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Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews

Quinine for muscle cramps

Overview of attention for article published in Cochrane database of systematic reviews, April 2015
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About this Attention Score

  • In the top 25% of all research outputs scored by Altmetric
  • High Attention Score compared to outputs of the same age (91st percentile)
  • Above-average Attention Score compared to outputs of the same age and source (63rd percentile)

Mentioned by

1 news outlet
9 tweeters
1 Facebook page
1 Wikipedia page


54 Dimensions

Readers on

197 Mendeley
Quinine for muscle cramps
Published in
Cochrane database of systematic reviews, April 2015
DOI 10.1002/14651858.cd005044.pub3
Pubmed ID

Sherif El-Tawil, Tarique Al Musa, Haseeb Valli, Michael PT Lunn, Ruth Brassington, Tariq El-Tawil, Markus Weber


Muscle cramps can occur anywhere and for many reasons. Quinine has been used to treat cramps of all causes. However, controversy continues about its efficacy and safety. This review was first published in 2010 and searches were updated in 2014. To assess the efficacy and safety of quinine-based agents in treating muscle cramps. On 27 October 2014 we searched the Cochrane Neuromuscular Disease Group Specialized Register, CENTRAL, MEDLINE and EMBASE. We searched reference lists of articles up to 2014. We also searched for ongoing trials in November 2014. Randomised controlled trials of people of all ages with muscle cramps in any location and of any cause, treated with quinine or its derivatives. Three review authors independently selected trials for inclusion, assessed risk of bias and extracted data. We contacted study authors for additional information. For comparisons including more than one trial, we assessed the quality of the evidence using Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development and Evaluation (GRADE). We identified 23 trials with a total of 1586 participants. Fifty-eight per cent of these participants were from five unpublished studies. Quinine was compared to placebo (20 trials, n = 1140), vitamin E (four trials, n = 543), a quinine-vitamin E combination (three trials, n = 510), a quinine-theophylline combination (one trial, n = 77), and xylocaine injections into the gastrocnemius muscle (one trial, n = 24). The most commonly used quinine dosage was 300 mg/day (range 200 to 500 mg). We found no new trials for inclusion when searches were updated in 2014.The risk of bias in the trials varied considerably. All 23 trials claimed to be randomised, but only a minority described randomisation and allocation concealment adequately.Compared to placebo, quinine significantly reduced cramp number over two weeks by 28%, cramp intensity by 10%, and cramp days by 20%. Cramp duration was not significantly affected.A significantly greater number of people suffered minor adverse events on quinine than placebo (risk difference (RD) 3%, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0% to 6%), mainly gastrointestinal symptoms. Overdoses of quinine have been reported elsewhere to cause potentially fatal adverse effects, but in the included trials there was no significant difference in major adverse events compared with placebo (RD 0%, 95% CI -1% to 2%). One participant suffered from thrombocytopenia (0.12% risk) on quinine.A quinine-vitamin E combination, vitamin E alone, and xylocaine injections into gastrocnemius were not significantly different to quinine across all outcomes, including adverse effects. Based on a single trial comparison, quinine alone was significantly less effective than a quinine-theophylline combination but with no significant differences in adverse events. There is low quality evidence that quinine (200 mg to 500 mg daily) significantly reduces cramp number and cramp days and moderate quality evidence that quinine reduces cramp intensity. There is moderate quality evidence that with use up to 60 days, the incidence of serious adverse events is not significantly greater than for placebo in the identified trials, but because serious adverse events can be rarely fatal, in some countries prescription of quinine is severely restricted.Evidence from single trials suggests that theophylline combined with quinine improves cramps more than quinine alone, and the effects of xylocaine injections into gastrocnemius are not significantly different to quinine across all outcomes. Low or moderate quality evidence shows no significant difference between quinine and vitamin E or quinine and quinine-vitamin E mixture. Further research into these alternatives, as well other pharmacological and non-pharmacological treatments, is thus warranted.There is no evidence to judge optimal dosage or duration of quinine treatment. Further studies using different dosages and measurement of serum quinine levels will allow a therapeutic range to be defined for muscle cramp. Because serious adverse events are not common, large population studies are required to more accurately inform incidence. Longer lengths of follow-up in future trials will help determine the duration of action following cessation of quinine as well as long-term adverse events. The search for new therapies, pharmacological and nonpharmacological, should continue and further trials should compare vitamin E, quinine-vitamin E combination, and quinine-theophylline mixture with quinine.

Twitter Demographics

The data shown below were collected from the profiles of 9 tweeters who shared this research output. Click here to find out more about how the information was compiled.

Mendeley readers

The data shown below were compiled from readership statistics for 197 Mendeley readers of this research output. Click here to see the associated Mendeley record.

Geographical breakdown

Country Count As %
Germany 1 <1%
Norway 1 <1%
Brazil 1 <1%
India 1 <1%
Canada 1 <1%
Unknown 192 97%

Demographic breakdown

Readers by professional status Count As %
Student > Bachelor 35 18%
Student > Master 26 13%
Researcher 19 10%
Student > Ph. D. Student 18 9%
Other 14 7%
Other 46 23%
Unknown 39 20%
Readers by discipline Count As %
Medicine and Dentistry 71 36%
Nursing and Health Professions 20 10%
Pharmacology, Toxicology and Pharmaceutical Science 13 7%
Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology 10 5%
Psychology 8 4%
Other 30 15%
Unknown 45 23%

Attention Score in Context

This research output has an Altmetric Attention Score of 19. This is our high-level measure of the quality and quantity of online attention that it has received. This Attention Score, as well as the ranking and number of research outputs shown below, was calculated when the research output was last mentioned on 25 June 2022.
All research outputs
of 21,440,657 outputs
Outputs from Cochrane database of systematic reviews
of 12,051 outputs
Outputs of similar age
of 241,582 outputs
Outputs of similar age from Cochrane database of systematic reviews
of 234 outputs
Altmetric has tracked 21,440,657 research outputs across all sources so far. Compared to these this one has done particularly well and is in the 92nd percentile: it's in the top 10% of all research outputs ever tracked by Altmetric.
So far Altmetric has tracked 12,051 research outputs from this source. They typically receive a lot more attention than average, with a mean Attention Score of 29.2. This one has gotten more attention than average, scoring higher than 70% of its peers.
Older research outputs will score higher simply because they've had more time to accumulate mentions. To account for age we can compare this Altmetric Attention Score to the 241,582 tracked outputs that were published within six weeks on either side of this one in any source. This one has done particularly well, scoring higher than 91% of its contemporaries.
We're also able to compare this research output to 234 others from the same source and published within six weeks on either side of this one. This one has gotten more attention than average, scoring higher than 63% of its contemporaries.