Charley Horses versus Leg Cramps [VIDEO]


So, a question that I get asked often from patients is, “is a charley horse the same as a leg cramp?” It’s a matter of semantics: for some people, a charley horse and a leg cramp refer to the same thing. For others, they mean something different. Based on my conversations with patients, they are not always the same to them.

Many people simply associate the term “cramping” with menstrual or stomach pain. And then, people also often associate the slang term “charley horse” with a leg or foot muscle cramp. 

When the word “charley horse” is used to describe a cramp, it happens when a muscle in the thigh, calf, or foot starts to contract and does not stop, resulting in painful cramping. After the muscle is done contracting, the cramping will then begin to stop. But, after this cycle is done, muscles are in fact damaged and can remain sore and tender for days afterward as your body heals. 

Leg Cramps

For other people, the word “charley horse” is referring to the location of the cramp, which can be in a certain part of the leg. The definition is different for different people. Some people call a mild muscle spasm a charley horse, even though it is clearly not a cramp. 

In the video below, I explain in more detail what exactly is happening in your body to cause a charley horse (leg cramp).


Although it is common to suffer from painful leg cramps, or “charley horses,” this does not have to be your day-to-day reality. The most common reason people suffer from these leg cramps is because they have a vein condition. One distinct characteristic of a leg cramp attributed to a vein condition is that it occurs at night. 

Watch Video on How to Stop a Leg Cramp in 15 Seconds

However, vein treatment procedures to treat these conditions are more often than not relatively simple and non-invasive. Treatments result in overall better blood flow and healthy circulation in your body, helping decrease your chances of leg cramps. There are many benefits to having a vein treatment, and many of my patients see immediate improvement with their leg cramps after their first treatment. 

To find out how a vein treatment can help get you back to living life cramp-free, contact us for a vein reflux ultrasound.

Free downloadable health resources from Missouri Vein Care



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