If you have ever been woke up in the middle of the night by sudden cramping in your calf, you have probably experienced what has become known as Charley Horse.
A nocturnal leg cramp, as it is also known, is a sudden muscle spasm that causes terrifying pain in the region it affects. Those who have experienced it describe it as if their muscle has been tied in a knot. Persons most affected by it are elderly and pregnant women. These cramps can also happen after heavy exercise during the day.
There are several methods you can try in order to alleviate the pain. The first is to massage the affected muscle. You can also try jiggling your foot, in order to relax it. A warm water may also help, either by soaking or standing under the shower. Once the pain subsides, there may be some swelling, which can be reduced by applying ice.
In order to prevent or at least reduce the effects, doctors recommended increasing your water intake, as dehydration can also be one of the causes. Coffee or tea should be avoided before bedtime, as they can speed up dehydration. Before falling to sleep, it is a good idea to stretch your legs in bed, but don’t over do it.
In most cases, Charley horse is not considered a serious issue, just an inconvenient one. However, in some cases, it can be a symptom of some other illness or injury and you should consult your doctor just to be on a safe side. There are also recorded cases of Charley Horse being a side effect of some medication.