Zocdoc Answers

Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors

"Why do I seem to get a charlie horse at least three times a week?"

ZocdocAnswersWhy do I seem to get a charlie horse at least three times a week?


I'm a 19 year old senior in high school. And at least three times a week I'll get a charlie horse in my calf out of no where. These are extremely painful and sometimes leave me crying. I do work out a lot but this is ridiculous. Also this has been going on for about a month now. Could I know some ways to ease the pain or maybe a doctor I should see about this?


This is a concerning symptom. Any condition that causes such a severe pain it leaves you in tears should be evaluated. There are a few potential causes of your pain that your primary care doctor can investigate. The sensation of a charlie horse is normally associated with muscle spasm. Muscles can cause pain for a multitude of reasons. The first thing to rule out is if there is muscle inflammation or damage that is causing this persistent pain. This can be caused by inflammation from excess exercise. Your doctor can evaluate this by a physical exam and blood tests (notably CPK and aldolase). If your muscles are inflamed this could be a sign that you are working out to hard or another diffuse disease. Diffuse muscle inflammation is known as myositis. Myositis can be caused by multiple causes including medicines, infection or autoimmune diseases. If you are also having skin changes this could be dermatomyositis which is a serious condition that should be evaluated. Another common cause is nerve irritation. This is common from abnormal electrolytes (low potassium or magnesium) or other nerve damage. I would recommend that you have this checked as well. See your doctor to have this evaluated. Good luck!

Zocdoc Answers is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor (in the United States) 911 immediately. Always seek the advice of your doctor before starting or changing treatment. Medical professionals who provide responses to health-related questions are intended third party beneficiaries with certain rights under Zocdoc’s Terms of Service.