucinex) as an expectorant in 1952. This medication is intended to thin out mucus secretions in the sinus and chest, allowing it to leave the body easier. However, the fact that it blocks NMDA and glutamate receptors also makes it an effective muscle relaxant. One 2017 study of 77 patients with upper back, neck, and shoulder pain reported 25% improvement in muscle spasms with 1,200 mg of guaifenesin.

Check It Out: Easy Ways To Beat Winter Foot Cramps

Is Guaifenesin Safe to Use for Foot Cramps?

Side effects of guaifenesin may include headache, dizziness, drowsiness, and nausea. You can take the lowest dose possible to relieve foot cramps if you do not suffer these side effects. Patients with chronic respiratory conditions often take guaifenesin long-term. One of the most concerning risks is the development of kidney stones. You can reduce this risk by maintaining excellent hydration and increasing the pH of urine. Be sure to let your doctor know you are taking it and ask for his or her opinion at your next appointment.

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What Else Can I Try to Relieve Foot Cramps?

Foot cramping can be absolutely agonizing! Here are some things you can do:

  • In the immediate moment, put weight on the foot in pain and try to keep the foot flexed until the spasm passes.
  • Massage the aching muscle with ice.
  • A little while later, soak the foot in warm water or treat with a heating pad.
  • Take an over-the-counter NSAID.
  • Make sure you drink plenty of water throughout the day.
  • Ask your doctor about an alternative to the medication you’ve been prescribed.
  • Co-Q10 is a popular treatment that may not cure the cramps but can take the edge off in some cases.
  • Athletes have used yellow mustard to ward off cramping related to acetylcholine deficiency.
  • Some people swear by CBD oil, which may or may not be legal where you live.

Note: The FDA has recommended against using Quinine for muscle cramps.

Let Us Give Your Feet the Treatment They Deserve

In New York City, The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine specializes in any issue relating to the foot or ankle. If it’s medicine-related, you could seek help from your primary care doctor. But if you’re not getting the attention or answers you need, you can always come see us. Our board-certified podiatrists and sports medicine doctors will get to the root cause of your foot pain and help you treat the pain, rather than masking the symptoms. Sometimes the answer is easy. Other times, you need the services of an NYC podiatrist who cares. Contact us today.


If you have any foot problems or pain, contact The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports MedicineDr. Josef J. GeldwertDr. Katherine Lai, Dr. Ryan Minara and Dr. Mariola Rivera have helped thousands of people get back on their feet. Unfortunately, we cannot give diagnoses or treatment advice online. Please make an appointment to see us if you live in the NY metropolitan area or seek out a podiatrist in your area.