Charley Horse Muscle Cramps: Condition, Causes & Treatment

4,155 Views Updated: 31 Jul 2018
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Charley Horse Muscle Cramps: Condition, Causes & Treatment

What is Charley Horse? 

Charley Horse is a term given to the sudden spasms or cramps which occur mostly in the leg area. These cramps in the calf, thigh, and arch of the foot are the most painful ones. They occur mostly during the sleep hours and tend to awaken you. Skeletal muscles have the highest tendency for cramps. Involuntary in nature, the cramps are characterized by painful and abrupt muscle contractions. These contractions may last from several minutes to an entire day. Albeit it can occur at any age, Charley Horse is mostly found in the elderly and the athletes. However, the good thing is that these spasms have a variety of handy treatments you can try at home.

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What are its causes?

There may be different reasons behind these abrupt contractions. The external factors may include stressing out muscles excessively, insufficient blood flow, sitting for long hours, eschewing stretching before exercise, standing too long on a hard surface, or exercising in extremely hot or cold weather. There may also be certain internal causes behind these cramps. The internal causes include deficiency of calcium, potassium and/or sodium in blood, dehydration, obesity, low blood sugar etc.

 Also, persons on highly strong medication have a tendency to get the muscle cramps. Medications for high blood pressure, statins for high cholesterol may accelerate the chances of muscle contractions.

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How to get it treated?

The treatments may vary with the causes of muscle contraction. If you are getting spasms due to external factors, then certain stretches, massages, positions, or some home remedies are the best treatment options. Heating pads and ice pads can be used according to the kind of relief you need as a handy home remedy. Anti- inflammation medicine may be taken, on the recommendation of your doctor, if the spasm lasts longer.

In case the pain is recurrent, it may require an extensive treatment. For frequent cramps, a medical diagnose is required. Doctor may prescribe a stronger medication in case the Charley Horse gets regular. In rare occasions, a surgery may also be needed.

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Instant remedies to relieve the pain

You can control the damage by using particular massage and stretch hacks. As soon as the muscular pain begins, apply pressure with your hands directly over the affected area. Another immediate hack is to stand up with your weight on the cramped leg. In case you get a cramp while exercising, one immediate thing to do is to stop any further movement and gently hold your cramped muscle.

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Easy stretches to ease the contracted muscle

#1. The basic calf stretch- For this activity, stretch your arms towards a wall while placing your palms on it. While stretching out the affected leg, lean forward and push towards the wall.

#2. The towel stretch- This stretch is done in a sitting position using a long and supportive piece of cloth, like a towel or a necktie. While you stretch out your legs straight, you wrap a towel or any piece that you can find around your foot. Now slowly lift your leg enough to stretch out your muscles.

#3. Pulling your toe- You can also try holding your toes and pulling them towards you in order to relieve the contracted muscle.

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Daily hacks to prevent Charley Horse

Make stretching a part of your daily routine, especially before going to bed, in order to avoid the abrupt muscle contractions. Make sure that you stretch before and after exercise. It is imperative that the shoes you walk around in entire day are right for you. To keep the cramps distant, pick the shoes which are comfortable. Since dehydration can be a cause for Charley Horse, drink plenty of water throughout the day. Increasing your potassium intake is also imperative, in case that is the cause of the contractions.

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If you know any home-based treatment to this body condition, we would love to hear from you. Kindly use the comment box to share your thoughts and opinions with us.

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Any Other

I think there are a number of causes. For instance, an active person may experience cramps if he or she does not warm up properly. Heat, humidity, and dehydration are interrelated. If it is hot and humid, one must hydrate regularly with water and salts. Gatorade and elctrolyte-filled drinks will definitely help.

Too much exertion can also lead to cramps. Athletes, especially footballers, who play Extra Time (ET) generally experience cramps. The key is to be mindful. Stretch and hydrate if the legs feel tight. 

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