Charlie horse is the name given to a muscle spasm or cramp experienced by an individual, especially in the leg. The most probable area where Charlie horse strikes is the calf region and that too, at night, lasting for a few seconds to few hours, thus awakening the patient. However, charley horse can target other parts of the body as well; one can get it in the arch of the feet or in the thighs. In case of such a spasm, the concerned muscle contracts and cramps, without any slightest indication beforehand. The spasm is very painful and locks the particular muscle in a contracted position. The pain experienced during Charley horses is so sudden and intense that you lose complete control over the muscle and find it next to impossible to use it. You feel that your muscles have been tied up and the pain gets throbbing. To know what causes charley horse, continue surfing through the following text.
Reasons Behind Charley Horse
Often people have been found wondering why they get Charley horse i.e. what are the reasons behind its occurrence. In the following lines, we have tried to provide an answer for the same.
- In most of the cases, Charlie horses are the late responses of overstraining a muscle during exercise, or otherwise.
- Charley horse might be the result of an electrolyte or mineral imbalance in the body.
- In some of the cases, Charlie horses have been found to be a signal of the onset of a vascular disease.
- At times, kidney dialysis has lead to the occurrence of Charley horse in the muscles.
- Low levels of minerals, such as sodium, magnesium or potassium, in the body can be one of the reasons for Charlie horses.
- Deficiency of calcium in pregnant women can also be another reason for the onset of Charley horse.
- Low level of liquids in the body, while exercising, might be a probable cause of Charley horse.
- Some spasms, especially in the neck area, might be the result of taking too much stress.
- Charley horses in the upper leg are mainly caused by activities like running or jumping.
- Some of the spasms occur because of the irritation of the nerve that connects to a muscle.
- The most common type of Charley horse, found in the calf region, is often the result of kicking while swimming.
- Certain medications can also cause Charley horse as a result of their side effects. Drugs such as statins or medicines prescribed for lowering cholesterol, blood pressure, diuretics, asthma medicines like terbutaline and salbutamol, morphine and lithium can trigger muscle spasms.
- Some other possible causes of nighttime muscle cramps can be prolonged sitting, certain leg positions while being inactive, standing on hard surfaces, poor physical condition, and inadequate stretching.
When you are encountered with a Charley horse, you can do certain things to relax the muscle and reduce discomfort.
- Stop all your activities immediately after you get the first sign of a muscle spasm in the calf or in the back of the thigh. Stretch and massage the affected muscle in the opposite direction of the spasm. The heat, so generated, will provide relaxation to the muscle.
- For a Charley horse that occurred in the front of the thigh, make yourself steady by holding onto a chair and pulling your foot back towards your buttock.
- You can also take a hot water shower or bath to bring warmth and relaxation to the affected muscle.
To prevent the risk of Charley horse, you need to
- Keep yourself hydrated by consuming enough fluids throughout the day.
- Consume a well-balanced diet rich in vitamins, potassium, magnesium and calcium.
- Stretch properly before exercising to relax the muscle fibers.
- Avoid sudden increases and changes in activities.
If Charley horses continue to persist and bother you, it’s advised to see a health care practitioner to diagnose the correct cause and deduce its best cure.