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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.