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Charley horse

In medical parlance, a charley horse is a painful contusionof the quadricepsmuscle of the anterior thigh that commonly results in a muscular hematomaand sometimes several weeks of pain and disability.1,2 It often occurs in sports when an athlete is struck by an opponent's knee, in a manner not unlike the kick of a horse, perhaps the reason for its name.

In recent decades the term has also been used to describe painful legcramps, which may occur in the thighor the arch of the foot, but most often affect the calf muscle.

The term may date back to American baseballslangof the 1880s, possibly from the pitcherCharley "Old Hoss" Radbournewho is said to have suffered from cramps. Another story mentions a horse named Charley that used to work at Comiskey Park, the Chicago White Sox' ballpark in Chicago.

Causes of cramps

  • Sore muscles after exercise
  • Hormoneimbalance
  • Mineraldeficiency
  • Dehydration


The quadriceps contusion type of "charley horse" is initially treated by icing. Recent studies have shown that the resulting tightness and contractures that sometimes ensue can be lessened by maintaining the knee in a fully bent position for the first 24 hours to prevent the involved muscles from going into spasm. Premature return to activity can result in calcification of the hematoma in and around the muscle, a long-term problem called myositis ossificans.

A cramp can be quickly defused with either a massage or stretching of the affected muscle. Persistent cramps should be treated by a doctor.

This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License.
It uses material from the http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charley+horse Wikipedia article Charley horse.

  All text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License