A charley horse is a muscle spasm — when a muscle suddenly tightens up on its own. These cramps can happen anywhere in your body. They’re common in your legs.
What is 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.
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.
What happens during a charley horse?
Scientists understand that a charley horse occurs when muscles suddenly cramp or tighten, resulting in pain. The condition most typically happens in the calf muscle at the back of the lower leg. The sudden and uncontrollable spasm is often brief, but it can last up to 10 minutes.
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 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.
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.
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.
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 charley horses happen at night?
Many people experience charley horses during sleeping hours and are awakened because of them. Muscle spasms that cause charley horses while you sleep are common. However, why these nighttime spams occur isn’t entirely understood. It’s believed that lying in bed in an awkward position for a long time plays a role.
What are 5 common causes of muscle cramps?
What causes muscle cramps?
- Straining or overusing a muscle.
- Compression of your nerves, from problems such as a spinal cord injury or a pinched nerve in the neck or back.
- Low levels of electrolytes such as magnesium, potassium, or calcium.
- Not enough blood getting to your muscles.
- Certain medicines.
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.
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.
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.
What do leg cramps at night mean?
In general, night leg cramps are likely to be related to muscle fatigue and nerve problems. The risk of having night leg cramps increases with age. Pregnant women also have a higher likelihood of having night leg cramps.
How do I stop leg cramps at night?
How to stop leg cramps at night
- Drink plenty of fluids. Fluids allow for normal muscle function.
- Stretch your legs.
- Ride a stationary bike.
- Change your sleeping position.
- Avoid heavy or tucked-in bedding.
- Choose supportive footwear.
Charley horse (also known as Acharley) is a muscle spasm, which occurs when a muscle contracts up on its own without any external stimulus. Muscle cramps can occur anywhere on your body at any time. They’re rather frequent in the legs.
Charley Horse Causes
Among the things that might set off a charley horse are:
- Excessive muscular contractions due to poor blood supply Notstretchingenough
- Involvement in physical activities in hot heat
- A deficiency in magnesium and/or potassium in your diet A spinal cord injury or a pinched nerve in your neck or back are examples of such problems. Diabetic nephropathy
Muscle cramps are also a side effect of various medications, such as those listed below:
- Diuretics (often known as “water pills”) are medications that remove fluid from your body, such as furosemide (Lasix), hydrochlorothiazide (Microzide), and others. It is used to treat Alzheimer’s disease. Donepezil (Aricept) is a medication. Neostigmine (Prostigmine), which is used to treat myasthenia gravis
- Nifedipine (Procardia), which is used to treat angina and excessive blood pressure
- And other medications. Raloxifene (Evista), a drug used to treat osteoporosis. Medications for asthma, include terbutaline (Brethine) and albuterol (Proventil, Ventolin)
- Tolcapone (Tasmar), which is used to treat Parkinson’s disease. cholesterol-lowering statins such as atorvastatin (Lipitor), fluvastatin (Lescol), lovastatin (Mevacor), pravastatin (Pravachol), rosuvastatin (Crestor), or simvastatin (Zocor)
- Statins for diabetes
- Statins for high blood pressure
Charley Horse Risk Factors
Certain persons are more prone to getting charley horses than others:
- Overweight or obese people over the age of 50
- Athletes, pregnant women, and pregnant women Those who suffer from illnesses such as diabetes, thyroid, liver, or nervous system problems
Charley Horse Diagnosis
There is no need to visit your doctor unless you have a charley horse in addition to one of the following conditions:
- Vomiting, diarrhea, or excessive sweating (which can promote dehydration) are all possible symptoms. Overindulging in alcoholic beverages
Your symptoms and medical history will be discussed with you by your doctor. They’ll also do a physical examination. They may conduct blood tests, muscle testing, or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) studies to rule out a medical issue that is causing the cramping.
Charley Horse Treatment
If you get a charley horse in your calf or in the back of your thigh (hamstring), place your weight on the afflicted leg and gently bend your knees to relieve the discomfort. Alternatively, you can sit or lie down with your leg out straight and lift the top of your foot towards your head. Holding on to a chair while bending the knee of the afflicted leg will relieve a cramp in the front of your thigh (quadriceps). Pulling your foot up near your buttock will help you feel more comfortable. Massage, an Epsom salt bath, or the use of a heating pad can all help to relax the muscle.
Most of the time, the charley horse will come to a halt within a few minutes.
Charley Horse Prevention
Preventing cramps from occurring in the first place:
- Eat more meals that are high in vitamin C and magnesium
- Drink plenty of water
- And stretch before and after exercise. Stretching before exercise can assist to prevent tense muscles throughout the workout session. Cramping caused by other factors can be alleviated by daily stretching.
- Put on a pair of comfy shoes. Limit the amount of alcoholic beverages you consume
- Increase your physical activity gradually rather than all at once. Don’t exercise straight after eating
- Don’t smoke
- Don’t drink alcohol right after eating.
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.
The majority of the time, self-care procedures may be used to cure muscular cramps at home.
The majority of muscular cramps occur in the leg muscles, notably in the calf muscles. Besides feeling or seeing a mass of muscle tissue beneath your skin, you may also experience or notice a quick, acute 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.
- 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
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 : MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia
A charley horse is a term used to describe a muscular spasm or cramp in general. Muscle spasms can occur in any muscle in the body, although they are most frequently experienced in the leg muscles. When a muscle is in spasm, it contracts and does not relax, despite your efforts to regulate it. Muscle spasms are common when a muscle is overworked or damaged, and they are painful. A muscular spasm can be triggered by a variety of factors, including:
- Taking part in physical activity while you haven’t had enough fluids (you’re dehydrated)
- Having low mineral concentrations, such as potassium or calcium
Some spasms arise as a result of irritation to the nerve that links a muscle to another muscle. As an illustration, consider the case of a herniated disk that produces irritation of the spinal nerves, as well as discomfort and spasm in the back muscles. Spasms in the calf are common during swimming or running and occur when the leg is kicked. They can also occur during the night while you are sleeping. Upper leg spasms are more likely when participating in sports such as running or leaping. Stress can cause spasms in the neck (cervical spine), which can be painful.
- It is referred to as a knot in some circles.
- Muscle spasms are diagnosed by looking for tight or firm muscles that are painful to the touch, as indicated by your health care practitioner.
- A magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan may be useful in determining whether or not the spasm is caused by nerve irritation, such as that in the back.
- At first, heat will help to relax the muscle.
- If the muscle is still uncomfortable after applying heat and ice, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs) can be used to alleviate the discomfort.
- After you’ve been treated, your healthcare professional should investigate the origin of the spasm to ensure that it doesn’t recur.
- If you exercise and consume water or sports drinks, it might assist to alleviate cramps caused by dehydration.
- Muscle spasms will subside over time as a result of rest and relaxation.
- Spasms can be prevented from happening on a regular basis by learning how to exercise effectively with the necessary training and adequate hydration intake.
If the spasm was triggered by an inflamed nerve, you may require further therapy. The outcomes of these therapies might be unpredictable. If any of the following apply, contact your service provider:
- You’re suffering from a severe muscular spasm and terrible agony. You are experiencing weakness as a result of your muscular spasm. You are experiencing a muscular spasm that will not quit and is spreading to other places of your body
Your physician can assist you in changing your exercise regimen to lessen the likelihood of future spasms, even if they are not severe at the time. Among the things you may take to reduce your chances of getting muscular cramps are the following:
- Flexibility exercises can help you become more flexible
- Changing up your routines can help you stay within your capabilities
- Increase your potassium intake and drink lots of water when you’re working out. Fruits such as orange juice and bananas are excellent sources of potassium.
Geiderman JM, Katz D. General concepts of orthopedic injuries. New York: Springer-Verlag, 1989. Walls RM, Hockberger RS, and Gausche-Hill M (eds.). In: Walls RM, Hockberger RS, and Gausche-Hill M (eds.). Rosen’s Emergency Medicine: Concepts and Clinical Practice (Rosen’s Emergency Medicine: Concepts and Clinical Practice). Elsevier, 9th edition, Philadelphia, PA, 2018:chap 42. D. Wang, C. Eliasberg, and S. A. Rodeo. The physiology and pathology of the musculoskeletal tissues are covered in detail.
Elsevier, Philadelphia, PA, 2020:chap 1 of the 5th edition.
Vorvick, MD, Clinical Associate Professor, Department of Family Medicine, University of Washington Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle, WA, provided the most recent update.
Editorial staff examined the manuscript for accuracy.
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:
- Cramping due to dehydration: “If you’re feeling cramping, it’s vital to check your hydration first,” Dr. Lewis advises patients. Drink plenty of water throughout the day to keep your body hydrated. Complications arising from poor nutrition: While a proper electrolyte balance (a balance of calcium, sodium, potassium, and magnesium) is necessary for the contraction and relaxation of a muscle, it is not recommended that you self-treat with supplements. As an alternative, Dr. Lewis recommends consuming a range of meals, including lots of colorful fruits and vegetables, such as leafy greens and bananas, in order to ensure that your diet has a balanced amount of electrolytes. Leg cramps are a side effect of several drugs, including statins and diuretics, which can be quite uncomfortable. When cramps appear unexpectedly after you begin taking a new drug, this is a red flag to look out for. If this occurs, notify your healthcare practitioner immediately. Not putting up enough effort: Taking some time each day to stretch might be beneficial. Physicist Dr. Lewis explains that you want your muscles to be as powerful and supple as possible. In order to do this, adequate stretching following a brief warm-up time or after a shower is essential.
- Exercise too hard: If you exercise too hard or have muscular exhaustion, this might result in cramping. Poor circulation: If you are experiencing cramps that grows worse as you walk, it is possible that you have a circulation problem. “Cramping discomfort is a symptom of several circulatory disorders.” According to Dr. Lewis, “If the pain grows worse as you walk, or if you get cramps that won’t go away, you should visit your primary care physician immediately.” The incorrect footwear: Muscle cramps can be caused by a variety of factors, including your footwear. Doctor Lewis advises checking your shoes, especially if you’ve switched from flats to heels, because this can also induce cramping.
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.
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. This is due in part to the fact that muscular cramps can occur for a variety of causes. 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. When a person is suffering from a charley horse, the following actions may be of assistance in alleviating their symptoms:
- 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.
Muscle Cramps (Charley Horse) and Muscle Spasm Remedies
Changing up your workout routines, staying hydrated, and stretching are all effective ways to reduce the likelihood of getting muscular cramps. Warm up by jogging or walking at a fast speed for a few minutes before stretching the calves, hamstrings, and quadriceps muscles. Maintaining enough electrolyte levels will also be beneficial. Sodium and potassium are lost through sweating during exercise, which is especially true in hot weather and with considerable perspiration. Sports drinks can assist with sodium and potassium replenishment.
- Getty Images
- “Muscle Cramps,” according to the AAOS. “Leg Cramps, Causes, and Treatments,” according to the NHS Inform website, published in June 2017. American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons: “Muscle Cramp.” American Academy Physician: “AAN Recommendations on Symptomatic Treatment for Muscle Cramps.” American Family Physician: “Nocturnal Leg Cramps.” April 2, 2021
- American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons: “Muscle Cramp.” “Muscle Cramp – A Common Pain,” according to the American Osteopathic Association. “The Athlete With Muscular Cramps: A Clinical Approach,” published in the Journal of the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons. “Muscle Types,” according to the National Cancer Institute.
- National Institute of Mental Health: “What Is Generalized Anxiety Disorder?”
- National Institute of Mental Health: “What Is Panic Disorder?” The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Pregnancy has a page on “Muscle Cramps.” The University of Maryland Medical Center also has a page on “Muscle Cramps.”
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Charley horse – Wikipedia
This page refers to the page on “dead leg” in engineering. A “dead leg” is a redundant length of pipe through which flow is impossible because one end of the pipe is shut. Cramping in the legs and/or foot caused by a charley horse can last anywhere from a few seconds to many days. It was once used to refer to bruising of the quadriceps muscle of the anterior or lateral thigh, or concussion of the femur, which usually leads in a haematoma and, in some cases, several weeks of discomfort and impairment.
Such an injury is referred to as a “dead leg” in this later sense.
A charley horse is characterized by muscular contractions that occur without notice and can continue anywhere from a few seconds to many days.
It is common in contact sports such as football for athletes to sustain a knee injury to the lateral quadriceps, which causes a haematoma or transient paresis, as well as analgic gaitas as a result of the discomfort.
In addition to hormone imbalances and dehydration (the evidence for which has been mixed), they may also be caused by drug side effects or, more gravely, illnesses such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and neuropathy (which have been linked to low magnesium, potassium, and calcium levels). They are also a typical complaint among women who are expecting a child.
Using the opposite direction of the cramp to massage or stretch the leg and/or foot might provide relief. Standing up can also provide relief since it counteracts the signal that causes the muscles to tense.
- To find out more about the origin of the term “Charley Horse,” see Shulman D (1949), American Speech 24(2): 100–104, doi: 10.2307/486616.JSTOR486616
- Tonbridge SV (n.d). (1950). The Return of the “Charley Horse””.American Speech.25(1): 70
- Woolf HB (1973). “Mencken as Etymologist: Charley Horse and Lobster Trick.” American Speech.48(3/4): 229–238.doi: 10.2307/3087830.JSTOR3087830
- “Mencken as Etymologist: Charley Horse and Lobster Trick.”
It’s possible that you’re going to fall asleep or that you’re about to wake up. Your calf muscle goes into spasm and won’t let go — it contracts into a rock-hard mass, and you’re trapped in the grip of intense pain. This happens without any apparent reason. Experiencing a muscle cramp, often known as a Charley horse, can be terrifying and devastating for those who have never had one before.
What Is a Charley Horse?
The term “charley horse” refers to an involuntary muscular cramp, spasm, or contraction that occurs without the use of voluntary muscles. Although the word is typically used to refer to a muscular spasm in the back of the calf at night, it can occur in any muscle in your body at any time of day. It is possible to have a Charley horse because neurons from your spinal cord encourage the muscle to continue contracting. After all, who exactly is Charley, and what exactly is the big deal about his horse?
One legend is that the grounds crew in Chicago utilized a lame horse named Charley at some point in the late 1880s or early 1900s.
Another legend has it that a pitcher called Charles was given the nickname “Old Hoss” because of his age.
A fellow player approached him as he staggered near home plate and said, “What’s up with you, Charley Hoss?”
What Causes a Charley Horse?
The actual reason for a Charley horse’s appearance is not always known. However, muscular damage and overuse are two of the most prevalent causes – for example, you may not have stretched correctly before working out or you may not be adequately hydrated. Leg cramps can also be caused by low blood levels of important minerals such as potassium, calcium, or magnesium, and somediuretic drugs that deplete the body of potassium might make you more prone. An inflamed nerve anywhere in your body may be the source of your Charley horse in some circumstances.
Additionally, as you grow older, you are more prone to experience cramps since your muscles are no longer accustomed to working as hard or as quickly as they once did.
Treating a Charley Horse
Charley horse cramps normally subside on their own, without the need for medical intervention. Stop doing whatever you’re doing as soon as you notice a cramp coming on. Massage your muscle and stretch it slowly, holding the stretch for as long as it takes to relieve the cramp. In the case of calf cramping, bend your foot (with the toes directed toward you) and maintain it flexed until the spasm is relieved. Applying heat to your muscles might assist to relieve muscle tension. Your muscles will be sore for a few days after you’ve survived your adventure.
What is the best way to avoid becoming a Charley horse?
Also, remember to stay hydrated at all times, but especially when engaging in vigorous physical activity.
On rare circumstances, they may, however, be a symptom of a more serious problem that necessitates medical intervention and treatment.
Seeing a doctor if your Charley horses are accompanied by significant discomfort or weakness, are becoming more frequent (even if they are not unpleasant), are not getting better with self-care, and do not appear to be caused by overuse or effort is highly recommended.
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.
Coping with Muscle Cramps
alleviation of discomfort
Coping with muscle cramps: Why you don’t have to live with this common pain
Learn how basic self-care practices, such as moderate stretching, can help to alleviate the symptoms of chronic pain. Have you ever woken up in the middle of the night because of a muscular cramp? In the middle of anything you were doing, it halted you in your tracks. The condition known as muscular cramps, or “charley horses,” as it is commonly referred to, is exceedingly prevalent and occurs when muscles tense involuntarily and are unable to release. Cramping is particularly common in the calves, thighs, and arch of the foot, which are all sensitive areas.
osteopathic physician Carolyn Quist, DO, of Fort Worth, Texas, says that cramps may affect any muscle under your control.
According to the American College of Sports Medicine, when a person suffers from a muscle cramp, the muscle in question feels tougher to the touch than usual and may even display obvious symptoms of muscular twitching.
They will listen to you and work with you to help avoid damage and support your body’s natural capacity to self-repair in order to help you heal.
Muscle cramps may strike anybody, at any time, and from any location. “There is no one who is immune,” Dr. Quist adds. When it comes to developing a muscle cramp, it doesn’t matter if you’re young or elderly, active or inactive; you might be doing just about anything. Dr. Quist, on the other hand, points out that newborns, the elderly, the obese, and athletes are at the highest risk of developing muscular cramps. According to Dr. Quist, the following are some of the most prevalent causes of muscular cramps:
- Stretching insufficiently before to physical activity Exercising in the sweltering heat
- Muscle exhaustion
Athletes who become weary and dehydrated while participating in warm-weather activities are more likely to have muscular cramps than others. As Dr. Quist explains, “Imbalances in the levels of electrolytes in the blood,” such as the amounts of sodium and potassium in the blood as well as chloride, calcium, and phosphate, can also cause muscular cramps.
Treating muscle cramps
Fortunately, muscular cramps normally subside within minutes and do not necessitate seeking medical assistance in most cases. Here are a few things you may do to alleviate your symptoms:
- Put an end to whatever it was that caused the cramp. Keep your cramping muscle in a stretched posture for as long as possible, then gently stretch and massage it until the cramping ceases. If you have a calf cramp, place your weight on the leg that is affected and gently bend your knee. Try bringing the top of your foot on the afflicted side toward your head while your leg is in a straightened posture if you’re unable to get up. A back thigh (hamstring) tightness will be alleviated as a result of this. Try to move your foot on the afflicted side near your buttock when sitting in a chair to alleviate a front thigh cramp (quadriceps spasm). Heat should be applied to tense/tight muscles, while ice should be used to sore/tender muscles.
As Dr. Quist points out, if your cramps are severe, occur frequently, do not react well to basic therapies, or are not associated with apparent reasons such as intense activity, you should visit a doctor right once. It’s possible that they’re an indication of a problem with the circulatory system, nerves, metabolism, hormones, drugs, or diet, according to the expert. Muscular cramps may be avoided by performing flexibility exercises before and after your workout to stretch the muscle parts that are most prone to cramping, as well as by drinking lots of fluids throughout the day.
If you believe your muscle cramps are too frequent and severe to be normal, it’s recommended to consult with your doctor for a diagnosis and treatment options.
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. For example, a drummer who performs outside during a summer event may get hand cramps after the performance. 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.
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.
Many people have reported that when they take a magnesium supplement, their leg cramps disappear, as long as they remember to take it on a regular basis. 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.
Related article: Liquid trace minerals – How to Determine the Quality of a Mineral Supplement.
- 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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