Why does my father get charley horses?

1 answer | Last updated: Nov 02, 2016
A fellow caregiver asked...

My father keeps getting charley horses; is this a sign of blood circulation issues in his legs?

Expert Answers

Jennifer Serafin, N.P. is a registered nurse and geriatric nurse practitioner at the Jewish Homes for the Aged in San Francisco.

Yes, it could be a sign of a circulation problem in his legs if it occurs when he is active/walking. For example, he will start walking and then develop cramps, that could show his arterial circulation is a problem. If this is the case, I would let his health care provider know.

If the cramps occur when he is in bed or resting, he could be just having leg cramps from fatigue or an electrolyte imbalance. I have heard people say that magnesium supplements help this, while others feel quinine is best. Unfortunately, quinine is no longer available here in the US, but you can drink sparkling mineral water to get the same effect.