Ouch! A Charley Horse!

Have you ever been sleeping, sitting in a chair, or laying on the couch and been struck with a sudden, intense muscle spasm? Many times, they occur in the legs, but they can affect virtually any muscle, large or small. These spasms are colloquially known as “Charley horses,” and when someone gets one, they usually let you know!!! During the spasm, your muscles contract and do not relax for a few seconds, although the pain it causes may make it seem like much longer.

Fortunately, Charley horses are rarely reasons to see a doctor, unless they occur so frequently and persistently that there may be an underlying medical cause in play. Even though the pain and soreness is temporary, it is helpful to know the causes of Charley horses so that you can take preventative measures.


  • Inadequate blood flow
  • Dehydration
  • Mineral deficiency, especially calcium, potassium, and sodium
  • Extreme hot or cold temperatures
  • Not stretching before exercise
  • Using a specific muscle too much during exercise
  • Stress

Prevention and Treatment

  • Standing up and walking to break up periods of inactivity
  • Stretch before exercise, after exercise, and before bed
  • Drink plenty of water throughout the day
  • Drink sports drinks (Gatorade, Powerade) that contain electrolytes
  • Limit the amount you exercise in extreme weather
  • Know your limits—do not overuse certain muscles

Certain groups tend to be at a greater risk for muscle spasms, including athletes, infants, smokers, and people who are obese. At Syracuse Podiatry, board-certified podiatrist Dr. Ryan L. D’Amico can treat and help prevent a wide variety of foot and ankle conditions in patients of all ages and of all body types. From ingrown toenails, to ulcers, to fractures and sprains, Dr. D’Amico offers both surgical and non-surgical solutions to everyone in Central New York. To ask any questions or to make appointment, contact us at our Fayetteville office at (315) 446-3668!

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