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What is a Charley Horse? How do I Stop these Muscle Cramps?!

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A charley horse, or muscle cramp, is a common condition that results in your muscles becoming tight, stiff and extremely painful.

These muscle cramps are referred to as “charley horses” because of Charley “Old Hoss” Radbourne, an 1880s-era baseball pitcher who often suffered from muscle cramps during games.

What Causes a Charley Horse?

About 1 in every 3 adults is affected by muscle cramps in their lower limbs. I get asked very frequently from my patients about these pains. In many cases, the pain is temporary and goes away on its own, but for some the cramps interfere with sleep, quality of life and daily activities. Anyone can get a charley horse, but they’re most common in the following populations and scenarios:

  • During exercise
  • At nighttime, especially in the elderly
  • In pregnant women
  • In people with neurological disease
  • During kidney dialysis

Many medications are also associated with muscle cramps, including statin cholesterol-lowering drugs, blood pressure drugs, certain asthma drugs, diuretics and more. In addition, the following factors may also increase your risk of a muscle cramp:

  • Poor blood circulation in your legs
  • Muscle fatigue
  • Dehydration
  • Mineral deficiencies, including magnesium, potassium or calcium

Is Magnesium Deficiency Causing Your Charley Horses?

Up to 80 percent of Americans are not getting enough magnesium and may be deficient. Magnesium is often thought of primarily as a mineral for your heart and bones, but this is misleading. Researchers have now detected 3,751 magnesium-binding sites on human proteins, indicating that its role in human health and disease may have been vastly underestimated.

If you suffer from headaches or charley horses, low levels of magnesium could be to blame. Magnesium is necessary for activating muscles and nerves, and a key sign of ongoing magnesium deficiency can be headaches, muscle contractions and cramps like charley horses.

Low Potassium Levels May Also Trigger a Charley Horse

Potassium, a mineral and electrolyte, is essential for your cells, tissues and organs to function properly. It plays a vital role in heart health, digestive and muscular function, bone health and more. One of the symptoms of low potassium levels is muscle cramps.

While potassium is found in many foods commonly consumed in the U.S. such as fruits, vegetables, dairy products, salmon, sardines and nuts.

Potassium is a nutrient that needs to be kept in proper balance with sodium in your blood. If you consume too much sodium, which is common if you eat a lot of processed foods, you’ll have an increased need for potassium.

Others who are at particular risk of low potassium, or hypokalemia, are those with chronic malabsorption syndromes, such as Crohn’s disease, or those taking heart medicine. However, anyone who eats a poor diet with an excess of processed foods and not enough fresh, whole foods is potentially at risk of inadequate potassium levels and related muscle cramps.

Green vegetable juicing is an excellent way to ensure you’re getting enough nutrients for optimal health. Some additional rich sources of potassium are: Lima beans, winter squash, cooked spinach, and avocados.

Too Little Calcium May Trigger Muscle Cramps

Low blood levels of calcium may increase the excitability of nerve endings and the muscles they stimulate. Good sources of calcium include nuts, seeds and raw, organic, grass-fed dairy, and vegetables. Homemade bone broth is another excellent source. Simply simmer leftover bones over low heat for an entire day to extract the calcium from the bones. You can use this broth for soups and stews or drink it straight.

What to Do If You Get a Charley Horse

A charley horse often occurs without notice, sometimes waking you up from sound sleep. If you’re lying down when the pain starts, stand up and put some weight on your foot. (Easier said than done) Walking around will help to increase blood circulation to your muscles and possibly help to soothe and relax the cramp.

You can also try a simple stretch. If the cramp is in your calf in the back of your lower leg, pull your toes and foot upward until you feel a stretch in the back of your leg. You can also do this sitting down with your legs outstretched. Put a towel around your feet and gently pull both ends toward you until you feel a stretch.

Soaking in an Epsom salt bath may also help to relieve pain and possibly help with prevention. Massaging the area and applying a heat pack will increase blood flow to the area promoting healing and soothing pain.

Staying well-hydrated is also important for muscle cramp prevention. You’ll want to drink enough pure filtered water so that your urine is pale yellow in color. In addition, performing regular stretching exercises on your legs may help reduce your risk of a charley horse.

Chiropractic care will ensure that your skeletal system is in proper alignment and that your nervous system is functioning well. Regular adjustments will balance any bio-mechanical malfunctions that cause undue tension in specific areas of the body. Schedule your Adjustment online now at this link or call 913-283-9803.


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Six Common Surgeries that are Often Unnecessary

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Six Common Surgeries That Are Often Unnecessary

Be sure to get a second opinion before you have any non-emergencysurgery. These surgeries carry a high risk of being done without medical necessity.

Yes, there is a cost and significant hassle, but I strongly encourage to do your due diligence. The extra time and resources you invest in confirming the necessity of the surgery could have a major impact on your ability to enjoy the rest of your life.

  1. Cardiac Angioplasty, Stents

This invasive procedure involves inflating a thin balloon in a narrowed artery to crush plaque deposits; a stent (a wire mesh tube) is often then left behind to keep the vessel open. When used during a heart attack, an angioplasty can quickly open a blocked artery to lessen the damage to your heart, and when used in this way can be lifesaving.

However, oftentimes heart disease patients receive angioplasties even though they have not had a heart attack — a decision that goes against the latest medical guidelines. One 2011 study found that 12 percent of all angioplasty procedures (in cases that did not involve an acute heart attack) were not medically necessary. Separate research also revealed that angioplasty offers no benefit compared to less invasive treatment of heart disease.

  1. Cardiac Pacemakers

Pacemakers are used to correct heartbeat irregularities, but research shows that more than 22 percent of these implants may be unnecessary.

  1. Spinal Fusion Back Surgery

If you have low back pain and see different specialists you will get different tests: rheumatologists will order blood tests, neurologists will order nerve impulse tests, and surgeons will order MRIs and CT scans. But no matter what tests you get, you’ll probably end up with a spinal fusion because it’s one of the more lucrative procedures in medicine, even though the best success rate for spinal fusions is only 25 percent!

According to one review, more than 17 percent of patients told they needed spinal surgery actually showed no abnormal neurological or radiographic findings that would require surgery.

  1. Hysterectomy

The surgical removal of the uterus may be recommended inappropriately in 70 percent of cases, often because of a lack of adequate diagnostic evaluation and failure to try alternative treatments before the surgery. Some surgeons also remove healthy ovaries during hysterectomy as a ‘precaution,’ sometimes without the patient providing their consent or being informed as to the severe adverse effects the ovariectomy may produce on their remaining quality of life.

  1. Knee and Hip Replacement, and Arthroscopic Knee Surgery

Patients who were informed about joint replacements and alternative treatments had 26 percent fewer hip replacements and 38 percent fewer knee replacements than those who did not. Arthroscopic knee surgery for osteoarthritis is also one of the most unnecessary surgeries performed today, as it works no better than a placebo surgery.

Proof of this is a double-blind placebo-controlled multi-center (including Harvard’s Mass General Hospital) study published in one of the most well-respected medical journals on the planet, the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) over 10 years ago.

Recent research has also shown arthroscopic knee surgery works no better than placebo surgery, and when comparing treatments for knee pain, exercise is just as effective as surgery for people with chronic knee pain.

  1. Cesarean Section

Cesarean delivery is the most commonly performed surgical procedure in the US and rates are increasing. But research shows rates vary 10-fold among hospitals, even among low-risk pregnancies, suggesting that practice patterns, not necessity, are driving these high surgery rates.

According to the World Health Organization, no country is justified in having a cesarean rate greater than 10 percent to 15 percent. The US rate, at nearly 32 percent, is the highest rate ever reported in the US and is higher than in most other developed countries.

Chiropractic care is a wonderful first line defense to help with many health concerns. It is a safe, affordable and conservative way to stop problems before they become so debilitating that patients become desperate and turn to drugs and surgery. Even after major surgeries, Chiropractic is still an option when many people might think they are not eligible.

Schedule your Chiropractic Adjustment online now using this link or call 913-283-9803