Tag Archives: dehydration

My (non)friend Charley Horse

Friday evening I was napping on the couch (I’m old – I fall asleep watching TV) when I was awakened by one of the worst charley horses I have ever experienced. This was unusual to start with – I don’t get muscle cramps often, but when I do it’s usually when I’m fast asleep in my bed. It was also unusual in that I hadn’t exercised on Friday (I work all day and consider it a “rest” day), and I drink plenty of water. And then, to make matters worse, while I was massaging the calf muscle, my OTHER leg started spasming at the ankle. Talk about pain! I was sharing the couch with 3 of our 4 dogs at the time so didn’t have enough room to roll around. I dropped to the floor, and writhed in pain. It was so bad I almost passed out. I have a pretty high pain threshold (having experienced multiple shoulder dislocations, hip bursitis, and various muscle strains and pulls) but this was extreme. My sister was nice enough to get an ice pack for me, which helped with the residual pain.

I don’t ever want another muscle spasm like this again, so I did some research into muscle spasms – their causes, cures and prevention.

Muscle spasms can be caused by exercising while dehydrated, or deficiency in certain minerals like calcium and potassium (https://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/002066.htm).  It can also be caused by overuse of muscles, exposure to cold temperatures, standing on a hard surface for a long period of time, having the legs in an awkward position, deficiency in magnesium, certain medical conditions such as having blood flow problems, or taking certain medications such as statins (http://www.webmd.com/sleep-disorders/tc/nighttime-leg-cramps-topic-overview).

Not much help there. I don’t think I was dehydrated, or deficient in minerals, but you never know. All the sources I checked agreed that treatment is heat, ice, over-the-counter pain reliever, and drink plenty of water. And prevention is, again, drink plenty of water, don’t over-exercise, and stretch (but not too much).