Massage, a bath with Epsom salts, or a heating pad can relax the muscle. To fight pain, use an ice pack or take an over-the-counter medication like ibuprofen or naproxen. In most cases, the charley horse will stop within a few minutes. But if you get them often and for no clear reason, tell your doctor.
How long does a charley horse last?
Severe charley horses can result in muscle soreness that lasts anywhere from a few hours to a day. This is normal, so long as the pain isn’t prolonged or recurring. Charley horses are generally treatable at home, especially if they’re infrequent.
Why do charley horses happen?
Overuse of a muscle, dehydration, muscle strain or simply holding a position for a prolonged period can cause a muscle cramp. In many cases, however, the cause isn’t known. Although most muscle cramps are harmless, some may be related to an underlying medical condition, such as: Inadequate blood supply.
Should you rub a charley horse?
Poor diet, dehydration, and use of medications such as diuretics can all be associated with mineral depletion. A charley horse will usually go away after a few hours or days. However, gentle massage or holding the muscle in a stretched position will help resolve the cramp more quickly.
What is the quickest way to get rid of a leg cramp?
However, there are eight steps to take to possibly get rid of a leg cramp:
- Stretch. Straighten your leg and then flex it, pulling your toes towards your shin to stretch the muscles.
- Massage. Use your hands or a roller to massage the muscles.
- Stand. Get up.
- Apply heat.
- Apply cold.
- Pain killers.
Why are charley horses so painful?
The extreme pain comes from the continued contraction. “The contraction goes beyond what you want to do,” said Porter. “The muscle fatigues, it starts hurting, you say, ‘all right stop,’ but it’s doing it on its own — it’s not your idea, it’s an involuntary action.”
Do bananas help charley horses?
You probably know that bananas are a good source of potassium. But they’ll also give you magnesium and calcium. That’s three out of four nutrients you need to ease muscle cramps tucked under that yellow peel. No wonder bananas are a popular, quick choice for cramp relief.
How do you stop Charlie horses while sleeping?
Nocturnal Leg Cramp Prevention
- Stretch during the day and before bed. Focus on your calf and foot muscles.
- Drink plenty of water.
- Move around during the day to exercise your feet and legs.
- Wear comfortable, supportive shoes.
- Sleep under loose covers, especially if you sleep on your back.
What foods trigger leg cramps?
WHAT FOODS CAN CAUSE MUSCLE CRAMPS?
- Refined carbs like white bread are devoid of nutrients.
- Excessive red meat consumption is bad due to nitrates.
- Fast food is full of trans fats.
- Foods with refined sugar such as packaged muffins are full of artificial ingredients.
- Salty foods can wreak havoc on the body.
How do you stop a Charlie horse at night?
7 Ways to Relieve and Prevent Leg Cramps at Night
- Stretch your hamstring and calf muscles during the day and before you go to bed.
- Drink plenty of water throughout the day and watch your alcohol and caffeine consumption.
- Try mild exercises before bed, such as walking or riding the stationary bike for a few minutes.
What’s the difference between a Charlie horse and a cramp?
A sustained muscle spasm is called a muscle cramp. Leg muscles, especially the quadriceps (thigh), hamstrings (back of thigh), and gastrocnemius (calves), are most likely to cramp, but any skeletal muscle in the body can cramp. A “charley horse” is another name for a muscle cramp.
What deficiency causes Charlie horses?
A mineral deficiency or an imbalance of electrolytes such as magnesium, potassium, calcium, and sodium is also likely to increase one’s odds of getting a charley horse. Electrolytes are certain minerals that play an important role in muscle function.
Does salt help with charley horses?
Another way to relieve a Charley horse is to take an Epsom salt bath. For the best results, relax your whole body with a 20- to 30-minute soak. Ambient lighting and peaceful music also add to the experience.
How do I make my cramps stop?
Here are a some things that can help ease cramps:
- Over-the-counter pain medicine like ibuprofen (Advil), naproxen (Aleve), or acetaminophen (Tylenol).
- Putting a heating pad on your belly or lower back.
- Taking a hot bath.
- Having an orgasm (by yourself or with a partner).
Does pickle juice help cramps?
The same set of researchers also did a test on pickle juice for cramps earlier in 2010. They found that it did work to shorten cramp duration. On average, it relieved cramps in about 1.5 minutes, and 45 percent faster than when nothing was taken after exercise.
How long do cramps last?
Cramps usually begin a day or two before your period, peaking around 24 hours after your period starts. They typically last for two to three days. Menstrual cramps can be accompanied by other symptoms, including: nausea.
Charley Horse: Causes, Risks, and Treatments
We feature goods that we believe will be of interest to our readers. If you make a purchase after clicking on one of the links on this page, we may receive a small commission. Here’s how we went about it. What is a charley horse and how does it work? Amuscle spasm is referred to as “charley horse” in some circles. Charlie horses may affect any muscle, although they are most commonly found in the legs and thighs. These spasms are characterized by uncomfortably tight muscular contractions in the affected area.
When charley horses are severe, they can cause muscular discomfort that can last anywhere from a few hours to a day.
Charley horses are often curable at home, especially if they occur on a regular basis and are mild.
Your doctor can assist you in determining the source of your recurring charley horses.
Cramping or spasming of a muscle can be caused by a variety of circumstances.
- Exercising in extreme heat or cold, overusing a specific muscle during exercise, and tension (which is most commonly felt in the neck muscles) are all possible causes of muscle injuries. not warming up before a workout session
- Using diuretics, which can cause low potassium levels
- Mineral depletion, or having too little calcium, potassium, and sodium in the blood
- Nerve compression in the spine
Numerous people report having charley horses during their sleeping hours and being roused as a result of them. Muscle spasms that create charley horses as you sleep are a typical occurrence in the population. However, the exact reason for the occurrence of these evening spams is still a mystery. It is considered that laying in an uncomfortable position in bed for an extended period of time contributes to this condition. Muscle spasms can occur at any age and in any situation. As well as occurring at any time of day or night, a charley horse can occur at any location.
- Athletes, newborns, elderly persons, those who are obese, people who are taking certain medications such as diuretics, raloxifene (Evista), orstatin treatments, and people who smoke are just a few examples of who should avoid smoking.
Because of poor circulation in their legs, people who are fat are more prone to develop charley horses than other people. Athletesoften suffers from charley horses as a result of muscular exhaustion or excessive usage. The occurrence of the odd charley horse does not necessitate a formal medical diagnosis. Your doctor, on the other hand, should look into the frequency and recurrence of muscular spasms. This would apply if a charley horse appeared more than once a week without a satisfactory explanation for the occurrences.
- In order to determine whether nerve compression is the source of repeated charley horses, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans may be performed.
- It may also be necessary to do laboratory tests to rule out the presence of low potassium, calcium, or magnesium levels.
- The therapy for charley horses is determined on the underlying cause of the problem.
- Heating pads can assist to speed up the process of relaxing, while an ice pack can aid to dull the discomfort.
- A more forceful approach is required for recurrent charley horses.
- In extreme circumstances, your doctor may prescribe an antispasmodic medicine to alleviate the symptoms.
- In extreme circumstances, your doctor may recommend that you have surgery performed.
- If your spasms are caused by nerve compression, this may be of assistance.
- In order to ease the discomfort associated with a charley horse, you can apply pressure to the region of the cramp with your hands during the procedure.
You may also try applying pressure to the spot of the cramp with both of your thumbs, gradually increasing the pressure until the pain subsides. If you have a charley horse in your leg, you can try the following stretches to see if they help to alleviate the discomfort:
- Standing up and lunging forward on the front leg of the leg that is not experiencing muscular cramping
- Straightening the back of the leg that is experiencing the cramp and lunging forward on the rear leg of the leg that is experiencing the cramp
Standing up and lunging forward on the front leg of the leg that isn’t experiencing muscular cramping; straightening the back of the leg that is experiencing the cramp and lunging forward on the rear leg of the leg that is experiencing the cramp
- Standing up and lunging forward on the front leg of the leg that isn’t suffering muscular cramping
- Straightening the back of the leg that is feeling the cramp and lunging forward on the rear leg of the leg that is experiencing the cramp
Standing up and lunging forward with the leg that isn’t suffering muscular cramping; straightening the rear of the leg that is feeling the cramp and lunging forward with the front leg;
How to get rid of muscle cramps in your legs
To move your legs, you must contract and extend the muscles in your legs, which are made up of bundles of fibers that alternately contract and expand to create movement. The contraction (tightening) of one of these muscles, usually in the calf, occurs suddenly and involuntarily. It is possible for cramps to last anywhere from a few seconds and many minutes. Their intensity might range from light to severe enough to rouse you from a sound slumber. A charley horse is a painful muscular spasm in the leg that occurs suddenly and without warning.
- There are occasions when there is no clear reason for a cramp.
- Causing cramping is more likely to occur when muscles are fatigued or dehydrated.
- Cramping is more likely to occur during pregnancy, presumably as a result of changes in the circulatory system and greater tension on the muscles caused by a developing abdomen.
- Muscles that are older get more quickly fatigued, and they become more sensitive to changes in fluid volume in the body.
Symptoms of muscle cramps
They can include the following:
- Pain and stiffness in a muscle that occurs suddenly, usually in the calf
- A firm lump or twitching under the skin that is only transitory
Diagnosing muscle cramps
The majority of cramps are mild to moderate in severity, but if your cramps are severe, you get them frequently, or you are experiencing other symptoms (such as numbness or weakness) in addition to them, visit your doctor. Crampings are a symptom of a problem with the spine, blood vessels, or liver in rare cases.
Treating muscle cramps
The majority of cramps are mild to moderate in severity, but if your cramps are severe, you get them frequently, or you are experiencing other symptoms (such as numbness or weakness) in addition to them, you should consult a doctor. A issue with the spine, blood arteries, or liver may be indicated by cramping on rare occasions.
Charley horse is another name for this animal. On this page, you will find
See, Play and Learn
When you get a muscle cramp, it means that one or more of your muscles clench or spasm suddenly and without warning. They are quite prevalent and frequently arise as a result of physical activity.
Muscle cramps, particularly leg cramps, can be a problem for certain people at night. They can be uncomfortable and can last anywhere from a few seconds to many minutes. Cramping can occur in any muscle, although it occurs most frequently in the following:
What causes muscle cramps?
Muscle cramps can be caused by a variety of factors, including:
- Overexerting or overstretching a muscle. This is the most prevalent reason for the problem. If you suffer from a spinal cord injury or a pinched nerve in your neck or back, you may experience compression of your nerves. Dehydration
- Elevated amounts of electrolytes (e.g., magnesium, potassium, and calcium)
- There is insufficient blood flow to your muscles
- Pregnancy, certain medications, and other factors Gettingdialysis
Muscle cramps can have a variety of causes, some of which are unknown.
Who is at risk for muscle cramps?
Muscle cramps can occur in everyone, however they are more prevalent in certain individuals:
- Cramping of the muscles can affect everyone, however it is more frequent in certain people:
When do I need to see a health care provider for muscle cramps?
Muscle cramps are normally mild and disappear after a few minutes of occurrence. However, you should consult your health-care practitioner if you have the following symptoms:
- Are really harsh
- This occurs on a regular basis
- Stretching and consuming plenty of water will not help you feel better
- Last for a lengthy period of time
- These symptoms are accompanied by swelling, redness, or a warm sensation
- These symptoms are accompanied by muscular weakness.
What are the treatments for muscle cramps?
Muscle cramps are typically not serious and do not require medical attention. You may be able to get some relief from cramps if you do the following:
- Using gentle stretching or massage motions to relax the muscle Applying heat when a muscle is tight and ice when a muscle is painful will help to relieve the pain. If you are dehydrated, you should drink extra water.
If the cramps are caused by another medical condition, addressing that condition will most likely alleviate them. When it comes to cramp prevention, there are medications available that are occasionally prescribed by doctors, but they are not always helpful and may have negative effects. Consult with your healthcare practitioner about the risks and advantages of taking medications.
Can muscle cramps be prevented?
You may avoid muscular cramps by doing the following:
- Stretch your muscles, especially before you engage in strenuous activity. If you get leg cramps at night on a regular basis, stretch your leg muscles before bed and drink lots of water. Using sports drinks can help you replenish electrolytes if you engage in strenuous exercise or exercise in hot weather
The Best Ways to Get Rid of Cramps in Your Legs
Image courtesy of Sergey Borodin / EyeEmGetty Images The experience of having your leg or calf seize in the middle of the night is a particularly unpleasant way to wake up. Of course, a charley horse can be quite painful at any other time of the year. According to Michael Jaffee, M.D., a neurologist at the University of Florida Health, the pain of a charley horse, which refers to any cramp or involuntary spasm of a muscle, is caused by the spasm and balling up of your muscles, which causes the discomfort.
A recent survey by the American Academy of Family Physicians found that over 60 percent of Americans suffer from nighttime leg cramps.
Here’s what some of the best doctors have to say about it.
Visiting their website may allow you to access the same stuff in a different format, or it may provide you with even more information than you could get elsewhere.
What causes a charley horse?
You would think that experts would be able to pinpoint exactly what is causing your leg cramps, given that they are so terrible. There is no single solution, but there are a few hypotheses to consider. Cramping is frequently attributed to dehydration or an electrolyte imbalance, which is not entirely correct. They might have a part in some way, but it’s unlikely that they are the primary perpetrators. Does this imply that you should avoid eating bananas in order to fight off a charley horse? Consuming them is unlikely to be your primary approach, despite the fact that they include potassium, an electrolyte that you should always have plenty of on board, and that they contain potassium.
The importance of having enough cannot be overstated, yet stocking up on extra supplies will not spare you from the dreaded charley horse alarm clock call.
According to current understanding, a charley horse is more of aneuromuscular condition, in which your skeletal muscles over-fire and bunch up into what you recognize as a cramp for whatever reason.
Again, cramps haven’t revealed their secrets yet, but experts believe that there is a good chance that they are caused by more than one factor. There are a variety of probable reasons why your muscles are over-firing and causing you leg cramps, including:
- Muscles that have been overused or tired, or that have been pushed in novel ways
- A structural or mechanical reason, such as flat feet or circulation difficulties, may exist, according to Christopher Hogrefe, M.D., an assistant professor of orthopedic surgery at Northwestern Medicine and expert in sports medicine. Leg cramps have also been linked to extended sitting or sitting in an uncomfortable position, which may be interfering with the circulation in your legs
- Your medications may be causing a charley horse to appear. In addition, Dr. Hogrefe believes that several prescription drugs, such as diuretics and asthma treatments, as well as statins for cholesterol, may be responsible for the condition. The presence of leg cramps may indicate the presence of more serious conditions such as muscle illness (myopathies), nerve disease (neuropathies), motor neuron disease (ALS), and Parkinson’s disease, according to the expert.
Strangely enough, charley horses appear to be more prevalent at certain seasons: Leg cramp symptoms increased by double in the summer, according to a 2015 research from the University of Alberta. Remains Photographs courtesy of Getty Images
How to stop leg cramps fast
Even though professionals are baffled as to why you get a charley horse, they do have some suggestions for how to avoid them so that you may ease the agony and get on with your life as quickly as possible (or sleep).
Stretch it out.
“It is necessary to stretch the damaged muscle with force. While maintaining your knee fully extended, point the toes of the afflicted leg toward your head to relieve calf spasm or charley horse pain “Dr. Jaffee expresses himself in this way:
Take a bath.
A change in temperature, such as taking a hot shower or an ice bath, can aid in the removal of a charley horse from the body.
Consider pickle juice or capsaicin.
According to a 2010 research, drinking pickle juice within 35 seconds of the onset of leg cramps decreased them by 40 percent more quickly than drinking water did. Nicole Nelson, adjunct instructor in clinical and applied movement sciences at Brooks College of Health at the University of North Florida, explains that while many people believe that the sodium in that juice is responsible for the effect, she believes that relief comes too quickly for sodium to have been absorbed into your system.
When it comes into contact with your mouth and throat, capsaicin (the chemical that gives spicy peppers their heat) may have a similar effect.
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Don’t Let Foot Cramps and Charley Horses Slow You Down
Have you ever had a paralyzing tightness in your leg or foot when you first woke up? Cleveland Clinic is a not-for-profit academic medical facility located in Cleveland, Ohio. Advertising on our website contributes to the success of our mission. We do not recommend or promote any items or services that are not provided by the Cleveland Clinic. Policy Cramping of the foot or the leg (also known as “charley horse”) is a frequent and rather unexplained type of discomfort that occurs when a muscle becomes reflexively rigid and can’t be allowed to relax.
7 common causes for cramps
Spasming or cramping of the foot and calf muscles can occur at any time of day or night.
Likewise, a variety of other muscles in your body might be affected. Why? The following are the most typical causes of muscular cramps:
- Your foot and calf muscles might spasm or cramp at any time of the day or night, depending on the situation. Different muscles throughout your body can do the same thing. Why? Leg cramps are caused by a variety of factors, the most prevalent being:
How to stop leg and foot cramps
Leg and foot cramps can be treated in a number of methods that are straightforward:
- Try just standing up and putting some weight on the afflicted leg or foot if it occurs while you are laying down if possible. This might be sufficient to alleviate the tender stiffness in certain cases. Warmth/heating pads can be used to enhance blood circulation to the muscle and help it relax at the same time. It might also be beneficial to soak in a warm pool of Epsom salt to relieve tension. If the pain is really tenacious, you might try taking a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug such as ibuprofen.
Easy stretches to keep calves and feet happy
The following are some easy stretches that may be used to relieve discomfort and perhaps prevent it.
Basic calf stretch
Runners frequently utilize this calf stretch to improve their performance. Here’s how you go about it:
- Stand with your palms against a wall and your arms spread out in front of you
- Taking a step back with the leg that has been injured, lean forward on the other leg and press up against the wall You should feel a stretch in your calf muscle and the back of your leg after doing this exercise.
While you’re sitting, do this stretch:
- Extend the length of your legs out in front of you
- Draw your afflicted foot’s toes upwards toward the ceiling, ensuring that the leg is engaged. To wrap your foot, use a towel or a neck tie and hold it in place with both hands
- You should slightly lift the leg till you feel a decent stretch
Leg or foot cramps are a common occurrence, although they are usually manageable by the individual experiencing them. However, if they occur regularly, are severe, or if you have reason to believe one of your drugs is to blame, you should consult with your doctor. They might indicate the presence of a medical concern that necessitates care.
How to Get Rid of a Charley Horse – 4 simple fixes
Skip to the main content How to get rid of a charley horse in the following ways: This is a condition that affects both athletic and inactive people. Amuscle cramps are excruciatingly painful, and if you’ve ever been awakened out of sleep by a searing ache in your leg that left you gasping for air, you understand how awful they can be. If you’ve never had the pleasure of riding a charley horse (also known as a Charlie Horse, depending on who you ask), consider yourself fortunate. In this post, we’ll go over four of the most effective strategies for dealing with or preventing muscular cramps.
What is a charley horse?
Continue reading the article. A charley horse can be expelled in the following ways: Neither athletes nor sedentary individuals are immune to this condition. The agony of an amuscle cramp may be excruciatingly terrible if you’ve ever been awakened out of sleep by a burning ache in your leg that left you gasping for air. A charley horse (sometimes called Charlie Horse) is a type of wild horse that may be found in many parts of the world. Four of the most effective strategies for overcoming or preventing muscular cramps are discussed in this article.
What causes muscle cramps?
There is substantial controversy in the scientific community regarding what causes a charley horse because they frequently occur in healthy persons and can strike at any time of day or night, seemingly for no discernible reason. Muscle cramps, for example, can occur in middle-aged and older adults, but they are also prevalent in athletes (such as long-distance runners and cyclists) and those who lead physically active lifestyles. Certain populations are known to be more susceptible than others, and certain circumstances are known to enhance the likelihood of contracting the disease.
People at Risk to Get a Charley Horse
When it comes to the etiology of a charley horse, there is considerable controversy in the scientific community because they frequently occur in healthy persons and strike at night without obvious explanation. Body cramps (muscle spasms) are prevalent in middle-aged and older adults, but they are also common among athletes (long-distance runners, bikers, and those who lead physically active lives). Certain populations are more susceptible than others, and certain circumstances are known to enhance the likelihood of developing the condition.
- Intense exercisers, those who are dehydrated, or people who utilize muscle power in hot conditions People who have specific medical diseases, such as nerve abnormalities, cirrhosis, an underactive thyroid gland (hypothyroidism), or who take certain drugs
- People who are pregnant or planning to become pregnant
- Women who walk around in high heels
- Those who are elderly
- Women who are pregnant
Significant hazards of low magnesium levels during pregnancy are discussed in another article. Cramping is common among long-distance runners and cyclists, as well as other persons who engage in frequent physical activity. Although it is possible that this is due to overuse, it is also possible that these individuals have electrolyte shortages or imbalances as a result of losing vital electrolytes through perspiration. Another risk related with acquiring a charley horse is dehydration, which, as you can expect, has an impact on athletes.
Women who wear high heels may develop muscular cramps as a result of the posture of their feet and legs in high heel shoes, which puts them in a cramp-prone position.
1. How to Get Rid of a Charley Horse – Maintain Electrolyte Balance
Mineral deficiencies or electrolyte imbalances, such as those resulting from lack or excess of magnesium, potassium, calcium, or sodium, are also known to increase the likelihood of contracting charley horse. Natural electrolytes are essential for life, health, and peak performance, according to a related article. A class of minerals known as electrolytes play a crucial role in the function of the muscles. Mineral imbalance, according to some studies, can impair blood flow to the muscles by allowing them to contract but not relax.
So, if you want to get rid of a charley horse or avoid getting one in the future, try adding electrolytes to your diet.
- The mineral potassium can impair the muscles’ capacity to utilise glycogen, a sugar that serves as the muscles’ primary source of energy when they are deficient in potassium. SODIUM: This is a vital electrolyte
- Nevertheless, the majority of individuals obtain adequate of it from their daily diet. Sodium should only be a dietary issue if your intake is insufficient or if you perspire excessively when working or participating in physical activity. If any of these two scenarios applies to you, replacing sodium should be considered
- Otherwise, it should not. Magnesium: Magnesium is a necessary element for muscular function, since it aids in the contraction and relaxation of muscles. Chloride is an electrolyte that helps your body balance the amount of fluid that is present in your system. Since of chloride’s involvement in maintaining fluid balance, it is particularly significant because dehydration can be a contributing reason to muscular cramps.
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2. Supplement with Magnesium
Visit this page to learn more about the elete electrolyte add-in, which includes all four of the electrolytes indicated above.
3. Correct Dehydration
Maintaining enough fluid intake is a third preventative approach, which is particularly important if you sweat a lot in hot weather, exercise for lengthy periods of time, or work in hot settings. Dehydration can be life-threatening, but did you know that even slight dehydration can cause your blood volume to decrease, which, in turn, can lower the amount of oxygen delivered to your muscles? It is possible for muscles to go into spasm when the oxygen supply to the muscles is restricted. Make sure to drink lots of water throughout the day, with electrolytes thrown in for good measure.
However, you should not rely on traditional sports drinks to keep muscular cramps at bay.
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4. Stretch Properly
If a cramp does arise, try extending the muscles that are being cramped. Calves may be stretched by bringing your toes towards your knees while keeping the afflicted leg extended straight, for example, to alleviate calf cramps. After that, soak in a warm bath or take a hot shower (allowing the water to reach the afflicted area) to aid in the relaxation of the muscle. Third, gently massage the afflicted region, taking care not to apply too much pressure to the skin or muscles. Use an ice pack on the injured muscle to minimize the discomfort and swelling associated with the injury.
Finally, if you are experiencing persistent or severe leg cramps, you should consult your doctor.
It might be a symptom of a more serious issue, therefore it’s crucial to consult with your doctor first before proceeding. Related article: Liquid trace minerals – How to Determine the Quality of a Mineral Supplement. Sources:
- Leg cramps in the middle of the night. Prevention Magazine has an electronic edition that may be accessed online. The Complete Book of Vitamins and Minerals is a reference book that has a comprehensive list of vitamins and minerals. New York, New York: Rodale Press, 1998, pp. 319-325
- C. Roffe, S. Sills, P. Crome, and P. Jones. It was determined that magnesium citrate was effective in treating chronic leg cramps in a randomized, cross-over, placebo controlled experiment. Med Sci Monit. 2002
- 8(5): CR326-30
- Med Sci Monit.
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Leg Cramps in the middle of the night Prevention Magazine has an electronic edition that may be accessed on the web. vitamin and mineral supplements are covered in detail in The Complete Book of Vitamins and Minerals, published by the National Institutes of Health in Washington, DC. Three hundred and twenty-five pages (Rodale Press, New York, 1998) The authors (Croft, Sills, Crome, and Jones) have published a paper titled It was determined that magnesium citrate was effective in treating chronic leg cramps in a randomized, cross-over, placebo controlled study.
2002 8(5): CR326–30.
Charley horse: Causes, symptoms, remedies, and more
A charley horse is a muscular spasm that occurs suddenly and is extremely painful. It is more common after physical activity and at night. A calf muscle strain is most usually associated with lower leg pain, although it can also manifest itself in the foot and, on rare occasions, the thigh. These muscular spasms may also be experienced by pregnant women and persons suffering from certain medical disorders. Leg cramps afflict around a third of the population over the age of 50. According to a paper published in 2021, experts are unsure about the actual cause of muscular cramping.
Muscle cramps can be caused by a variety of factors, including the following:
- Nocturnal leg cramps may be caused by vigorous daily exercise, electrolyte imbalances, or the use of certain drugs
- Nevertheless, there is no definitive cause for them. Muscle cramps during pregnancy can be caused by a variety of factors, including weight growth, blood flow disturbance, and peripheral nerve compression. Cramping can occur during or after exercise due to a variety of factors including neurological changes, dehydration, and electrolyte imbalances, particularly in the arms and legs.
Crampings, particularly those that afflict the leg, are referred to as “charley horses.” Despite the fact that some individuals use the term “charley horse” to describe muscular spasms or twitches, these are two very distinct events. In general, clinicians understand the need of distinguishing between cramps and other disorders that appear to be the same as cramps, such as the following:
- Dystonia is a movement condition characterized by involuntary movements
- Myotonia is the process of muscles tensing, which includes both voluntarily flexing and involuntarily contracting
- And dystonia is a movement disorder characterized by involuntary movements. Tetany, which is an electrolyte imbalance caused by low calcium levels
- Myalgia, which is muscular soreness
Scientists have determined that a charley horse arises when muscles abruptly spasm or constrict, resulting in pain and discomfort. The ailment most commonly affects the calf muscle, which is located towards the rear of the lower leg. The abrupt and uncontrolled spasm is usually short, but it can linger for up to ten minutes in certain cases. The majority of people have unpleasant muscular contractions that do not result in long-term difficulties. Others, on the other hand, may have excruciating agony and suffering that lasts for several days.
Painful leg cramps, for example, might make it more difficult to move about and get around.
Additionally, the timing of a cramp might have an impact on its significance.
According to an analysis published in 2021, there are various risk factors for leg cramps:
- Being above the age of 60: A total of 37 percent of Americans over the age of 60 suffer from nocturnal leg cramps
- Being pregnant entails a number of changes. Cramping of the muscles occurs in around 50% of pregnant women, especially at night. If you have chronic renal failure, you may have the following symptoms: People suffering from chronic renal failure account for around 50% of the population. Muscle cramps, particularly in the legs, are experienced
- Having amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) means you have the following symptoms: Muscle cramps are common in people with ALS, with a 95 percent risk of having them. Having diabetes is a medical condition. Muscle cramps are experienced by around 60% of persons with type 1 diabetes. The prevalence of type 2 diabetes is around 80% in the general population.
Acute calf discomfort can occur for a variety of reasons that are unrelated to cramping. These are some examples:
- Trauma, deep vein thrombosis, a burst Baker’s cyst, to name a few conditions.
Following a review of publications published in 2017, researchers discovered that the following categories of sickness are frequently associated with leg cramps:
- A number of diseases and treatments are available for cardiovascular diseases, including coronary artery disease, high blood pressure, and uremia
- Neurological conditions such as motor neuron disease and polio
- And musculoskeletal problems such as arthritis. Metabolic conditions such as type 2 diabetes, liver disease, and thyroid dysfunction are also available.
Drugs and muscle cramps
Leg cramps are a common side effect of several medications. Staminoids, which assist decrease cholesterol levels, and diuretics, which help lower blood pressure levels, are examples of such medications. Some stimulants, such as amphetamines and caffeine, may also cause a charley horse or a leg cramp if taken in large quantities. Anyone who experiences leg cramps after taking prescription medications should consult with a doctor or pharmacist, who can provide advice on whether or not the medicine should be changed.
When the frequency or severity of muscular cramping increases, it is important to see a doctor since it might indicate an underlying condition that needs to be addressed.
- It is important to know what the cramping feels like and where it occurs
- When and how often the cramps occur
- How severe the cramps are
- Whether they have started recently
- The person’s exercise habits
- Whether the person has any other symptoms, medical problems, or is taking any medications
- And whether the person is pregnant.
According to the 2021 study, a doctor may also instruct the patient to conduct stretches around the area afflicted by cramps or to move muscles in the surrounding area. This information can assist the doctor in determining the likely reason. In accordance with current research, quinine appears to be the only medicine that can help lower the intensity and frequency of leg cramps. Doctors, on the other hand, are reluctant to suggest this medication since its usefulness is questionable, despite the possibility of major adverse effects.
- Standing or moving the leg or foot will help to gently stretch out the muscle. Pulling the toes and the foot up and to the front of the leg should be firm but not harsh. Continue to perform these exercises until the cramping subsides and disappears.
A massage of the tight muscle has been shown to be effective by some persons. Depending on whether there are evidence of an underlying disease that may be causing the cramping, a doctor may recommend more tests. If a person is taking a medication that increases the likelihood of cramping, a doctor may decide to modify the medication or the dosage. A person may want to attempt the following methods to avoid getting a charley horse or a muscular cramp:
- Leaving enough time between eating and exercising
- Warming up before and after exercise by gently stretching muscles
- Drinking fluids and eating a small amount of food after exercise to replace fluid and minerals lost during exercise
- Staying hydrated by drinking plenty of water at all times
- Avoiding caffeine and other stimulants Keeping an eye out for any potential adverse effects of prescription medicines
A number of individuals take magnesium supplements to try to ease muscle cramps. However, evidence shows that magnesium supplements are ineffective in alleviating either pregnancy-related leg cramps or nocturnal leg cramps in women. Changes that may be beneficial, despite the lack of scientific evidence to support them, include the following:
- The use of relaxation techniques such as massage and heat treatment, as well as the use of alternative footwear, are all recommended. for people who lead a physically inactive existence, physical activity
Although the exact origin of the phrase is unknown, sources claim that the term charley horse, which is used to describe a muscular cramp, dates back to casual American athletic discourse that began in the 1880s and continues today. One explanation holds that the name originated from a baseball player who was referring to a lame horse. Horses were formerly employed to assist with groundskeeping duties in baseball. The name was allegedly derived from a baseball player named Charley, who had muscular cramps while pitching during a game in 1880, according to a tale that published in the Washington Post in 1907.
A charley horse, often known as a leg cramp, is a frequent ailment that does not generally signal the presence of a major medical condition.
Charley horse can be difficult to cure or avoid, with the exception of warming up before physical activity and staying hydrated throughout the process.
It is recommended that a person get medical attention if their cramps are severe and they are experiencing additional symptoms such as altered level of awareness or fever.
7 Ways to Prevent Night Leg Cramps (Charley Horses)
Have you ever gone to bed and woken up with a terrible leg cramp? If so, you are not alone. If you suffer from night leg cramps, also known as nocturnal leg cramps, it can be a living nightmare. Cavernous calf spasms and thigh cramps are characterized by rapid, unpleasant (and often severe) spasms in the calf muscles and thighs, but they can also affect your feet. They can happen when you are awake, although they happen the most frequently at night.
Causes for Nocturnal Leg Cramps
Despite the fact that night leg cramps are sometimes referred to as “charley horses,” there is no Charley and certainly no horse responsible for their occurrence. You might be wondering what might be prompting these unpleasant admonitions to get out of bed in the morning. According to Dr. Joyce Lee-Iannotti of Banner Health in Phoenix, Arizona, “No one really knows the exact cause of leg cramps at night, but there are some known factors that can increase your risk,” she said. “No one really knows the exact cause of leg cramps at night, but there are some known factors that can increase your risk.” These considerations are as follows:
- Your chronological age is: The prevalence of nocturnal leg cramps in those over the age of 50 is thought to be close to 60 percent. Pregnancy: This may arise as a result of increased weight and changes in circulation. Individuals suffering from renal and thyroid disorders, as well as those suffering from peripheral neuropathy (nerve damage in the legs), may have leg cramps. Medications that may be used include: Leg cramps may be exacerbated by some drugs, such as diuretics, blood pressure meds, or statins.
In addition, Dr. Lee-Iannotti stated that overexerting your muscles, sitting for extended periods of time without moving, dehydration, and standing and walking on hard surfaces all day are all risk factors for osteoporosis.
Could it be Restless Leg Syndrome?
Nighttime leg cramps are sometimes confused with another illness known as restless leg syndrome, or RLS, which causes tingling in the legs. Leg cramps, like restless leg syndrome, are most common while the person is at rest. Leg cramps, on the other hand, cause muscular tension, cramping, and discomfort, whereas muscle cramps do not. A odd and uncomfortable impulse to move your legs will occur while you are suffering from RLS in attempt to relieve discomfort, although there is typically no pain connected with it.
7 Ways to Relieve and Prevent Leg Cramps at Night
The good news is that, despite the fact that they can be quite painful, nocturnal leg cramps are seldom life-threatening. There are seven home treatments you may attempt to assist ease discomfort and perhaps avoid uncomfortable wake-up calls, but some of them may require a little of trial and error.
- You should stretch your hamstring and calf muscles many times during the day and before night
- Throughout the day, drink lots of water and keep an eye on your alcohol and caffeine intake
- Mild workouts, like as walking or riding a stationary bike for a few minutes, can be done before bed to help you relax. Maintain a healthy lifestyle by eating properly, exercising regularly, and getting adequate sleep
- Take a warm bath or shower to relieve tension in your muscles
- Wearing supportive shoes with enough arch and ankle support is recommended. Keep your sheets and blankets free around your feet so that you are not constrained in your movements during the night.
“If none of these therapies work for you, and you are still experiencing severe continuous cramping that is interfering with your sleep and everyday activities, see your doctor,” Dr. Lee-Iannotti said. “Nocturnal leg cramps should not have a negative impact on your overall health.” Nocturnal leg cramps, often known as charley horses, can be a genuine nuisance, but don’t let them get the better of you. By visiting bannerhealth.com, you may speak with a Banner Health professional about your symptoms.
How to Get Rid of a Charley Horse
Article in PDF format Article in PDF format No one wants to be saddled with the charley horse, a painful cramping or spasm of your leg muscles that will cause you to halt in the middle of whatever you’re doing.
It may occur on any portion of your leg, and it always occurs at the most inconvenient of times, according to the experts. Use the strategies indicated below to get rid of your charley horse as quickly as possible and prevent future occurrences.
- 1Massage the muscles with your hands. In order to alleviate the pressure and unpleasant cramping associated with Charley horses, massage the calf, foot, and occasionally thighs as described above. In a circular motion, apply medium pressure with your thumbs and fingertips to both the direct location of discomfort and a little area above it to increase circulation and relieve pain. Continue doing this for a few minutes until the discomfort lessens or until you decide to switch to another therapy. 2 Stretch. Because of the spasms, your muscles have gotten constricted, and stretching will assist to relax and soften them. It is recommended that you perform one or several stretches that lengthen the muscles in the afflicted area in order to bring fast relief.
- Standing up straight, go into a lunging stance with your rear leg feeling the charley horse, then repeat the same with your other leg. Straighten out your rear leg while maintaining the bend in your front leg. This will put your weight onto the toes of your rear leg
- If it is more comfortable, you can lean forward slightly onto your bent knee. Place your legs straight in front of you on your bed or the floor, and sit back in your chair. Your knees should be locked, and your toes should be pointed back towards your face. Grab your toes and gently draw your foot backward on the leg on which you are feeling the charley horse
- Stand up straight on your tippy-toes and maintain this position for as long as you are able
- Repeat on the other leg. This will help to stretch out the calf muscles and minimize spasming in them. Taking a few seconds pause every few seconds and then continuing stretching
Advertisement 3 Take a long, hot bath. Fill your bathtub halfway with warm water and Epsom salts, then soak for 10-20 minutes to relieve stress. The heat and the salts will work together to relax your stiff muscles and take your mind off the discomfort you are experiencing. 4Raise the elevation of the place. Prop the afflicted part up using cushions or the armrest of a chair or couch to alleviate the discomfort. Elevating the affected area will aid in improving your circulation and facilitating the movement of blood to and from the spasming location.
A heat compress applied for 10-15 minutes might help to reduce muscular spasms and relieve pain.
Never apply ice straight to your skin; instead, wrap it in a cloth or bandage before putting it on your skin.
- 1 Stretch on a regular basis. In the event that you exercise or work out on a regular basis, thorough stretching before each session can help to avoid tension and subsequent charley horses. Stretch for 2-5 minutes before to beginning any fitness program. Lunges and quad stretches are two of the most effective stretches for preventing charlie horse.
- To execute a quad stretch, stand with your feet together and bend one of your knees. Carry on bending your knee to the extent that you are able, and then grasp your foot from behind you and hold it for 10 seconds
- If you want to execute a lunge, start by getting into a kneeling position on the ground with one leg bent at the knee and your weight totally supported by the other calf. Then, lift your body off the ground such that both of your legs are bent in the same direction. Walk around the room in that position, switching back and forth between legs, and repeat this process several times.
2Increase your potassium intake. Muscle spasms and cramps are more common in those who have low potassium levels, according to research. Consume potassium-rich foods at least once a day, such as bananas, avocados, and oranges, among other things. In addition, you may want to consider purchasing potassium supplements from a local health food store. 3Increase your calcium and magnesium intake. Muscle cramps are prevented and your body is kept in peak condition by taking advantage of the combination of these vitamins.
The combination may be found in abundance in dairy products and nuts.
It has been shown that having excessive salt levels in your blood might have negative effects on your muscles and circulation.
As a boost to your water consumption while exercising, sports drinks that contain electrolytes can be used in addition to the water.
- Drinking alcohol should be limited or avoided entirely since it dehydrates you.
5Avoid diuretics at all costs. The amount of water and electrolytes in your body will be reduced as a result of anything that causes you to pee more frequently, which is bad news if you have muscular cramps. If at all possible, avoid consuming excessive amounts of coffee and refrain from taking any medications that produce frequent urination. Advertisement Create a new question
- Question: What causes charley horses to appear in the middle of the night and wake you up? The author Luba Lee, FNP-BC is a board certified Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP) and educator in Tennessee with more than a decade of experience in the field. Pediatric Advanced Life Support (PALS), Emergency Medicine, Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS), Team Building, and Critical Care Nursing are among Luba’s credentials. In 2006, she graduated with honors from the University of Tennessee with a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN). The University of Tennessee offers a Master’s Degree in Nursing. Knoxville Expert AnswerBy unlocking this expert answer, you can help wikiHow continue to grow. No one is certain what causes charley horses to appear throughout the night, although poor hydration or nutritional imbalances, as well as insufficient muscular stretching and strengthening, may all be contributing factors. Question Getting rid of charley horses in my foot is not easy. The author Luba Lee, FNP-BC is a board certified Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP) and educator in Tennessee with more than a decade of experience in the field. Pediatric Advanced Life Support (PALS), Emergency Medicine, Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS), Team Building, and Critical Care Nursing are among Luba’s credentials. In 2006, she graduated with honors from the University of Tennessee with a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN). The University of Tennessee offers a Master’s Degree in Nursing. KnoxvilleExpert AnswerHelp wikiHow by unlocking this expert answer from Knoxville, Tennessee. To treat a charlie horse or muscle spasm in your foot, stop whatever you’re doing, softly massage your foot, and stretch the region while taking deep, calm breaths in and out through your nose. Heat therapy, staying hydrated, relaxing, and taking Epsom salt foot baths are all recommended. After the discomfort has subsided, you may apply ice to the area. If your discomfort persists or recurs regularly, speak with your doctor about different treatment choices.
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- Consult your doctor if you get Charley horses on a regular basis and the therapy you’re receiving isn’t alleviating the symptoms. It’s possible that you have a more serious condition that is causing the muscular spasms. Try drinking pickle juice, Gatorade, or another electrolyte-rich beverage after you exercise if you have muscular cramps regularly after you exercise. Perform squats with someone holding your hand, pausing at various places. Walk around in a regular manner if the situation is not too critical and the pain has subsided somewhat. If you want to lessen the quantity of muscular cramps you experience, select shoes that are comfy for you.
About This Article
To get rid of a charley horse, massage the muscle that is cramping with your fingers in a circular motion, applying strong pressure to the area where the cramping is occurring. If it doesn’t work, try sitting down and pointing your toes, or standing on your tiptoes, to stretch the muscle out a little farther. If you have a charley horse that won’t go away, try applying an ice pack to the muscle for 15 minutes or taking a warm bath to relieve the pain and inflammation. Drink lots of water every day to avoid future charley horses, and stretch before any physical activity to avoid injury or cramping.
Continue reading to discover more about taking an Epsom bath from our Medical Review Board co-author, as well as other useful tips. Did you find this overview to be helpful? The writers of this page have together authored a page that has been read 1384,338 times.