I get charlie horses in my legs almost every night. Sometimes during the day, but they are more random during the day. They last anywhere from 20 seconds to 15 mintues and vary from slight to very severe. So bad sometimes that I can't move and can only cry out in pain. Most of the time they wake me in the middle of the night. I also find that if I've had a bad one I can feel it in my leg all day. I haven't started doing anything different and I've been getting them for months and months. I'm not sure of how I can prevent them or if I'm doing something wrong. I also sometimes just get random muscle spasms, that come on at random through out the day. And if I fully stretch my legs out it usually causes one. What can I do?
According to Wikipedia, a charley horse is "a popular North American colloquial term for painful spasms or cramps in the leg muscles, typically lasting anywhere from a few seconds to a few hours. It can also refer to a bruising of the quadriceps muscle of the anterior or lateral thigh, or contusion of the femur, that commonly results in a hematoma and sometimes several weeks of pain and disability. Such an injury is known in the United Kingdom and many Commonwealth countries (and also in the U.S.) as a dead leg, granddaddy, or chopper. In Australia it is also known as a corked thigh or "corky." It often occurs in sports when an athlete is struck by an opponent's knee, in a manner like the kick of a horse, perhaps the reason for its name.
Another nuance for the term charley horse is used to describe simple, painful, muscle cramps in the leg or foot, especially those that follow strenuous exercise. These muscle cramps can have many possible causes including hormonal imbalances, dehydration, low levels of potassium or calcium in the blood, side effects of medication, or, more seriously, diseases such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and neuropathy. They are also a common complaint during pregnancy or for the elderly."
While this condition may not be serious, I think I would get this examined by a doctor just to be safe. I know a family friend who thought he was dealing with a charley horse but it later turned out to be an aneurysm. If it is a simple charley horse then there are a number of things you can do. These would include gentle massage of the area, hydrotherapy, and ice packs. These can help immensely. Also supplements of magnesium, copper, and potassium are indicated.
Cayenne is also a good herbal to consider. Magnesium is a powerful mineral that relaxes the muscles, prevents cramps and muscle spasms, and provides oxygen to the blood and cells. Copper strengthens veins and arteries. Potassium is needed for proper nerve function and fluid balance. Cayenne is a stimulant and moves blood which speeds healing. Hydrotherapy (alternate use of hot and cold water) also speeds healing by moving blood. Ice packs reduce pain and stop swelling; in some cases it can completely stop swelling. The sooner ice packs are applied to contusions and swollen tissue the greater the chance of reducing the swelling and the pain.
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