A charley horse can be caused by a direct blow or sudden stretch of the muscle, but most of the time they’re caused by strain or fatigue during exercise.
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.
If you have a cramp, these actions may provide relief:
Muscle cramps are usually harmless and don’t require medical attention. However, you should see a doctor if your muscle cramps are severe, don’t improve with stretching, or persist for a long time. This could be a sign of an underlying medical condition.
These spasms are marked by uncomfortable muscle contractions. If the contracting muscles don’t relax for several seconds or more, the pain can be severe. Severe charley horses can result in muscle soreness that lasts anywhere from a few hours to a day. This is normal, so long as the pain isn’t prolonged or recurring.
A DVT blood clot can cause a calf cramp that feels a lot like a charley horse. Like leg pain, the cramping sensation with DVT will persist and even worsen with time. It won’t clear up with stretching or walking it off like an ordinary charley horse.
Some simple things you might keep you from getting cramps:
See your doctor as soon as possible if you have:
A leg that is swollen, pale or unusually cool. Calf pain, particularly after prolonged sitting, such as on a long car trip or plane ride. Swelling in both legs along with breathing problems. Any serious leg symptoms that develop for no apparent reason.
Foods That May Help With Muscle Cramps
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.
The answer is yes. Poor circulation in the legs’ arteries can be a sign of poor circulation in heart arteries. A person having leg cramps, not being able to walk as much or having pain in the legs at rest must be tested for poor circulation or Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD).
Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) occurs when a blood clot forms in one of the deep veins of your body, usually in your legs, but sometimes in your arm. The signs and symptoms of a DVT include: Swelling, usually in one leg (or arm) Leg pain or tenderness often described as a cramp or Charley horse.
Nighttime leg cramps may be related to foot position. We often sleep with our feet and toes extending away from the rest of our bodies, a position called plantar flexion. This shortens the calf muscles, making them more susceptible to cramping.
Magnesium is a widely used remedy for leg cramps.