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You Can’t Trot Away from a Charley Horse Atlanta, GA
Woman Grasping Knee in Pain

When you have a muscle spasm in your leg that brings excruciating pain, you have a Charley horse. Nerves from the spinal cord stimulate the muscle so it keeps contracting. It can get rock hard and completely cripple you while you are in its clutches. It seems there is very little you can do to get the muscle to relax until it decides to do so on its own.

The term Charley horse has unclear origins, though they seem to come from baseball. In the late 1880s, the grounds crew in Chicago used a lame horse named Charley. When a player was injured, teammates would refer to him as Charley the Horse. In a different theory, a pitcher whose given name was Charles was called “Old Hoss” for his nickname. The story goes that Old Hoss was running the bases one day when he got a leg cramp. Another player asked, “What’s the matter Charley Hoss?” as the player limped toward home plate.

Causes of a Charley Horse

Muscle injury or overuse of muscles can cause a Charley horse to develop. Therefore, it is important to warm up and cool down properly. Stretching before and after a workout is important. It is also important to stay hydrated before, during and after. Depletion of crucial minerals can lead to severe muscle spasms.

Potassium, calcium and magnesium are important key minerals the body needs. When one of these is in short supply in the blood, muscle cramps can be triggered. If you take diuretic medications, be aware that your potassium level can be lowered, and you become more vulnerable to leg cramps.

Another possible cause of a Charley horse is an irritated nerve in the body. Wearing high heels can trigger leg cramps. Age is also a factor. As you get older, your muscles are not accustomed to working as hard as in your youth, and they do not respond as well.

Charley Horse Treatment

In most instances, you can wait it out. The pain resolves on its own after a few minutes. If you feel your muscle begin to spasm, stop the activity and massage the muscle. Stretch it slowly and keep it stretched until the spasm begins to fade. You can also apply heat to tight muscles. Ease the pain of a sore muscle with a cold pack.

You should see a doctor if you have frequent muscle spasms or if they do not get better with self-care. Seek medical attention if the spasms do not seem to be caused by overuse or exertion. This could be a sign of a serious medical condition.

The specialists at Ortho Sport & Spine Physicians can help you find relief from your leg pain. Contact us to schedule an appointment and let us help you feel better quickly.

Posted on behalf of Ortho Sport & Spine Physicians

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