Charley Horse - Dream Health

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Friday, 4 April 2014

Charley Horse

Charley Horse – One Horse no one would want

Charley Horse is a common name for muscle spasm which can occur in the body especially in the thigh, calf and feet with painful cramping of the muscles that can happen at any time making the person to stop in the middle of any activity.

When the spasm takes place, it contracts without control and does not relax. This happens when a muscle is overused or injured. Some spasms may occur when the nerve connecting to the muscle is irritated.

Spasms in the calf often takes place while kicking during swimming or it can also occur while in bed at night and when it happens, the muscles of the calf of foot may suddenly become hard and tight making it very painful. When the muscle gets into spasm, the person experiences a feeling of tightness which could be described like a knot and the pain could be very severe.

Upper leg spasm is common while running or in jumping activities while spasm in the neck or cervical spine could be due to stress. Causes of spasms may include exercising when the fluid intake is not sufficient or having low levels of minerals like potassium or calcium in the body or it could also occur as side effects of some drugs taken during medication.

Treating Muscle Spasms

Treating muscle spasms can be done by stopping the activity and trying stretching or massaging the affected muscle at the first sign of a spasm to help in reducing the pressure and the painful cramping. Pressure should be medium using the thumbs and fingertips in a circular movement at both the direct areas of pain and above it to improve the circulation.

This could be continued for a few minutes till the pain subsides or if desired you could move to another form of treatment. Heat can also relax the muscle at first while ice can be helpful after the first spasm and when the pain has improved considerably. If the pain tends to be sore after heat and ice treatment, one can use non steroidal anti-inflammatory medicines to ease the pain.

 In more severe cases, the health physician should be consulted for treatment of the same. Before exercising, drinking water or sports drink could also be helpful to ease cramps due to dehydration. At times drinking water alone would not be enough, hence salt tablets or sports drinks could help to replace the minerals lacking in the body.

Self Care Measures 

To diagnose a spasm, the physician could check for tight or hard muscles which could be tender to the touch since there are no blood test or imaging for this ailment. If the spasm is caused due to nerve irritation, as in the case of the back, an MRI would be helpful to identify the cause of the ailment.

To reduce the risk of spasms in future, one could eat foods that are rich in vitamins, calcium and magnesium with good consumption of water intakes and stretching properly before exercising. `Self help is the best help’, and hence self care measure could prove to be beneficial in dealing with muscle spasms which can ease the pain within a short span of time.

If the person tends to experience the spasms for no apparent reason, a visit to the physician would be essential to identify the real problem with the necessary treatment.

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