Charley horse is another name for a muscle spasm. Charley horses can occur in virtually any muscle, but they are most common in the legs. However, frequent muscle spasms are often linked to underlying health conditions that need medical treatment.
- A number of factors may cause a muscle to cramp or spasm. The most common causes of charley horses include:
- inadequate blood flow to the muscle
- muscle injuries
- exercising in excessive heat or cold
- overuse of a specific muscle during exercise
- stress (most often in the neck muscles)
- not stretching before exercise
- nerve compression in the spine
- taking diuretics (often prescribed for high blood pressure), which can lead to low potassium levels
- mineral depletion (too little calcium, potassium, and sodium in the blood)
- Muscle spasms can happen to anyone, at any age. To make matters worse, a charley horse can occur at any time—day or night. The spasms may even wake you up in the middle of the night.Still, charley horses tend to occur more often in
- the elderly
- the obese
- Once you have identified the cause of the occasional charley horse, the symptoms are generally easy to prevent. Take these steps to help avoid future muscle spasms:
- Stretch before and after exercise.
- Avoid exercising the same muscles on consecutive days.
- Do not exercise in severe weather.
- Drink water throughout the day.
- Drink electrolyte-containing beverages, such as Gatorade.
- Stretch before going to bed.
Source: Healthline, http://www.healthline.com/health/charley-horse#AlternativeTreatments6