Monthly Archives: September 2014

4 Effective Means to Alleviate a “Charley Horse”

woman-stretching-calvesYou’re lying in bed and just about to go to sleep and then all of a sudden, you feel that pull start deep in your calf muscle. You know exactly what is coming; the seizing pain of another “Charley Horse” sets in.

“Charley Horse” is a slang term for a painful muscle spasm that can happen in any muscle but most often it happens in the calf or foot. Sometimes you may experience this pain in the arms, hands, rib cage, abdomen, or thighs. It is characterized by a tight or “seizing” sensation. The pain can last for just a few seconds or stretch out over a period of days. The affected area can become difficult to touch.

Just about everyone will experience this common type of muscle spasm from time to time. Sometimes the worst part is just the fear of when it’s going to happen again.

The important thing to know is that you can prevent this pain from coming and even from hitting its peak when you feel it starting. Knowing how to alleviate a Charley Horse effectively will be profoundly helpful to you when you are trying to rest and just feel better.

Common Causes and Prevention

Charley horses are commonly caused by exercising without stretching first. Dehydration, hormonal imbalances, dietary deficiencies, nerve malfunction, and reactions to medication can all contribute to creating a painful charley horse episode. Here’s what you need to know:

  1. Encourage and maintain flexibility. Stretching exercises are highly useful for both alleviating and preventing the dreaded charley horse. If a muscle spasm affects your calf or the back of your thigh, you can stretch it out by lunging forward, putting your weight on the affected leg, and slightly bending your knee. If a cramp or spasm is affecting the front of your leg, you can alleviate it by using a chair to balance while pulling your foot up behind you, toward your bottom.
  2. Massage the affected area. Massaging the affected area can release and relieve muscle tension, allowing the spasm to subside. Applying hot and cold compresses can also assist in alleviating the pain. You can also elevate the affected area to increase blood circulation and encourage the release of tension.
  3. Drink plenty of water. Dehydration is a leading cause of charley horses. Water keeps your muscles hydrated and truly “fluid”. You can alleviate and prevent them by drinking lots of water.
  4. Eat More of the Right Foods. A low sodium diet combined with increasing your consumption of potassium-, magnesium-, and calcium-rich foods is recommended. Foods to eat include bananas, oranges, avocados, almonds, halibut, spinach, kale, and dairy products. Vitamin supplements can also assist in increasing your potassium, magnesium, and calcium levels. Lastly, avoid diuretics (i.e. caffeine or drugs) as they can deplete your hydration and electrolytes.

What about if you need help now? They just keep coming back!

If you’re experiencing charley horses on a frequent basis, they could be an indication of a physical problem. For example, a pinched nerve can cause reoccurring muscle spasms and is correctable via chiropractic adjustment. Also body imbalance can cause frequent muscle spasms such as Charley Horses. Imbalance of your posture is where your muscles are pulling stronger on one side of your body in comparison to the other side or pulling on one side of a body part- such as your leg- versus the other. This causes a muscle to experience more episodes of spasm than if it was balanced. Consult us today for a comprehensive diagnosis to see if you have the tell-tale signs of faulty foot, ankle or hip muscle movement patterns or other health disturbances that may cause Charley Horses.

3 Ways to Identify Pain That’s Caused by Repressed Stress

Chronic back pain is one of the most common and frustrating ailments.

Few things are worse than a sore back. It can make everything from moving to staying still very uncomfortable and often painful.

True relief can only be achieved if and when the root cause of your pain is identified. This is where things sometimes get tricky. Healthcare professionals categorize chronic back pain as one of the most frequently seen musculoskeletal issues in health care. And although they repeatedly treat it as a physical ailment, some have realized that often there is more at play. There are times that a person’s pain is more than a physical problem; more than a problem that solely involves the muscles, bones, joints or nerves.

In the 1970s, Dr. John Sarno proposed the idea that not all pain is caused by a physical issue. He introduced tension myositis syndrome (or TMS). TMS is based on the premise that not all pain is purely physical in nature, and chronic pain could be linked to repressed psychological or emotional stress that is directly causing muscle tension.

Spotting Signs of Repressed Stress

It’s rare to receive a chronic back pain diagnosis documenting the cause as TMS. Unfortunately, the bulk of the mainstream medical community fails to recognize it as a valid diagnosis, and they do not endorse related treatment methods. However, Dr. Mehmet Oz, Andrew Weil, and other alternative care health professionals have given TMS attention. According to Dr. Sarno, when TMS is accurately diagnosed and treated, the approximate cure rate is 85 percent. Here’s how you can spot the signs of repressed stress pain:

  1. Emotional Triggers: Repressed anger or anxiety are major causes of TMS. Triggers can involve everything from highly emotional encounters to pain occurring directly after a sound, smell, or sight.
  2. Known Symptoms: Documented TMS symptoms include recurring and intermittent back pain, stiffness, tingling sensations, numbness, and weakness in the affect area. Discomfort in other neighboring parts of the body is common, including the neck, arms, jaw, wrists, and knees.
  3. Periods of Relief: It’s common for symptoms to decrease after a vacation or other form of relaxation. Once back to the daily grind, symptoms can rapidly reoccur and they are not contingent on physical activity.

The core treatment is education. Once a proper diagnosis is issued, you can begin to recover. Regardless of whether you’re experiencing acute or sporadic back pain, a trained chiropractor can help. Chiropractors treat joint misalignments that cause muscle tension as well as sharp and pulling pain. It is well known to us that these misalignments in the body often stem from three major influences in our lives: trauma, toxins and thoughts. All have a strong influence on how well our bodies are able to heal, replenish and cope with the day-to-day movements we make.

We have proven to help many of our clients feel much better so they gain a deeper sense of rest and balance. When this happens, the body is able to restore itself releasing much of the tightly held tension you have been feeling. Contact Dr. Nicole Muschett today for a complimentary consultation.