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Health Forum    Pain & Pain Management
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How to get rid of charlie horses (leg cramps)?
My mom is 62 yrs old and she gets a lot of charlie horses in her legs. She started getting charlie horses when she was working at a hotel as a housekeeper/room service but she is retired now. My question is what causes charlie horses and is there anything she can do or is there anything she can take to help with the charlie horses? Also should she be seeing a doctor regarding the charlie horses?

I think you got some terminology wrong, Charlie horse is when someone punches you really hard in the leg.

Nighttime Leg CrampsFont SizeA A A Topic Overview
Is this topic for you?

Nighttime leg cramps are different from another common nighttime leg problem called restless legs syndrome. With restless legs syndrome, your legs feel fidgety or crawly unless you move them. For more information, see the topic Restless Legs Syndrome.

What are nighttime leg cramps?

Nighttime (or nocturnal) leg cramps are usually sudden spasms, or tightening, of muscles in the calf. But the muscle cramps can sometimes happen in the thigh or the foot. They often occur just as you are falling asleep or waking up. These painful cramps can last a few seconds to a few minutes.

These leg cramps are also called charley horses.

What causes nighttime leg cramps?

Though nighttime leg cramps are common, experts don't know exactly what causes them. But most of the time it is not because of illness. Some of the things that may cause leg cramps include:

Getting too much exercise or overusing the muscles.
Standing on concrete for a long time, sitting for a long time, or putting your legs in awkward positions while you sleep.
Not having enough Potassium, Calcium, and other minerals in your blood.
Being dehydrated, which means your body has lost too much fluid.
Taking certain medicines, such as antipsychotics, diuretics, statins, and steroids.
Having flat feet.
Having Thyroid disease.
How can you stop a nighttime leg cramp when it happens?

You may need to try several different ways to stop a leg cramp before you find what works best for you. Here are some things you can try:

Walk around, or jiggle your leg.
Stretch your calf muscles. You can do this stretch while you sit or stand:
While sitting, straighten your leg and flex your foot up toward your knee. It may help to place a rolled towel under the ball of your foot and, while holding the towel at both ends, gently pull the towel toward you while keeping your knee straight.
While standing about 2 ft from a wall, lean forward against the wall. Keep the knee of the affected leg straight and the heel on the ground. Do this while you bend the knee of the other leg. See a picture of how to do this calf stretch.
These exercises stretch your calf muscles, and you will probably feel the leg cramp go away after a few minutes.
Some people find that a hot shower or a warm bath helps. Others get relief by rubbing the calf with an ice pack.
How can you prevent them?

Use these tips to help prevent nighttime leg cramps:

Drink plenty of water and other fluids during the day.
Limit or avoid drinks with alcohol or caffeine. These can can make you dehydrated, which means your body has lost too much fluid.
Make sure you are eating healthy foods (especially if you are pregnant) that are rich in Calcium, Potassium, and Magnesium.
Ride a stationary bike to condition and stretch your muscles.
Stretch your leg muscles for a few minutes before you go to bed.
Some people find that it helps to drink about 6 fl oz of tonic water, which contains a small amount of Quinine, each night.

If you are taking medicines that are known to cause leg cramps, your doctor may prescribe different medicines.

If your leg cramps bother you a lot, your doctor may prescribe medicines that calm leg nerves or relax the muscles.

What if nighttime leg cramps keep coming back?

Talk with your doctor if you have muscle cramps that keep coming back, are severe, or occur in other muscles of your body. These may be symptoms of another problem.

hope this helps click the link below to read more thanks

miss thing
eat bannans and drink water. use hot rags or something hot and put it on the cramping spot. and if things get worse go to the doc

Charlie horses are due to lack of Potassium. So have her eat at least 1-2 bananas every other day. Also, have her do calf stretches before she goes to bed at night and when she gets up in the morning. These will help her alot. If bananas give her gas, have her take a gas-x or Tums to relieve the problem. Hope this helps! If you don't see a significant difference within a few days, maybe she should see a physician in case it's a vascular problem since she is up in age!

Edi W
I've always heard to eat bananas and drink more water.

Megan O
Charlie horses are caused by poor blood circulation. When your mom feels one coming, tell her to straighten her leg and wiggle her toes. IT sounds crazy but it works, it forces the blood to continue flowing.

Miranda Girl
I have been told taking a Magnesium Supplement can work wonders.
Leg Cramps usually are a result of dehydration or low Magnesium. Make sure she is drinking lot's of water, too.
Good Luck.

Nurse Annie
Dehydration, excessive exercise, and use of diuretics can trigger or even worsen a charlie horse. When they occur, what she can do is stretch slowly, then massage her leg while pointing her toes upward. Stand up and gently put pressure on the affected leg. Cold or warm packs may also help. There are a number of things she can do to try and prevent them. One thing she can do is stretching before bed. While standing, place her hands on the wall, heels on the floor, lean toward the wall while bending one knee, and hold this position for ten seconds. Repeat with the other knee and repeat 5-7 times with each side. Make sure she is well hydrated, drinking 6-8cups a day. Electrolytes including sports drinks are best. Her doctor can prescribe medication if this happens frequently at night. It has also been reported that taking Vitamin E can help prevent leg cramps.

You are CORRECT...a "Charlie Horse" is a leg and/or foot cramp that is common after strenuous exercise. (never heard from poor circulation, though it can be associated with certain serious diseases such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and neuropathy.

Because of your Moms age, I would suggest she bring the frequent cramping to her Physicians attention...better to be safe, than sorry! :O)

I have also heard that eating bananas can prevent or lessen the occurrences, but not sure if such has been proven or not. Basically, they tell you to STRETCH and MASSAGE the affected muscles. Me...I HAVE to get UP and walk it out...and I swear by standing on my tippy toes!

Interestingly enough, a Charley Horse is also a N. American term for a bruising resulting from sports when one player hits the other...which is why the other poster probably thinks it is when someone intentionally slams a buddy...ouch! They would so not be my buddy any more!

Try the following website...and wish momma luck & well being! :O)

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