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Welcome, USIMD.com medical contents search October 2, 2014
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Charley Horse

more about Charley Horse


Muscle spasm, tightness, contractions, or cramps

  • Muscle Cramps involves the painful contraction of various muscles, usually felt in the calf (behind the leg) or in the foot, but can occur anywhere in the body.

  • Cramps often occur after exercise, standing, or lying down for long periods of time.
  • Muscle Cramps usually last for only a few minutes.
  • May occur at nighttime during vigorous exercise

  • Strenuous and heavy exercise
  • Dehydration (i.e., lack of fluids)
  • Electrolytes imbalances (e.g., Potassium)
  • Muscle overuse and fatigue
  • Heat exhaustion
  • Vascular or circulation problems
  • Nerve compression or other neurological problems
  • Pregnancy

  • History of symptoms:
    1. Location
    2. Frequency
    3. Time of the cramp
    4. How long
    5. Aggravating factors (walking etc.)
    6. Relieving factors such as massaging or walking after a cramp
    7. Are there any other illnesses or symptoms?
    8. Physical examination and diagnostic tests may be necessary if cramps become frequent, or if they are associated with other symptoms.
    9. If these become persistent problems, the doctor may need to order tests:


  • Walking, gently stretching, and massaging the cramps often relieves spasms, especially at night or during exercise.
  • Stretching before exercise
  • Drink plenty fluids
  • Keep the muscles warm, especially in cold weather climates
  • Potassium, vitamin E, Calcium, zinc, Magnesium, and medications are often prescribed and helpful.

  • If the problem is recurring or associated with other symptoms, contact your doctor.

  • Muscle twitches -- i.e., tiny, repetitive, non-painful movements of a muscle (as in eyelids, arms, and legs) that are often benign and not associated with any disease.
  • Varicose Veins
  • Phlebitis
  • Thyroid disease




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