Charley Horse Prevention
- Eat more foods high in vitamins and magnesium.
- Stay hydrated.
- Stretch daily and before exercise.
- Wear comfortable shoes.
- Limit how much alcohol you drink.
- Ramp up your exercise slowly rather than all at once.
- Don’t exercise right after you eat.
- Don’t smoke.
How to prevent Charley horses?
- Treatment for a charley horse. The treatment for charley horses depends on the underlying cause. If a charley horse is exercise-induced, simple stretches and massages can help relax the muscle and stop it from contracting. Heating pads can accelerate the relaxation process, while an ice pack can help numb the pain.
How do you get rid of a charlie horse in your calf?
How do I stop a leg cramp? Try forcefully stretching the affected muscle (for example, stretch your calf muscle by flexing your foot upward). Jiggle your leg, massage it, or force yourself to walk. It might also help to apply ice or heat – use a heating pad or take a warm bath.
What are you lacking when you get charley 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.
What does it mean when you get a charley horse in your calf?
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.
What causes a charley horse in calf while sleeping?
Inactivity during the day This physical inactivity when a person has not stretched their muscles for a while may increase the risk of cramps, and these can commonly occur in bed at night. Someone who does not stretch their muscles or exercise regularly may be more at risk of leg cramps at night.
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 prevent a charley horse when you feel it coming?
Preventing charley horses
- Stretch before and after exercise.
- Avoid exercising the same muscles on consecutive days.
- Do not exercise in severe weather.
- Drink water throughout the day.
- Drink beverages that contain electrolytes, such as Gatorade.
- Stretch before going to bed.
What is the fastest way to get rid of a Charlie horse?
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.
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.”
What can I drink for leg cramps?
Drink Water Dehydration often plays a part in muscle cramps, so drinking enough water throughout the day can help keep them at bay. Drinking fluids while you have a cramp helps the muscles contract and relax. When you keep hydrated, your muscle cells also stay hydrated and are less irritable or uncomfortable.
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.
How do you relieve a calf cramp?
If you have a cramp, these actions may provide relief:
- Stretch and massage. Stretch the cramped muscle and gently rub it to help it relax. For a calf cramp, put your weight on your cramped leg and bend your knee slightly.
- Apply heat or cold. Use a warm towel or heating pad on tense or tight muscles.
What is the best vitamin for leg cramps?
A significant body of research has found that increasing your magnesium intake can help with the frequency of night time leg cramps, especially for pregnant women. Health experts recommend getting at least 300 milligrams of magnesium each day.
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.
Why do they call it a charley horse?
We know that the term charley horse originated when American baseball players were describing the cramps. Possibly, the players named the painful cramps in reference to a lame horse named Charley that worked at the Chicago White Sox playing field in the late 1800s.
Do you put heat or ice on a Charlie horse?
Heat will relax the muscle at first. Ice may be helpful after the first spasm and when the pain has improved. If the muscle is still sore after heat and ice, you can use nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medicines to help with pain. In more severe cases, your health care provider can prescribe antispasm medicines.
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.
Muscle cramp – Symptoms and causes
When you have a muscle cramp, one or more of your muscles tighten in an unexpected and involuntary manner. If you’ve ever woken up in the middle of the night or been stopped in your tracks by a sudden charley horse, you know that muscular cramps may be excruciatingly painful to deal with. Muscle cramps, though normally innocuous, can make it hard to utilize the afflicted muscle for a short period of time. Muscle cramps can occur after prolonged durations of physical activity or manual labor, particularly in hot temperatures.
Muscle cramps can be caused by a variety of factors, including drugs and medical problems. The majority of the time, self-care procedures may be used to cure muscular cramps at home.
The contraction of one or more of your muscles occurs suddenly and without your consent. A charley horse may cause tremendous agony, and if you’ve ever been woken up in the middle of the night or stopped in your tracks by one, you know how painful muscular cramps can be. Cramping can make it momentarily unable to utilize the muscle that is cramping, even though it is normally non-lethal. Muscle cramps can occur after prolonged durations of physical activity or labor, particularly in hot temperatures.
When you get muscular cramps at home, self-care procedures are generally sufficient to alleviate the discomfort.
When to see a doctor
Muscle cramps normally go away on their own and are not acute enough to necessitate medical attention in most cases. Consult your doctor if your cramps include any of the following symptoms:
- Result in extreme discomfort
- Are connected with leg edema, redness, or changes in the appearance of the skin
- These conditions are connected with muscular weakness. This occurs on a regular basis
- Self-care does not help
- Instead, it makes things worse. Don’t appear to be related with a clearly identifiable cause, such as severe exercise
Muscle cramps can be caused by overuse of a muscle, dehydration, muscle tension, or just being in one posture for an extended amount of time. In many situations, however, the exact reason for the condition is unknown. Although the vast majority of muscular cramps are innocuous, some may be associated with a medical condition such as one of the following:
- There is insufficient blood supply. When the arteries that supply blood to your legs become narrowed (a condition known as arteriosclerosis of the extremities), it might cause cramp-like pain in your legs and feet when you’re exercising. These pains normally subside after a few minutes of ceasing exercise. Compression of the nerves. Compression of nerves in your spine (lumbar stenosis) can cause cramp-like pain in your legs as well as other symptoms. The discomfort normally intensifies as you walk for a longer period of time. If you walk in a slightly flexed stance, such as you would if you were pulling a shopping cart in front of you, you may find that your symptoms improve or are delayed in onset.
- Mineral depletion is a problem. Leg cramps might be exacerbated if you consume too little potassium, calcium, or magnesium. Diuretics, which are commonly taken to treat high blood pressure, can also deplete these minerals in the body.
Muscle cramps can be caused by a variety of factors, some of which are as follows:
- Age. Because older persons lose muscular mass, the residual muscle is more susceptible to being overstressed
- Dehydration. Cramping is common in athletes who become weary and dehydrated when participating in warm-weather activities. Cramping is also common in pregnant women. Muscle cramps are also prevalent during pregnancy
- However, they are less severe. Medical conditions are listed below. It is possible that you will be more susceptible to muscular cramps if you have diabetes, or if you have nerve, liver, or thyroid diseases.
Cramping may be avoided by following these steps:
- Dehydration should be avoided. Drink enough of fluids on a daily basis. This varies depending on your diet, your gender, your level of exercise, the weather, your physical and mental well-being, your age, and the drugs you take. Fluids aid in the contraction and relaxation of your muscles, as well as keeping muscle cells hydrated and less irritable. Replace fluids at regular intervals while your exercise, and continue to drink water or other fluids after you’ve stopped
- Make sure to stretch your muscles. Stretching should be done before and after using any muscle for a lengthy amount of time. Stretching before bedtime might help if you suffer from leg cramps at night. Light activity, such as riding a stationary bicycle for a few minutes before night, may also be beneficial in preventing cramps while you’re sleeping
- For example,
3rd of March, 2021
- Muscle cramps are a painful condition. An acronym for the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. Winkelman JW (accessed November 18, 2015)
- Winkelman JW. Leg cramps that occur during night. Muscle spasms, last accessed on November 18, 2015. Professional Edition of the Merck Manual. On November 18, 2015, I was able to access
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. There is a higher likelihood of having a Charley horse if you belong to one of the following groups:
- 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.
- 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
For a few seconds, you can also stand on the tips of your toes in order to stretch out your calf muscles.
The symptoms of the occasional charley horse are often straightforward to avoid after the underlying cause has been identified and addressed. Take the following actions to reduce your risk of future muscle spasms:
- You may also stretch your calf muscles by standing on the tips of your toes for a few seconds. The symptoms of the occasional charley horse are often straightforward to prevent after the underlying cause has been identified and addressed. Consider taking the following strategies to reduce your risk of future muscle spasms:
A frequent occurrence, Charley horses can arise in any muscle and at any moment. They’re typically curable, and in certain cases, they can even be prevented. Pain induced by a spasm is usually temporary, lasting no more than a day or two. However, if you are experiencing charley horses on a regular basis, you should consult your doctor about possible remedies.
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.
When a person seeks medical attention for a charley horse condition, the doctor may inquire about their symptoms, which may include:
- 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.
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. The use of some medications, such as statins, to treat high cholesterol can cause cramping as a side effect as well.
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 will subside on their own within a few minutes. Relaxing the muscle by massaging it or gently extending it will aid in its recovery. Heat is a great way to relax stiff muscles. Massage the muscle with a heating pad or a warm damp towel to aid with the relaxation process. Ensure that you drink lots of fluids before and throughout exercise to avoid leg cramps in the future. Muscles require fluid in order to contract and relax correctly. Warming up your leg muscles before you start out with either walking in place or a gentle jog will help prevent tightness.
If you have a tendency to experience cramps while sleeping, perform another round of stretches before bed.
Photo courtesy of photocheaper/Getty Images For the benefit of our readers, Harvard Health Publishing makes our archival content available to them via a secure website.
No information on this site, regardless of when it was published, should ever be considered as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or another trained healthcare professional.
Take that, muscle cramps!
Photograph courtesy of ChesiireCat/Getty Images Muscle cramps are often a surprise when they occur. A charley horse in the middle of the night or a back spasm when reaching for an ordinary object are examples of involuntary contractions that occur without notice. Keep in mind, though, that a cramp should not be taken too seriously. “When it hits unexpectedly, refrain from exercising or tightening the muscle. Just gradually stretch it till it reaches your comfort level. This aids in the relaxation of the muscle and the relief of the uncontrollable contraction “Madhuri Kale, a physical therapist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, which is connected with Harvard University, agrees.
What causes cramps?
Cramping can occur when you exercise without adequately warming up your muscles beforehand. Cramps can also occur when a muscle is unable to relax properly (for example, if you have a magnesium or potassium deficiency in your diet) or when it becomes irritated by a buildup of lactic acid (which can occur if you do not allow your muscle to rest after it has been subjected to intense physical activity). Both of these conditions can be exacerbated by dehydration. According to Kale, older persons frequently do not drink enough water at night because they do not want to have to go to the bathroom, and as a result, they become dehydrated.
This can develop as a result of atherosclerosis, which is the narrowing of the arteries that provide blood to your legs.
“Some individuals claim that if their feet protrude from under their blankets at night, they may develop cramps.
Cramping can also be caused by misfiring neurons that get confused as a result of neurological diseases (such as Parkinson’s disease, neuropathy, or spine abnormalities that compress nerves in the lower back).
Finally, according to Kale, cramps can occur as a side effect of some drugs, such as diuretics, which can induce dehydration as well as mineral imbalances. Statin medications, on the other hand, might create chronic muscular pains and cramps, albeit they are seldom the cause of cramps.
Relief for cramps
Learn basic stretches that may be used to offer immediate relief when cramps strike. In order to alleviate calf cramps at night, Kale recommends the following method: “Sit up in bed, loop the blanket over your foot, and gently draw your toes toward you while keeping your knee straight,” she offers. To relieve cramps in the lower leg, you may simply stand up at the side of your bed, place your weight on the balls of the feet, and elevate the heels; this gently stretches the cramped muscle and relieves the cramping sensation.
Sit on the floor with your legs stretched in front of you if you are experiencing hamstring cramps (at the back of the thigh).
For 30 seconds, maintain the posture, then gently return to a seated position.
After that, massage the muscle lightly.
Move of the month: Back stretch: Child’s pose
Michael Carroll captured this image. Take a few deep breaths before getting down on your hands and knees. Lower your hips backward until your buttocks rest on the backs of your heels and feet, all while maintaining your hands flat on the floor in front of you. Afterwards, without adjusting your buttocks, drop your forehead to the floor and stretch your arms in front of you, with your hands remaining flat on the floor, as shown. Hold for a few seconds, and then take a deep breath as you rise to your feet.
Tips to prevent cramps
According to Kale, staying hydrated throughout the day, eating foods high in magnesium (especially leafy greens) and potassium (bananas, black beans), wearing warm socks at night if you have leg cramps, and keeping your muscles strong and flexible through regular exercise are all good ideas for treating leg cramps. Quinine pills were once prescribed, but they are no longer so unless the cramps are incapacitating. As Kale explains, “They have the potential to cause negative side effects and interactions with other drugs.” A last point: “Cramps are exceedingly unpleasant, but they do not indicate the presence of a major illness,” said Dr.
In order to avoid a cramp, stretch the muscle and return to your previous activities.
Please include a note of the date of the most recent review or update for each article.
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:
- People over the age of 50
- Those who are overweight Women who are pregnant
- Those who have specific medical issues, such as thyroid and nervous system abnormalities
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.
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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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How to prevent a Charley Horse
We have all been victims of the ever-throbbing charley horse at some point in our lives. You are suddenly awakened by an excruciating pain in the muscles of your lower legs while you are deep in slumber. Sometimes the pain is so unbearable that you find yourself kicking off your sheets, scream for help, or crying out in frustration. A Charley Horse can make it appear as if the suffering would never cease. If you are experiencing muscle cramps at night, you are not alone; one in every three adults suffers from them.
- Brian Oostman, a family medicine physician withAdvocate Medical Groupin Aurora, Ill.
- They can be described as “contractions” of the muscles that occur on the spur of the moment and have a fire-like sensation, occurring at rates of up to 150 contractions per second.
- Through conducting a survey among participants, researchers acquired a greater grasp of the sort of discomfort people were experiencing during muscular cramps.
- Experiencing soreness around the calf muscles was a common side effect the next day.
- The researchers observed cramps may occur from a number of factors: a bad dream, insufficient blood supply to legs, exercising too little or even over-exertion of the leg muscles.
- The researchers explain each person’s sleep patterns are unique, and when twisting your body in a particular way, you can be more inclined to cramping.
- For example, pointing yourtoeswhile asleep is a common Charley Horse trigger.
- “To prevent muscle cramps, I advise people to staywell hydrated, eat a balanced diet rich in calcium, potassium and magnesium, stretch each day – especially before exercise and avoid plantar flexion (pointing the toes) when sleeping,” says Dr.
Oostman. If you get a cramp or Charley Horse, Dr. Oostman recommends trying the following suggestions:
- If the cramp arises in the leg, place your weight on the limb that is afflicted. It is possible to relax the muscle by taking a hot bath with Epsom salts
- Ice can be used to alleviate discomfort. Nonetheless, NSAIDs may be beneficial if there is persistent discomfort after the cramp has subsided
- However, you should see your doctor before taking any medication.
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?
It is most commonly referred to as a “charley horse” because it is an involuntary reflex in which the neurons controlling a muscle (typically the calf muscle) misfire, causing the muscle to freeze and lock into a contracted posture. A charley horse can be quite painful, and it can leave you limping around for many days after it occurs. In addition to the calf muscles, the muscles in the soles of the feet can also cramp, which can be quite painful as well. Cramps can develop in any region of the body if muscles are overworked and fatigued.
Here’s a fun piece on the subject: The Origins of the Expression “Charley Horse”
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
Here is a brief list of the people who are most at risk of getting muscular cramps:
- 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.
Low levels of any of these minerals can allow the muscle to contract but prevent it from relaxing. 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.
Visit this page to learn more about the elete electrolyte add-in, which contains all four of the electrolytes listed above and more.
2. Supplement with Magnesium
Researchers in the United Kingdom discovered a few years ago that supplementing with 300 mg of magnesium (in the form of magnesium citrate) decreased overnight or nocturnal leg cramps in people who suffered from chronic leg cramps. Potassium, like magnesium, is an electrolyte that may be found in your muscles. As a matter of fact, when your muscles contract, they cause potassium to be released into the surrounding tissue. A class of minerals known as electrolytes play a crucial role in the function of the muscles.
- As previously said, muscle cramps are common among pregnant women, and it’s not surprising considering that expecting moms have a high requirement for magnesium, and a lack of magnesium is one of the most compelling explanations about why pregnant women have muscle cramps.
- Both are necessary.
- Given this, as well as the importance of magnesium in muscular function, it seems sense to begin by addressing the underlying cause of a charley horse by addressing magnesium deficiencies.
- Although it is possible that a deficit is not the root problem, this simple remedy may make all the difference.
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.
By clicking here, you can purchase the elete Electrolyte add-in.
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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