Charley Horse

Charley Horse

A charley horse is another term for a muscle spasm or cramp in the leg, typically in the calf muscle.


Charley horses can affect any muscle, but the most common places include the leg and foot muscles. The sudden tightening or contracting sensation, often described as “knotting,” can last a few seconds to several hours. Sometimes you can see the muscles contracting.


The most common causes of charley horses include:


  • Muscle fatigue and over-exertion
  • Dehydration
  • Mineral deficiency (usually not enough calcium, magnesium, potassium and/or Vitamin D)
  • Poor circulation
  • Diabetes
  • Obesity
  • Pregnancy and other conditions that cause hormonal imbalances
  • Certain medications
  • Uncomfortable or ill-fitting shoes
  • Thyroid gland imbalances
  • Pinched nerves
  • Age, with those over the age of 80 experiencing muscle cramps most often

Treatment and Prevention

The quickest methods to relieve cramped muscles include:


  • Squeezing and/or rubbing the affected muscle
  • Applying gentle weight on the muscle
  • Using a heating pad or warm foot soak to stimulate circulation
  • Taking an over-the-counter pain medication


The most effective ways to prevent charley horses include:


  • Staying hydrated by drinking lots of water throughout the day
  • Eating a balanced diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables
  • Avoiding sugar and caffeine
  • Wearing comfortable, supportive shoes
  • Massaging and stretching the muscles on a regular basis
  • Avoiding over-exertion during physical activity

Notice concerning medical entries:

Articles having medical content shall serve exclusively for the purpose of general information. Such articles are not suitable for any (self-) diagnosis and treatment of individual illnesses and medical indications. In particular, they cannot substitute for the examination, advice, or treatment by a licensed physician or pharmacist. No replies to any individual questions shall be effected through the articles.