The Difference Between a Charley Horse and a Leg Cramp

Carol Roach By Carol Roach, 14th May 2015 | Follow this author | RSS Feed | Short URL
Posted in Wikinut>Health>General Health>Pain Management

If you ever experienced a Charlie horse you will know exactly what I am talking about,What makes a Charlie horse different from a leg cramp?


We started this mini series with the story of how I experienced a very painful charley horse while having my birthday supper in a restaurant with my boyfriend several years back. The following articles detailed the symptoms and causes of a Charley horse. Now we will conclude our series by talking about when it is time to seek medical help.

When to seek Medical Help

When to seek Medical Help

If cramping is reoccurring especially at night is important to see your doctor, who will take a medical history, physical exam, and run some blood tests to determine your electrolyte and potassium levels. The doctor will then suggest what to do based on his or her findings.

Think you got it all figured out?

Guess again! Dr. Steven Subotnick, D.P.M., a sports podiatrist in Hayward, California, and author of Sports and Exercise Injuries says the opposite. He says a Charley horse and a leg cramp are different. The leg cramp comes on gradually and is mostly the result of not enough blood supplied to the muscle. He says it usually occurs in the elderly.

He goes on to say that a Charley horse "comes more suddenly and isn't necessarily related to physical activity or using the muscle,"

But wait there is more, Dr. Hersh says, "heat treatment is not recommended initially for a Charley horse. Applying warmth can cause swelling or bring more blood to the muscle, which could increase the likelihood of calcification."

Different opinions by doctors

Dr. Subotnick, suggests taking either Vitamin E (but not for more than two weeks) or magnesium would help relieve the pain. He says a good source of magnesium comes from fish, especially halibut and mackerel, tofu, spinach, pumpkin seeds, and rice bran

He does agree with a massage of the affected muscle though.

So there you have it, I knew I had a Charley horse, because of the sudden pain but what caused it or how to avoid it is still up for grabs. One last thing, it wouldn't hurt eating if she ate more fish!

The The MD-Plus Medical Clinic is a private Montreal clinic catering to the treatment of leg cramps. There is a cost for the service but is useful for Montrealers who are disenchanted with our medicare service right now.

Previous link
What Causes a Charley Horse

All photos taken from the public domain
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Charley Horse, Charley Horse Cause, Charlie Horse, Leg Cramp

Meet the author

author avatar Carol Roach
Retired therapist and author of two books, freelance writer, newsletter editor, and blogger. I write, health, mental health, women's issues, animal , celebrity, history, and SEO articles.

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author avatar Retired
14th May 2015 (#)

What on earth is a Charley horse, and why is it so called? I have never heard this term before!

I get leg cramps because I reduce my salt intake as much as I can - which is not too difficult for me because I detest the taste of salt and never add it to my food. However, I am usually able to avoid leg cramps by drinking tonic water (which contains quinine) before I exercise.

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author avatar Carol Roach
15th May 2015 (#)

a charley horse is the name given to a a sharp sudden pain in the leg, not the other pain that takes pain that comes on gradually.

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author avatar Retired
15th May 2015 (#)

Carol, Is this a new discovery, and where did the name come from? It is a completely new term to me!

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author avatar Carol Roach
15th May 2015 (#)

here is the link I just found

I am not sure when it has been used as a medical term though

it may not be a medical term but it is widely used over here as one even by physicans

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author avatar Retired
15th May 2015 (#)

That 's very useful! I can see that this is therefore a North American term that derives from baseball, which is why a Brit would not be familiar with it. Presumably terms like "sticky wicket" and "hit for six" would be equally mysterious in non-cricket playing countries!

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