Causes of Charlie Horses In Legs: Cramps In Legs & Feet At Night

Charlie’ Horse is a painful bruise in quadriceps muscle of anterior or lateral part of thigh. The pain mostly occurs in the calf muscle when we get up in morning while stretching our body.

Some of the common causes of Charlie’s Horses in legs are:

  • Mineral deficiency: Low levels of mineral such as potassium and calcium may lead to cramping. Low levels of minerals causes the muscle to contract but prevents it from relaxing.
  • Low levels of body fluids while doing strenuous exercise may lead to Charlie Horses.
  • Hormonal imbalance is also a cause for Charlie Horses.
  • Doing too much exercise or heavy workout on one set of muscle may also be the reason.
  • Standing for a long time, or sleeping in an awkward position for long time may also result in Charlie Horses.
  • Some types of diuretics, anti psychotic drug are also the reasons for cramping.
  • In some cases cramping also occurs after dialysis.
  • Less common reasons are Parkinson’s disease, diabetes, anemia, hypoglycemia and thyroid disorders.

The typical symptom of Charlie’s horse is a feeling that the muscle contracts very quickly causing pain in the contracted part and there is tenderness in that region.

The diagnosis can only be made by presence of soreness or tenderness in calf muscle.

How To Treat And Prevent Leg & Foot Cramps At Night?

  • Massage the affected part with little pressure till the pain subsides.
  • Stretch the calf muscles.
  • Rub an ice pack on the affected part.
  • Applying heat may also relive pain.
  • If still pain persists you may need to take non steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.
  • Taking a walk may also reduce the spasm.

These following tips would be useful to prevent leg cramps.

  • Drink plenty of water every day to prevent dehydration.
  • Avoid drinks containing alcohol or caffeine as this might cause dehydration.
  • Always workout only within your ability and don’t overstretch your muscles.
  • Stretch your legs few minutes before you go to bed.
  • Eat foods rich in potassium like pumpkins, beans, fish, milk, meat, orange juice.
  • Eat food rich in calcium like milk, cheese, banana and yogurt.
  • Take vitamin E at least 400 IU. Check with your local doctor before doing this.
  • Check your calcium and potassium levels to rule out cramping due to low mineral levels.