Charley Horse or Charlie Horse
A charley horse is a popular North American colloquial term for painful spasms or cramps in the leg muscles, typically lasting anywhere from a few seconds to a few hours. Also known as a "Tommy Horse". It can also refer to a bruising of the quadriceps muscle of the anterior or lateral thigh, or contusion of the femur, that commonly results in a hematoma and sometimes several weeks of pain and disability. Such an injury is known in the United Kingdom and many Commonwealth countries (and also in the U.S.) as a dead leg, granddaddy, or chopper. In Australia it is also known as a corked thigh or "corky." It often occurs in sports when an athlete is struck by an opponent's knee, in a manner like the kick of a horse, perhaps the reason for its name.
Another nuance for the term "charley horse" is used to describe simple painful muscle cramps in the leg or foot, especially those that follow strenuous exercise. These muscle cramps can have many possible causes including horonal imbalances, dehydration, low levels of potassium or calcium in the blood, side effects of medication, or, more seriously, diseases such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and neuropathy. They are also a common complaint during pregnancy or for the elderly.
The term may date back to American slang of the 1880s, possibly from the pitcher Charlie "Old Hoss" Radbourn who is said to have suffered from cramps. Another story mentions a horse named Charley that used to work at Comiskey Park, the Chicago White Sox's baseball stadium. In those days, an old, retired horse was often called "Charlie."
In the German-speaking world, it is commonly known as a Pferdekuss (horse's kiss), while in Norway it is referred to as a lårhøne (thigh hen), in the Netherlands as an ijsbeen (ice leg) and in France as a béquille (crutch). In Portugal, it is known as a paralítica, roughly translated to "paralyzer". In Japan it is known as komuragaeri (こむら返り), which is literally "cramp in the calf". In northeastern Italy, it is commonly called a lopez, while in the northwest it is called vecchia (old woman) or dura ("hard one" or "tough one"); in the south of the country, instead, it is called morso di ciuccio (donkey bite). In some areas of central Italy, it is called opossum. In Israel it is called "Regel Etz" which means wooden leg. It is called "chaca" (rat) in the Chamorro language of Guam and the Mariana Islands.