Bizarre and Painful “Charlie Horse”

Image by Pixabay
United States
July 1, 2016 11:45am CST
I don’t know if the term is used outside of the U.S., so I’ll describe what happens in a Charlie Horse. A muscle cramps unexpectedly, and you suffer a sharp pain. If you are lucky, once you stretch out the muscle, the cramp loosens and there is minimal residual pain. Just as I was finishing my myLot session this morning, I decided to stretch my arms above my head. Ouch! That was a mistake. I got a Charlie Horse in my forearm that caused my arm, hand and ring finger to contract tightly. What the heck? I immediately used my left hand to pull my right arm out in front of me. I noticed that my hand was still pulled up tightly, so I grabbed the end of my hand to pull it straight. Then I had to do the same thing with my ring finger. This helped, but oh, boy, the muscle in my forearm is not too happy with me. Typing this seems to help, for some reason. I’ve never had a Charlie Horse that stretched so far. Usually they happen in one area, like a toe, or the back of a calf. I’m pretty happy that I don’t get them very often. I think staying hydrated and eating lots of healthy vegetables convinces my muscles not to hurt me too often. Have you ever had a Charlie Horse in a strange place?
16 people like this
16 responses
@jaboUK (48828)
• United Kingdom
2 Jul 16
Do you know why it's called a Charlie Horse? It seems such an odd term. I'd never heard it till a couple of months ago when someone on here mentioned it, and I had to ask what it was. I get them in my calves and feet sometimes, but never in my arm or hand.
6 people like this
@jaboUK (48828)
• United Kingdom
2 Jul 16
@ElizabethWallace Ok, I just did, and all it says is that it's a colloquial term used in Canada and the US. I specifically asked why it was called that and it came up blank.
3 people like this
3 Jul 16
i do wonder why it is called that
1 person likes this
@Corbin5 (70297)
• United States
1 Jul 16
My husband runs marathons, and he has had quite a few Charlie-Horse incidents. I just have a knee I injured in high school gymnastics that gives me trouble now and again. The arm really does seem like an unusual place to have a Charlie Horse.
4 people like this
• United States
1 Jul 16
Yeah, What's up with that? Old injuries just don't go away, do they? It's the pits.
1 person likes this
@nanette64 (11929)
• Fairfield, Texas
2 Jul 16
I get them alot in my calves and feet @ElizabethWallace . Particularly when I sleep. Usually the whole next day, the muscle is extremely soar. I've been told that it is a low Iron count in the blood that causes it.
3 people like this
• United States
2 Jul 16
Okay. What do you do to solve the problem?
1 person likes this
@nanette64 (11929)
• Fairfield, Texas
3 Jul 16
@ElizabethWallace I just take regular Iron pills that you can buy OTC. The episodes have reduced dramatically.
1 person likes this
• United States
4 Jul 16
@nanette64 Great. I bet you know to make sure you drink lots of water. Iron can constipate.
1 person likes this
@celticeagle (111655)
• Boise, Idaho
1 Jul 16
In the mid 80's I was a jogger. I jogged about 8 miles a day one way. I could get on the green belt on one side of town and be on the other side in a matter of minutes. So, anyway, I started getting charlies horses in the bottom of my feet. I would wake up in the middle of the night with horrible cramp. Crying and horrifed I would rub them as best I could and after a while I got them to go away. Not a fun experience at all. I finally went to a foot doctor who prescribed a piece that went inside my shoe. He said that I had a 12 degree difference in the length of one leg and that was causing this.
3 people like this
• United States
2 Jul 16
Ouch. How are your knees? That sure was a lot of running.
1 person likes this
@celticeagle (111655)
• Boise, Idaho
3 Jul 16
@ElizabethWallace .....Well, I am over weight now and my knees bother me. I have an arthritic hip as well. I am taking a great supplement and these don't hurt as bad as they used to. And summer is better. Winter brings on the aches and pains.
1 person likes this
• Philippines
3 Jul 16
@celticeagle what supplement do you take?
1 person likes this
@CRK109 (14410)
• United States
2 Jul 16
I've gotten them in my legs but nowhere else. And all I had to do for my legs was put my bare foot on the floor and it immediately went away. How awful to get them in your arm and fingers.
3 people like this
• United States
2 Jul 16
It was a real surprise, and not the good kind.
1 person likes this
@CRK109 (14410)
• United States
2 Jul 16
@ElizabethWallace I'm sure it was. It would have been for me, too. ugh!
1 person likes this
• United States
4 Jul 16
@CRK109 Here it is two days later, and it is still a little sore.
1 person likes this
• Eugene, Oregon
1 Jul 16
Sometimes (rarely) in a muscle in the left side of my chest, which is a bad spot since I immediately wonder if I am having a heart attack. But, my heart is fine, it just happens when I turn wrong. Otherwise, I only get them in my legs.
3 people like this
• United States
2 Jul 16
Hey, I get those too, but mine are around the bottom edge of my ribcage, if I bend over. It doesn't happen every time, but it sure does hurt when it shows up.
3 people like this
• Eugene, Oregon
4 Jul 16
@ElizabethWallace I was awakened twice last night with the old charlie horse in my left calf. I put ice on it after stretching did not help.
1 person likes this
• United States
5 Jul 16
@JamesHxstatic I wonder if you are missing something in your diet that is causing them.
1 person likes this
@Drosophila (16886)
• Ireland
1 Jul 16
i thought it's the lack of calcium that gives cramps. I have noticed once I started yoga the cramps go away
3 people like this
• United States
2 Jul 16
Perhaps, but I take supplements and eat dairy.
1 person likes this
@Drosophila (16886)
• Ireland
3 Jul 16
@ElizabethWallace light exercise of muscles definitely helps to keep cramps at bay
1 person likes this
• United States
4 Jul 16
@Drosophila Yes, along with many other problems.
1 person likes this
@Hatley (152289)
• Garden Grove, California
1 Jul 16
+ Yes i n my upper thigh and I could not stretch it out and little by little it loosened and stopped bnt the area was sore for awhile.I have to eat a banana or take calcium pills to keep; from having those cramping knots
3 people like this
• United States
1 Jul 16
I take calcium, so that can't be the cause. I wonder why it happened? Maybe I have not had enough water yet today. I slept late, and have only had one glass so far.
1 person likes this
@Hatley (152289)
• Garden Grove, California
1 Jul 16
@ElizabethWallace AI have got cramp;s in m y legs when I do not drink enough water too or if I use salt as I usually dont as I have high blood pressure
1 person likes this
• United States
2 Jul 16
@Hatley I now know not to lift my hands up and stretch, at least not for awhile.
@responsiveme (12565)
• India
1 Jul 16
This is a new term for me and now I know what happens to the back of my calf...the charlie horse takes a gallop.
3 people like this
• United States
1 Jul 16
Love the cultural element to this site. We learn all sorts of things from each other. Such fun.
3 people like this
• Philippines
3 Jul 16
"the charlie horse takes a gallop." - two thumb's up!
1 person likes this
@sallypup (18634)
• Moses Lake, Washington
1 Jul 16
That is a worry for sure. I hope it does not happen again.
3 people like this
• United States
1 Jul 16
Me too. It wasn't fun, that's for sure.
@hereandthere (20924)
• Philippines
1 Jul 16
usually calf in bed so i force myself to stand to make it go away. i've also had them on the foot while in the mall. so inconvenient.
2 people like this
• United States
1 Jul 16
Yes, quickly finding a place to sit, to take off your shoe to stretch out your toes is annoying.
2 people like this
@AutumnSnow (4623)
1 Jul 16
OMG!! I get them all the time in my legs sometimes I wake up screaming from the pain. I have issues with my legs cause of my back problems. I've had two surgeries on my back the doctors cant do anything about my legs so I have to bear through it till the pain is gone. They are the worst.
1 person likes this
• United States
1 Jul 16
Have they checked your vitamin and mineral levels? It is a simple test. You collect your urine for 24 house and the lab lets them know your levels of each. If you are low on something, that could contribute to the issue. Good luck.
2 people like this
1 Jul 16
@ElizabethWallace no I will mention this to my doctor at my appointment tuesday, thanks.
2 people like this
• United States
1 Jul 16
@AutumnSnow Great. Helped me figure out what was causing kidney stones and depression. I had low magnesium levels cause by being lactose intolerant. Go figure.
1 person likes this
@DeborahDiane (14240)
• Laguna Woods, California
2 Jul 16
You may need to take a little magnesium or eat a banana for the potassium. I get Charlie Horses occasionally, too, and they can be very painful.
1 person likes this
@Tampa_girl7 (21028)
• United States
22 Aug 16
In my waist and hip area . It was excruciating.
@JudyEv (90252)
• Bunbury, Australia
4 Jul 16
I've heard the term but maybe only on here. It certainly isn't a phrase in common usage in Australia.
3 Jul 16
I've only had them, i think, in my calf muscles, but i do know how terribly painful they can be