What Are the Different Types of Charley Horse Treatment?

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  • Written By: Malcolm Tatum
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 25 February 2020
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"Charley horse" is a term commonly used to describe cramps or spasms that occur in the muscles of the leg. There are different causes for this type of muscle condition, with various treatments recommended for different situations. Among the more common charley horse treatment options are massage, the application of heat to the area, or the use of ice to help calm the spasms and relieve the pain.

Perhaps the most common example of a charley horse treatment is the use of massage. Simply kneading the muscles that have suddenly tightened and cramped can help to bring about relief in a matter of minutes. In some instances, stretching the leg after a brief period of massage will allow the muscles to relax further, alleviating the pain altogether. This combination can be used in just about any setting to bring about temporary relief, effectively allowing time to explore the underlying causes of the spasms and determine a more permanent solution.

The application of heat is also a common example of charley horse treatment. The use of a heating pad, or even immersing the leg in a warm bath will help to ease the cramping and allow the muscles to relax. When a heating pad is not available and taking a warm bath is not practical, the use of some type of muscle rub product containing capsicum or cayenne will often provide heat directly to the agitated leg muscles and begin to ease the pain.


With some causes for the spasms, the application of heat is not the best approach. This is particularly true if the cramps and muscle contractions are triggered by hit to the leg that causes trauma and leads to bruising. In this particular situation, the use of cold is the ideal charley horse treatment. The application of ice or some type of cold pack will help to reduce swelling and inflammation and reduce the incidence of muscle spasms.

While knowing the range of charley horse treatment options is a good idea, it is also important to address possible origins for the issue. A lack of potassium or calcium in the body may trigger the spasms. Dehydration or a change in the balance of hormones in the body can also create recurring bouts of muscle contractions or spasms in the leg muscles. There is even the potential that a recently prescribed medication could be the origin of the problem. If the spasms continue, work with a physician to identify the origin and take appropriate action to correct the underlying issue or issues.


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Post 3

@Mor - One thing I've always found to be true is that you can use the same trick whenever you get the hiccoughs.

They are the same kind of thing as leg cramps, they are just a muscle spasm of the lining that helps you to expand your lungs in order to breathe.

So, if you can figure out where that lining is, feeling it every time it contracts with a hiccough, and then relax it, holding it relaxed between the hiccoughs, they will stop.

It's hard to describe but really pay attention to them next time. I find most people can figure out how to do this.

I realized what was happening when I realized I would get the hiccoughs more often after running when my lungs were tired, and looked it up.

It's just like a charlie horse treatment, except for your lungs rather than your legs.

Post 2

@croydon - If your mother is having chronic cramps, she might have something else wrong with her, like a vitamin deficiency of some kind. I would encourage her to go and see a doctor for a checkup, rather than just trying to control the cramps when they happen.

Whenever it happens to me, I try my very hardest to relax the muscle. I know that sounds easier than it actually is, and a lot of people think it isn't possible, but it really is. You just need to really relax into the pain rather than tensing up around it and it will go away.

I find it gets easier to do that every time you do it because your body remembers

how it works and how to relieve the pain.

The only thing it doesn't work on is when you get a stitch, which we also called charlie horses when we were kids.

In that case you just need to stop moving for a while, since they only happen when you move too much after eating.

Post 1

Whenever my mother gets muscle cramps like this, I use massage to help her. She sometimes gets really bad cramps in her legs and often nothing will stop them. She'll be in real pain and will kind of panic, as the pain makes her tense up which makes the cramps worse.

Whenever it happens, I just start pressing down and rubbing the area, trying to dig my thumbs into the muscle. Often it doesn't help and might even hurt more for the first few minutes but eventually it always starts to feel better.

Then she walks around on it for a while, to try and prevent it from happening again.

She also takes an anti-inflammatory in order to try

and relieve some of the pain, although I don't think it helps to prevent the cramps themselves or anything.

She probably gets them because she doesn't exercise enough, so it is a good idea to try and exercise and stretch your muscles as much as possible.

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