The key difference between charley horse and pulled muscle is that charley horse is a condition that lasts for a few seconds, while pulled muscle is a sustained injury.
Skeletal muscles mainly control movement and posture. Injuries to muscles are caused due to improper movement of muscles and incorrect posture. Charley horse and pulled muscle are two conditions that take place in muscles. Charley horse is a mild condition where the muscle tightens up, causing slight pain. Pulled muscle is a strain on the muscle or tendon and is a contraction-induced injury where muscle fibers tear due to extensive mechanical stress. Muscles are most likely to tear during sudden acceleration and deceleration movements. A pulled muscle is a more serious condition than a charley horse. Both conditions are involuntary.
1. Overview and Key Difference
2. What is Charley Horse
3. What is Pulled Muscle
4. Similarities – Charley Horse and Pulled Muscle
5. Charley Horse vs Pulled Muscle in Tabular Form
6. Summary – Charley Horse vs Pulled Muscle
What is Charley Horse?
Charley horse, which is also known as a muscle spasm or cramp, takes place when a muscle tightens up on its own. It mostly occurs in the leg or foot and lasts for a few seconds. It is a painful involuntary cramp. Some muscle spasms occur due to the irritation of a nerve connected to a muscle. Charley horse usually takes place when a muscle is injured or overused. This is due to exercise when the body does not contain sufficient fluids and has low levels of minerals such as calcium and potassium. Spasms take place during swimming, running, or sleep at night. Upper leg spasms are common during running and jumping.
Incidents that trigger charley horse are poor blood flow, tiring muscles, being active at high temperatures, dehydration, not stretching enough, and kidney diseases. It also takes place as a side effect of some drugs. Older adults, pregnant women, athletes, obese and overweight people, and people suffering from diabetes, thyroid, and liver diseases tend to get charley horse more often. Eating more food containing high vitamins and minerals, a hydrated body, stretching, regular exercise, and limited consumption of alcohol are a few preventive measures for the condition. Treatment options for charley horse include putting weight on the affected leg and bending knees, sitting, lying down with straight legs and raising the feet toward the head, massaging using Epsom salts, and keeping ice packs on the muscle.
What is Pulled Muscle?
A pulled muscle, which is also known as muscle strain, is an injury to a muscle or tendon due to tearing or overstretching. It occurs without any warning and affects people of all fitness levels and all ages. Such conditions are caused due to lifting heavy objects, lifting improperly, not warming up and cooling down after exercise, poor flexibility, overextension and fatigue of muscles, muscle overuse, and poor posture.
Pulled muscles often happen in the hamstrings, lower back, neck, and shoulder. Symptoms of such conditions are swelling, redness, muscle weakness, bruising, difficulty in using an affected muscle, sudden pain when using, and when at rest. Treatments for pulled muscle involve resting of muscle, applying ice to the injury to reduce inflammation, wrapping the muscle with a bandage to reduce swelling, elevating the injured muscle, using a heating pad, and giving non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications. These types of conditions range in severity. Therefore, physical examinations and imaging tests such as X-rays and MRI scans are carried out to determine the extent of the injury. In severe cases of a pulled muscle, surgery is required.
What are the Similarities Between Charley Horse and Pulled Muscle?
- Charley horse and pulled muscle are types of muscle cramps.
- Both are caused due to over-exercising and poor stretching.
- Moreover, they are involuntary in nature.
- Both cause muscle pain.
- Both are treated by applying ice and using a heating pad on the injured muscle.
What is the Difference Between Charley Horse and Pulled Muscle?
Charley horse is a condition that lasts for a few seconds and relieves immediately, while the pulled muscle is a sustained injury. Thus, this is the key difference between charley horse and pulled muscle. Charley horse is a condition where the muscle tightens or contracts on its own. A pulled muscle, on the other hand, is a condition where an injury is caused to a muscle or tendon due to tearing or overstretching of muscle. Moreover, charley horse is common in the legs or feet, while the pulled muscle is more common in the hamstrings, lower back, shoulder, and neck.
The below infographic presents the differences between charley horse and pulled muscle in tabular form for side-by-side comparison.
Summary – Charley Horse vs Pulled Muscle
Charley horse and pulled muscle are two conditions that occur in muscles. Charley horse is a condition that lasts for a few seconds with immediate relief. In contrast, pulled muscle is a sustained injury. Charley horse is a mild condition where the muscle tightens on its own. It mainly takes place in the legs or feet. The main causes for charley horse are dehydration and insufficient vitamins and minerals in the body. A pulled muscle is an injury caused in muscles or tendons due to tearing or overstretching of muscles. A pulled muscle is common in the hamstrings, lower back, neck, and shoulder. So, this summarizes the difference between charley horse and pulled muscle.
1. “Charley Horse: Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment, and Prevention.” WebMD.
2. Pietrangelo, Ann. “Muscle Strains: Symptoms, Causes, and Prevention.” Healthline, Healthline Media.