Is it still called a “charley horse” if the kink is under your rib cage?
I get crazy muscle cramps, sometimes in the oddest of places. Not long after starting on testosterone, I noticed an increase in spontaneous painful muscle cramps in my hamstrings–the classic “charley horse.” After 6 months or so, they waned. More recently however, I’ve been getting muscle cramps and “seize-ups” in my back, chest and hips, and find myself having to stretch a lot more. They feel the same as a charley horse, but they’re not in the usual thigh or calf locations.
According to the great hive mind of Wikipedia, one cause of charley horses is hormonal imbalance. (Others are dehydration, low levels of potassium or calcium in the blood, side effects of medication, or more serious disease.) WebMD also lists “steroids” as a cause of muscle cramps (nighttime leg cramps, more specifically.) Muscle cramps have been linked to testosterone in these similar accounts from trans men as well.
A quick search online pulls up pages loaded with ways to “cure” muscle cramps. Here are a couple of my favorites:
- All Calm is a restless legs syndrome cure that also treats leg cramps. It has one ingredient: “a pure, refined, concentrated, natural and safe magnesium citrate.” Are we talking about this magnesium citrate, the pre-op bowel prep laxative? Guess not.
- Here’s a delicious sounding solution: drink 1 cup of pickle juice. The thinking behind this is that the cramping muscle may require sodium not potassium, and gulping down some brine is the next best thing to a main line of triple X saline. Yeah… no.
Presumably, any hormonal imbalance that may be causing my muscle cramps will restore itself over time, as my body continues adjusting to the “new fuel” of testosterone. Regardless, I’ll continue to keep an eye on my blood work reports. To minimize the effects of muscle cramps, I can monitor hydration and the intake and absorption of potassium, calcium, magnesium, and vitamins C and E (which off the top of my head all seem fine.) Herbs such as Valerian and Horse Chestnut might also be helpful if the problem persists.
Did you get more frequent muscle cramps after starting testosterone? How long did they persist for?
Well, I’m only in two shots so far. But I did have leg cramps at night after the first one and also, I feel like I have to stretch during the night while I’m in bed. You know, not cramps per se but a feeling that you just need to stretch your whole body out. I thought it could be dehydration because I’m a gardener and it’s been hot weather as of late. Maybe not…..I have upped my salt intake and my water intake and that’s helped with the cramps but not the feeling of needing to stretch.
I have been on Test Cypionate 200mg/wk, now for about 6 weeks, and I was glad to read your comment. I had this terrible stretching at night like I my legs were being pulled out of my body, then the terrible pain on inner thighs. I think that is groin pain from atrophy, but, the legs at the tendons have pain and can’t move my legs while laying down because of the pains. Walking is fine though.
I find it get them more and more and the biggest culprit is water. I find if I drink double what I used to, that seems to keep it at bay. Means I usually have to have a washroom nearby but it does settle after a while.
I’ve been an athlete – mainly a runner – my whole life and have always gotten muscle cramps (I call them charley horses too). Ninety percent of the time I get the cramps in my calves and it’s usually around a hard workout or if I’m beginning to get back into shape. I tended to think that not stretching enough and not hydrating enough was the source of my cramps. I haven’t noticed a change in muscle cramp pattern since beginning testosterone.
I definitely get more muscle cramps now. I get them often– several times a week and usually for no reason at all. Before starting T (I’m at about 3 months, 250 mg/2 weeks testoviron) I cannot remember when I last had a muscle cramp.
I figure it’s probably because I’m building muscle so fast now.
I pulled a muscle in my neck while taking off a binder when I was drunk (sooo stupid) and it’s taking over 2 weeks to heal because it is so hard to resist the urge to stretch.
Yup. I get a lot more muscle cramps now. In addition to cramps, I also find that things get crazy tight if I don’t stretch, particularly my Achilles tendon. I don’t know what’s up with that.
After about 6 months on T, the cramps got better but the tightness in my tendon has not. It’s really, really annoying because I hardly ever get through a run without having to stop at least once to restretch.
A guy just did a video about this topic.
I wonder if we started doing surveys about these kinds of things, if we could submit them to the drug companies or something so that they could be officially registered as side effects.
Checking out that video, thanks!
Muscle cramps aren’t listed as a side effect in my Delatestryl leaflet, but drug companies need control groups for that kind of thing.
I’ve been on T for 6 months and i’m getting way more muscle cramps now — for me, it appears to be a combination of water/calcium-mag issue. I also get the need to stretch more.
And they’re *epic* stretches, aren’t they?!!
Do you have muscle soreness in the leg where you’re injected? And how long does it tend to last, or does it go away after you’ve been injecting for a while?
Depends on how good my technique is on shot day. Sometimes I feel nothing, other times I have some ache in my thigh for a couple of days.
I get muscle cramps more often too.. and twitches in weird places.
While sitting doing nothing yesterday, I got a muscle cramp in each of my hamstrings, separated by about 4 minutes. Later, I had the same thing happen, one in each calf, only this time I was riding my bike at the time and I almost crashed! I also got one yesterday under my tongue—so bloody painful! I’m going to try drinking more water.
Totally of topic..but a good 15-20 minute ice massage right after injection will help stop the muscle from cramping. Also one needs to remember that T reshapes body mass. Increases in muscle will force some joints to operate in a different (usually beneficial) manner. This may be the reason behind “super stretching” as for the cramps..I don’t get them but they sound annoying.
Interesting tip, thanks! I don’t get a muscle cramp after injection, though I sometimes have some local pain in that area the day after for a day or two. I wonder if the icing would help with that? Thankfully, I haven’t experienced any joint pain—a minor miracle given my history of knee problems. I would concur about the relationship between changing muscle mass and “super stretching.” I feel like Lou Ferrigno over here, not just busting out of my clothes but out of the seams of my skin.
I’m so glad to read that someone else is having these random cramps.
I get them too, random parts of the body, random times, not related to any activity. Mostly a ominous twinge like the muscle is just about to cramp.
I also had a nasty surprise a few months ago when I dashed across a street – nothing out of the ordinary but this time a loud snap and I had a tear in my calf muscle.
I’m currently on enanthate 250 @ .75ml every two weeks.
Yes I’ve had leg cramps that i’ve NEVER had in my life! I’m sitting at my desk in pain now, yes the achilles in my left leg as someone else mentioned is really painful, for no reason!
I rode my bike to work and went for a walk in the evening, all normal stuff for me, so these cramps are unusual.
I’m going home to soak in a bath and rub some deep heat in, ouch!
I’ve a pain in right hip-waist when I sleep. I still don’t know it is a muscle cramp or not. Anyone has ever get the same problem? I’m on test.E 0.75mg/week
Totally more cramps!!! I had shocking cramps in my Achilles and up into my calf for the first 2 months, now I’m noticing them in my side and back muscles, deep heat, baths, stretching are all good but they seem to be resolving more now (4 months on sustanon now)
I’ve been searching all over the net with regard to this topic. In particular muscle ache, joint ache and muscle cramping. I am in my 4th month of testosterone cypionate @ 200mg (1CC) every other week. I alternate injections into my glutes. It wasn’t until about 2 weeks ago I started aching in my shoulders and finding it difficult to raise my arms over my head (slipping my binder on and off) as well as being achy upon my sleep positioning. Now my biceps are feeling sore (and I have not been working out at all). I am also enduring sporadic cramping in my upper thighs as well as my calves (Charlie Horse) also getting major hip cramps which are quite painful but they usually don’t last more than a minute. Is it safe to assume all these symptoms are “growing pains” due to tissue and bone density/growth?
Thanks for dropping by, Denny! I’m not a medical expert but I attribute the muscle cramps to muscle tissue growth. Good old “growing pains.” They’ll stop after a while. There was a period I went through where I had them a LOT and they were intense and in weird places (neck, under the chin/tongue = OWWCH!!) I remember getting a cramp in each calf at the same time while I was riding my bike. I had to pull some super moves to stop the bike and not fall off. It’s been a long time since I experienced those cramps though (now 2+ years on T.)
You could try increasing calcium and magnesium intake (food sources, if possible.) Increasing hydration would probably help too, as well as daily stretching.
I noticed you switched your T from cypionate to enanthate. I started out with enanthate and had terrible tight muscles (on it for almost 2 years), my doctor switched me to cypionate and I feel a million times better. To be fair, I also stopped taking a BP med that was killing me, but I do believe enanthate made my muscles tighter. Also, acne is worse on cypionate than enanthate. Those are my observations…I know this in an old post…but thought I’d add my two cents in case your still experiencing muscle tightness.
I know this is old, but the cramps compel me! lol, I’ve been on t now for almost two years and only recently started having muscle cramps. I switched to a weekly shot cycle, but very low dose (1/4ml) of 200mg testosterone cypionate. I’ve started to get night leg cramps, like thigh/hamstring on the day of my injection or the day after. its super annoying and makes it more difficult to sleep. I’ve also noticed more morning achyness but I don’t know if its related.
I suspect the muscle cramps will go away, Jakob. I think they’re part of the your body adjusting to T and it will happen at varying times person to person. You could try things like drinking more water, increasing potassium, and warming your thigh muscle and the T before injecting. Might help in the meantime.
[ been on t over a year and the cramps are still there. i play guitar and my hands cramp so bad after a song or two that i may have to leave the band if i dont stop them? i need help and fast!!!
Paul, you can’t leave the band, man!! Do these cramps feel like charley horse cramps? I don’t remember exactly when they went away, but I’m pretty sure that by 1 year on T my muscle cramps had stopped. So I’m wondering if it’s possible that you’re experiencing something else, like carpal tunnel. How long have you been playing guitar and what kind of music are you playing? I know Bela Fleck had to have a masseuse in the studio with him when he recorded one album—the music was just that demanding and his forearm was cramping up. Massage, acupuncture could help as treatments, though it would be helpful to know exactly what’s going on here. Most importantly, did you try the solution mentioned in this post, drinking a cup of pickle brine!?! 😉
I have been on t therapy for about 8 years now. For the last 2 years I have been having leg cramps. They are worse at night and are mainly in my right ankle. I also get throbbing leg cramps when I elevate my legs in my recliner.
The timeline you describe doesn’t line up with the presumption in this post that muscle cramps are a transitory side effect that dissipate after a time on T. It makes me wonder if the source of your muscle cramps is actually something else? Hard to say. Thanks for posting!
I’ve not been bothered much by muscle cramps (though I do get them occasionally, just once in a while in my legs) as much as I’ve been cramping like I’m on my period and my knees swell up and get sore as hell (which always happened when I got my periods. At least the hot flashes and nausea are staying away). I’ve been on T for 5 months now and the cramping started just in the past month or so. Any ideas?
Thanks for your comments, Teaque. I haven’t experienced what you describe but I have heard these types of complaints before. It could be something that subsides as your body adjusts to testosterone, or it could get worse, in which case you’d want to get checked out by your doctor and possibly a gynecologist. If it doesn’t improve, hysterectomy could be on your horizon.
I’m glad I found this. I have a rather odd situation. I won’t go into everything here, but I have a blog about fibromyalgia, hormone imbalance and gender identity that I will link to. Anywho, at first, testosterone injection improved my muscle cramping from a terrible hormone imbalance that I had. But now, week 5, I feel achy and sore like I overdid it at the gym….. Only I haven’t been. I wake up sore and achy and have cramp in weird places, like under my jaw, in a hip, my side, my pecs. I think it may be growing pains as well. It’s nice to hear that I am not alone. Thanks for your post.
I started t theropy 2 months ago. I get the same cramps (charley horses) you mentioned. They start sporadically and last a couple days and disappear as quickly as they start. Groin and ham strings mostly but also forearms, back, and abs.
Oh yea, as for intensity, the groin hurts so bad I can’t lift my foot more than a couple inches off the floor. I have to put my shorts on the floor and step into them to put them on. But tomorrow… Maybe no pain at all. Strange. No truely pulled muscle ever heals over night.
Hello. I found this page while searching for information on cramps and pain due to Test E. My forearms, hands, wrists, lower back, are always sooo achy and stiff! I can barley squeeze very firmly with my hands and so I’m wondering what to do. I think that I’ll stop for a while and see what happens. I do 1 shot of 250 ml per week.
Found this while researching, as well. I have should/neck/spinal injuries which have caused a degenerative condition and scoliosis, and — when I had kids — pregnancy caused some serious hip dysplasia. All of that, along with a sensitivity to Lortab, caused constant and agonizing cramps in my hips, groin, lower back, and legs, as well as a more generalized, full-body form of RLS.
I’ve not yet started on T… that will likely be in the next month… but, I have been taking moderate doses [from 25mg and gradually increasing to 75 mg] of DHEA daily, which has already made a marked difference in my musculature and weight distribution over the last four months. I’ve noticed that the cramping has also returned with a vengeance. This is most obvious in my hips, lower back, shoulders and neck, with the aches and pain near-constant — and occasionally bordering on debilitating. As others have mentioned, I also get the threatening twinges through my ankles, shins and calves, and will get spasms and knots under my ribs and across my chest.
Yes, hydration helps. So does potassium, but only a little. A supplement of calcium, magnesium and zinc is pretty much a must, if you suffer from constant cramping. And, a calcium supplement is a good idea for trans men, anyway. Yes, pickle juice /does/ work, as unpalatable as it may sound. There’s actually been studies done on it for years, and — as a former runner/freerunner — I can attest to its anti-spasmodic properties. The same with mustard, and… well, anything else containing high levels of vinegar. Scientists believe it triggers a reflex through the nerve endings in the back of the throat that signals the brain to throw the “off switch” on muscle contractions. Whatever it is, it works almost instantaneously.
Quinine — if one isn’t allergic — is a good preventative, and is most easily procured for general consumption via tonic water. I always keep a liter-sized bottle of it on hand, when I work out. You can also get salves and pills with it for cramps from most pharmacies that carry homeopathic remedies. I also have taken to consuming a lot of hemp seed. It provides large doses of phosphorous, magnesium, zinc, and manganese — all things most folks don’t get nearly enough of, anyway — and has been keeping at least the full-blown charley horses at bay.
I’m more than a bit nervous about how my muscles will react to going onto T… but, at the same time, am hoping the “growing pains” I’ve been experiencing with the DHEA will help smooth the way, and I’ll be over the worst of it pretty quickly. I’m horrible about remembering to update/check back on things. BUT, if I remember, I’ll swing back by here, and let you know how it’s going. And if anything I’ve been doing up to this point continues to work once I start on my shots.
Thank you for your comment, and for adding this helpful info. I think you’re right: DHEA now will likely ease growing pains once you’re on T. (That said, I hope you’re cautious with DHEA. I’ve heard about many negative experiences with it, including unwanted feminization.) Fortunately, this is all a matter of adjustment and muscle cramps do subside once a body is used to testosterone.
I’ve been on testosterone enanthate for 4.5 months and have had night cramps in my legs and sometimes other places since about 3 months ago.
I’ve been on trt 200mg a week for a year. Results are great but I get severe cramps to my ab muscles in the gym, like, can’t move my entire body for 20 seconds severe. Other than that I haven’t been cramping so I’ll deal with it.
I was on T for about a year then pulled off it while I had gastric bypass surgery to eliminate my Type II diabetes (5 shots of insulin a day) and to hopefully lessen the 15 Rx drugs I was taking for pretty much everything. The good news is that it worked. I am no longer diabetic. I take only 3 Rx now and none for diabetes or hypertension. I’ve lost 65 pounds so far since Feb 10th of this year. XL to L and M. 40 ” waist to 32″. I just restarted my T 3 days ago. It’s Testim a topical application. Already the muscles around my left side (rib area) toward my back and clear around to the middle part of my stomach are just plain sore! Lidocaine patches don’t work, Tylenol is a joke, and I seem to remember having this problem when I first started this stuff. Hopefully it will pass over time. I have one question, does anybody know of a tonic water that does not have carbonation? Yeah, I know, sounds stupid but after my surgery I cannot have anything carbonated. Thanks guys.
Hi Jeastin! You can buy tonic syrup or even make your own (you’ll need to source cinchona bark):
Man I’m glad I found these statements thought I was going crazy ! Been on Test a few month’s now and in the morning while in bed I feel like stretching so hard I rip my own body parts off it feels so good but weird I just want to keep stretching and starching . Obviously the Test plus I take hi blood pressure pills that remove salt that must not help any . Anyhow more water more minerals more stretching 🙂
My pituitary gland hasn’t functioned for about 10-years now. I’ve been on Androgel since diagnosis. I get severe muscle tightness/cramps and go through incredible stretching exercises to relieve. All bloodwork is fine. By design, Androgel goes to the muscles that are being worked out at the time. This means lower & upper legs, lower & upper back, neck & shoulders, arms, hip flexors, etc. I’ve been self-diagnosing this issue for years and even my Endo guy agrees. At initial diagnosis my T-level was 150. At 2-pumps it’s now just under 400. Note, at one point my leg muscles were so tight that the blood wouldn’t flow back to my heart. I use a foam roller (hard 6″ x 36″) on all muscles in addition to an inversion table and much stretching. At 68 years old, I ride 30-miles/day on my outdoor bike and 60-minutes/day on my recumbent bike indoors in the winter. Thanks for allowing me to vent.
Hi – I’ve been getting back pain. More so around my flexors upper hips. It seems to come after sitting even for a few minutes. The pain is crippling but if I work through it – it disapates till I sit again. Also have cramps in my calves and shin splints.
I’ve taken test in the past with no side effects as my doctor prescribed arimedex (1mg/week). Now I switched doctors and back on test with no arimedex and I’m having major water retention but feel dehydrated. I feel it’s all related. I plan to request arimedex to see if it clears the problem.