Zzzzzzzzz.....Charlie Horse!!

By GabbyPA Latest Reply 2012-07-10 21:39:21 -0500
Started 2012-06-30 12:56:33 -0500

Boy, the last week has my head spinning. Actually it has my toes contorting and my calves spazing. I am not really sure what has changed to make this so pronounced. I am used to getting some mild cramps in the morning when I stretch before I get up, but these of late have been waking me up from a sound sleep. And not just once, but several times during the night. Like I don't have enough keeping me up already.

Do any of you have this happen or do you know maybe why? I would love to try to figure out how to make it stop. I am not a contortionist, as much as my toes want to think they are.

54 replies

IronOre 2012-07-09 22:15:23 -0500 Report

Calcium and potassium . . . and yes, water.
So milk, yogurt, and bananas . . . among other things.
I heard a rumor that Twinkies help it too, but that's only a rumor.
As far as your toes doing their own thing ~ my brother-in-law had a stroke, and his toes do whatever they want to too, so he purchased a pair of those shoes with the toes in them to keep his toes in place . . . but keep in mind this guy doesn't care what others think of him when they see him wearing those goofy things.

GabbyPA 2012-07-10 21:39:21 -0500 Report

Some people will do anything to make a twinkie useful. LOL!!!
As for the toe shoes, I have a curled toe from birth. It won't go in those things. I have a couple of friends who wear them, they are kind of funny looking, but what ever floats the boat.

CJ55 2012-07-09 23:23:22 -0500 Report

I have started taking more potassium, and I still soak my feet in menthol epsom salt when they "freeze". Only for 5-10 mins, then they subside. The cramping is horrendously painful.

GabbyPA 2012-07-07 10:12:51 -0500 Report

Ok, I have been using some of your suggestions and my bad cramps have stopped for now. I still get twinges, but I can deal with those.
Here is what I have been doing:
I increased my magnesium intake
I get a little more potassium now, added 210 mg
I have been better at getting out and making sure to exercise each day

I have not taken my epsom salt bath yet.

TsalagiLenape 2012-07-05 16:32:59 -0500 Report

Well I use a bar of Irish Spring soap, as well as take B complex, drinking lots of water helps a lot, and now get a bag of marbles. Take out the boulders aka big ones aka shooters. The rest you put in a sock and tie it up. When you need a massage this works really good. One the amount of pressure you put on is what you can stand. Portable and fun. I have told my Podiatrist about this and she recommends it to all her patients. So I hope this helps. Hugs

Caliafiosgram62 2012-07-02 21:12:15 -0500 Report

This is going to sound wierd. Put a bar of soap under the bottom sheet on your bed. I used to wake up with such cramps in my feet (mainly the toes) that the only way I could get rid of them was to have my husband get me ice cubes and rub them on the bottom of my feet. That would work, but the bar of soap works better. When it wakes me up all I have to do is (painfully) find the soap with my feet and rub up against it. The cramp goes away. And I know the ice cubes will also work. That is something my father taught me when he fell off the roof and broke his back. When it would cramp up, he would lay down on something ice cold and gradually it would relax the muscles. I've heard that the bar of soap isn't supposed to work, but for me it does - even if it is all in my head, my head believes it works so it does.

GabbyPA 2012-07-02 21:18:39 -0500 Report

LOL! I think a lot of us have remedies that are in our head, but anything that works for me is a good thing. I will have to try it.

BryanGreyOwl 2012-07-02 13:48:06 -0500 Report

Gabby, how is your Vitamin B2 intake? I have found that taking this as a supplement has helped as part of an overall healthier lifestyle. I am in agreement with the comments in this thread as well.

IronOre 2012-07-10 12:17:59 -0500 Report

I heard this from John Tesh too. He also brought up B-12 for those who seem "always tired".
I started taking it a couple weeks ago.

GabbyPA 2012-07-02 21:19:09 -0500 Report

I take a B-12 supplement, but not the general B

marydiabetes 2012-07-10 00:20:49 -0500 Report

the B-12 supplement is good? I take the herb supplement named Gluconature, and I feel it better, my toe is not numb :)

Controlled 2012-07-10 00:51:57 -0500 Report

Can't answer about B-12 supplements (other than in a multiple vitamin), but I do take Benfothiamine, which is a fat-soluble version of B-1. I got the recommendation from a podiatrist and subsequently by a pain doctor. I've been using it for several months and it helps a lot (for neuropathy). You can by it inexpensively at sites like Swanson's Vitamins or Puritans Pride (or you can pay way too much for a fancy marketed and branded product of no better quality).

Hope it helps.

gadgetgirl007 2012-07-01 21:34:23 -0500 Report

Saw my trainer today, who actually had sypathy for me & my charlie horse. (I was surprised). He took it easy on my legs, and seriously worked out my arm muscles. The cause of my most recent bad charlie horse is probably some dehydration and definately the lack of stretching before my 6:00 AM 5 K Walk yesterday morning. My alarm didn't go off. Anyway his recommendations: find a softball or other small hard round ball, put it under meaty part of calf, cross other leg on top, lift butt, roll left/right & back & forth. Hot, hot bath or jacuzzi soak. Rub it out. Use a balm. After knots are loose can use hot and cold alternately. & of couse his Mantra stretch, STRETCH, S T R E T C H! He says if you ever think you have stretched too much, let him know, cause it's simply impossible to stretch too much. LOL

Set apart
Set apart 2012-07-01 06:52:35 -0500 Report

Upon diagnosis cramps sometimes up to 2-3 in one night. Like everyone said here magnesium and potassium is what dr. Recommended. He said that people with D tend to flush out certain nutrients from their bodies which need to be replenished. Can't stress enough water, water especially with this heat! Since D I have gotten rid of so many shoes :-( it's all about comfort now. Luckily I have found some cute and comfortable shoes on zappos. If I wear shoes that don't feel right they cause the cramps! Good luck!

momof32 2012-06-30 20:11:40 -0500 Report

i heard that if you drink buttermilk it will stop the charlie horse , it stopped mine and not had any more

Nick1962 2012-06-30 19:38:40 -0500 Report

I've gotten severe charlie horses, and as I get older, the effects last longer. last one I got had me in discomfort for a week. I started drinking tonic water which contains Quinine (quinine sulphate used to be prescribed in pill form for leg cramps). i get one maybe every 6 months at best now.

Set apart
Set apart 2012-07-01 06:55:11 -0500 Report

Thanks Nick, again your sharing does help. I am going to try this. Although my cramps have decreased still get up to 2 a week! This helps!

Nick1962 2012-07-01 10:18:41 -0500 Report

The taste might really scare you off (I drink the diet stuff which is even worse). If you've never tried it, it's kind of like aspirin water.

Graylin Bee
Graylin Bee 2012-06-30 17:50:02 -0500 Report

Could be you need to drink more water. Being a little dehydrated can result in good ol' Charlie horses.
Calcium, potassium, and magnesium can all be low and increasing their levels can help. My dad always drank a glass of calcium added OJ in the morning to ward of leg cramps. He was not a PWD.
I still cringe when I remember the muscle cramping when of West Nile Virus. From toes clear up to hips, sometimes in just one spot, sometimes the whole length. One of WNV polio type symptoms.
Also had the fun of charlie horses while healing after the cellulitis with MRSA was destroyed.
Both of those events make regular Charlie horses feel like ponies in contrast. Still no fun to wake up screaming when they hit in the
Certain shoes or walking barefoot (yes I know bad idea and I only did it few times in the apartment) cause major foot cramps a day later for me.


Just Joyce
Just Joyce 2012-06-30 16:42:15 -0500 Report

I had one doctor tell me I didn't have enough potassium and another said calcium. I have had these cramps my entire life. They use to wake me up and I would be in so much pain I would cry until my uncle told me about mustard and vinegar. I keep little packets of carry out mustard in a jar beside my bed. If you can stand the taste of mustard all you need is a pack and it will get rid of the cramps. I have also tried a Tablespoon of Vinegar and that works also.

old biker
old biker 2012-06-30 19:03:37 -0500 Report

Interesting.I haven't had any toe curling wake me up out of a deep sleep foot cramps in awhile..But there coming, I tried everything else..Mustard I will definitely give it a try

GabbyPA 2012-06-30 16:47:33 -0500 Report

Really? How simple and interesting. I like mustard, not as a midnight snack, but I would be willing to try. It could be that the vinegar in the mustard is the trick and eating mustard is easier than drinking vinegar. So what about pickles? I have not been eating as many pickles as I usually do?? Maybe that is my connection?

re1ndeer 2012-06-30 16:28:03 -0500 Report

This may sound strange, but when I approached my doctor about charlie horses or leg cramps, he told me it was that I was having too much calcium in my body. I reduced the amount of calcium, and my leg cramps stopped.

GabbyPA 2012-06-30 16:30:59 -0500 Report

Hmmm, I am not a dairy hound. But I do like broccoli and that is filled with calcium. I will have to see what I have been eating calcium wise of late.

jayabee52 2012-06-30 16:23:07 -0500 Report

I have had 'charlie horses' in my calves of my legs (are these charlie calves?) Mine was due to eating too much protein (Las Vegas buffets) and having kidney issues. Kidneys couldn't clear out that much protein that fast and I got cramps overnight which woke me up a couple of times.

If nothing else checks out you might want to try a kidney numbers test. (wouldn't hurt to know your kidney numbers anyway).

GabbyPA 2012-06-30 16:31:53 -0500 Report

Wow, well that is a little scary! Did your kidneys give you any pain when you were having these issues?

jayabee52 2012-06-30 16:54:42 -0500 Report


I really don't want to scare you, just make you aware of the possibility.

Even when I had my kidney shutdown which necessitated my dialysis in 2006 my kidneys gave me no discomfort whatsoever. My first clue (and I missed it completely) was needing to vomit repeatedly. I passed that off as my "benign peripheral vertigo" (which I have had for a couple years prior to that incident) acting up because I had been dancing very vigorously and spinning me and my partners (like in square dance) That was the weekend after which I spent 5 days in a semi-comatose state on my bedroom floor.

alesiafae 2012-06-30 15:42:42 -0500 Report

Yes Gabby it has happened to me before. Sleep on couch went to get up spasm all though my left thigh. It was awful! This was about 3 years ago. My doctor increased my potassium and praise the Lord!!! No more cramps!

MewElla 2012-06-30 13:51:27 -0500 Report

I used to have the toe cramping in the early morning hours and found when I stepped up potassium, I did not have the cramps…

GabbyPA 2012-06-30 14:14:45 -0500 Report

Potassium can be tricky though. Too much can be bad for your heart. I don't know how to balance it. I did eat a banana, which I don't normally do because of the carbs, and it didn't help that night. I might have to do more options.

MewElla 2012-06-30 15:29:04 -0500 Report

For me, I just was aware of choosing foods that had higher potassium levels and it balanced me out, like I normally don't eat bananas either.

MewElla 2012-06-30 20:20:47 -0500 Report

Some foods I use to bring up my potassium is 1 cup cubed cantaloupe, 1 small apple, 1/2 cup strawberries or blueberries, small baked sweet potato, or 1 cup fresh or cooked asparagus..

hillwalker 2012-06-30 15:05:52 -0500 Report

i used to use some of the sports drinks that had potassium in them just also followed them with a like amount of water but no idea how bad the carbs would be

GabbyPA 2012-06-30 15:21:16 -0500 Report

I tried coconut water last night before bed to see. I didn't have really bad ones, but they were still there. I hate getting old.

GabbyPA 2012-06-30 16:32:31 -0500 Report

yes, it sure does, at least for now. I am sure one day the alternative will be more appealing, but not now.

Caroltoo 2012-06-30 13:20:51 -0500 Report

I've had contractions in the arches of feet since I was a child … became aware of it when trying to "point my toes" when taking swimming lessions and going for the mile swim for a Red Cross certificate.

Off and on over the years, I've had spasms in my right calf and arch. Recently, I've gotten them in both feet and calves, also toes and fingers. Yes, feels like a real spaz attack!

I read that it can be caused by a magnesium deficiency, so am going back to my discontinued habit of soaking a minimum of 20 min. in a warm bath in 2 cups of epsom salts, 1/2 cup of baking soda, few drops of lavendar oil (soothing, not just for scent), and sesame oil (for softness).

The epsom salts delivers magnesium through the epidermis. I've stopped spasming since starting to do this weekly. (Before someone teases me about the once a week, there are other baths and showers during the week without epsom salts. :) This is just the therapeautic piece of the puzzle.)

GabbyPA 2012-06-30 13:37:05 -0500 Report

You know, I have been craving a soak bath. Maybe that is what my body is telling me. It is so complicated to try to balance out our bodies. I love epsom soaks, and I may just have to give that a try. I need to stock up on Epsom salts big time. I used to always have a few pounds of it around the house for all kinds of things. Sounds like a good excuse for some pampering. THANKS!!