Three Things You May Not Know About the Charley Horse

Category: Physical Therapy, Pinched Nerve

One of the most painful types of muscle spasms you will ever experience is called the charley horse. This involuntary muscle cramp typically affects the lower leg in the calf muscle. It can also affect the muscles of the thigh. A charley horse can last a few seconds or as long as fifteen minutes. You may have already experienced the excruciating pain of one, but here are a few interesting facts you may not know about it.

Origins of the Term
Though the exact origins of the term charley horse are not clear, most sources cite a relationship with baseball. In one theory, a lame horse named Charley was used by the ballfield grounds crew in Chicago during the late 1800s. As the story goes, when a player was injured, teammates would refer to him as Charley the horse. An alternate theory cites the nickname of a pitcher as being the basis for the term. “Old Hoss” was the nickname of a pitcher named Charley. He got a severe leg cramp as he ran the bases one day and had to limp to home plate. Another player asked, “What’s the matter Charley Hoss?” and the rest is history.

Dehydration Can Cause a Charley Horse
If you are not drinking enough water, you may be setting yourself up for a charley horse or other muscle spasms. Dehydration can lower your potassium levels causing you to become more susceptible to leg cramps. Older adults can easily become dehydrated without realizing it. Low levels of electrolytes such as magnesium, potassium or calcium contribute to the spasms. Plenty of water adds volume to the blood, keeps the body hydrated and lowers your risk for muscle spasms.

Bruising Can Happen with Muscle Spasms
Even though it does not happen often, bruising of the skin can happen if a muscle spasm is severe enough and lasts long enough. Charley horse muscles spasms can produce enough pain to cause bruising and discomfort that can last for days after the spasm is over.

Generally, the charley horse will resolve after a few minutes and though painful, it is not usually a problem that requires a doctor’s care. However, if you experience frequent charley horses or very severe episodes, you should check in with a doctor. In some instances, frequent muscle spasms are due to a pinched nerve.

At Sovereign Rehab Center, we provide effective treatment for individuals who have a pinched nerve. Our individualized patient-centered care ensures that you will receive the appropriate treatment to help you feel better fast. Contact us for the best in physical therapy outcomes.

Posted on behalf of Sovereign Rehabilitation

Sovereign Rehabilitation – Atlanta Physical Therapist
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