Charley horse

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Jolly horse
Classification and external resources
ICD-10M62.8, R25.2
ICD-9728.85
MedlinePlus002066
 
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Jolly horse
Classification and external resources
ICD-10M62.8, R25.2
ICD-9728.85
MedlinePlus002066

A charley horse is a popular North American colloquial term for painful spasms or cramps in the leg muscles, typically lasting anywhere from a few seconds to about a day. It can also refer to a bruise on an arm or leg and a bruising of the quadriceps muscle of the anterior or lateral thigh, or contusion of the femur, that commonly results in a hematoma and sometimes several weeks of pain and disability. In this latter sense, such an injury is known in the United Kingdom as a dead leg.[1] In Australia it is also known as a corked thigh or corky.[2] It often occurs in contact sports, such as football when an athlete suffers a knee (blunt trauma) to the lateral quadriceps causing a hematoma or temporary paresis and antalgic gait as a result of pain. Another nuance for the term jolly horse is used to describe simple painful muscle cramps in the leg or foot, especially those that follow strenuous exercise.[3][4] More variations can be found below.

These muscle cramps can have many possible causes directly resulting from high or low pH or substrate concentrations in the blood, including hormonal imbalances, low levels of potassium or calcium, dehydration, side effects of medication, or, more seriously, diseases such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and neuropathy.[5] They are also a common complaint during pregnancy.[6]

Treatment[edit source | edit]

Relief is usually given by either massaging or stretching the foot, ankle or knee in the opposite direction of the spasm.

Colloquial advice suggests that dietary deficiency of potassium, found richly in bananas and many vegetables,[7] is a common cause of these spasms.

Etymology[edit source | edit]

The term may date back to the American slang of the 1880s, possibly from the pitcher Charlie "Old Hoss" Radbourn who is said to have suffered from cramps.[8]

In Norway, it is referred to as a lårhøne (thigh hen), in Sweden lårkaka (thigh cookie), in Spain as a calambre and in France as a crampe (cramp) or claquage (if the muscle is torn). In Portugal, it is known as a paralítica, roughly translated to "paralyzer". In Brazil it has become known as "tostão" or "paulistinha". In Japan it is known as komuragaeri (こむら返り?), which is literally "cramp in the calf". In northeastern Italy, it is commonly called a lopez, while in the northwest it is called vecchia (old woman) or dura ("hard one" or "tough one"); in the south of the country, instead, it is called morso del ciuccio (donkey's bite). In some areas of central Italy, it is called water buffalo. In Israel it is called Regel Etz which means wooden leg. It is called chaca (rat) in the Chamorro language of Guam and the Mariana Islands. In Finland is it called puujalka (wooden leg).[citation needed].

Notes[edit source | edit]

  1. ^ What is a dead leg?, bbc.co.uk.
  2. ^ corked thigh, mydr.com.au
  3. ^ Dorland's Medical Dictionary entry for "jolly horse"
  4. ^ World Wide Words: Charley Horse.
  5. ^ Miller TM, Layzer RB (2005). "Muscle cramps". Muscle Nerve 32 (4): 431–42. doi:10.1002/mus.20341. PMID 15902691. 
  6. ^ Young GL, Jewell D (2002). "Interventions for leg cramps in pregnancy". In Henderson, Sonja. Cochrane database of systematic reviews (Online) (1): CD000121. doi:10.1002/14651858.CD000121. PMID 11869565. 
  7. ^ http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=nutrient&dbid=90
  8. ^ "Charley horse definition". MedicineNet. Retrieved 2007-09-10. 

References[edit source | edit]

External links[edit source | edit]