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Old 01-01-2013, 03:48 PM   #1
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Leg Cramps & back issues

Hi all. I need some feedback.

First of all I get really bad leg cramps. I did google "leg cramps" and found some sights suggesting that the causes were numerous as to why and what causes leg cramps. If I remember correctly stenosis was one possible answer as well as dehydration and tons of other issues.

I was wondering who else with back problems experiences leg cramps.

One thing I should mention, I have had leg cramps going on for maybe 20 years. In the beginning I would get severe leg cramps once or twice then I wouldnt have an episode for years on end. But lately it seems that it occurs more frequently.

One thing I noted is that the leg cramps that I get always occur at night time. They seem to strike me in the middle of the night. Sometimes 1 or 2 o'clock in the morning.

When it occurs I notice that I am awake and usually in the process or about to roll over and get out of bed for a few minutes.

The cramps have occurred in both legs. Sometimes one leg at a time and on occasions it hits both legs at the same time.

The cramps sometimes are in the lower end of the leg and minor. But it is the upper leg/thigh area that is usually hit with severe cramps. I find that I need to stand up, but have difficulty standing on the leg that is cramped. And trying to straighten my leg is almost an impossibility. I usually have to hang onto furniture or a wall to support me and move from one spot to the next.

The pain level is excruciating. On a scale of 1 to 10 it is usually a 10 PLUS.

The episodes seem to last forever, but realistically I say they can last maybe 5 minutes or so.

I think am I dehydrated? So I try to make it to the kitchen for some water. I am not sure if I can say drinking the water helps or not.

Years ago I happen to have mentioned this to a neighbor of my, an older gentlemen, who understand what I was going thru since he had similar episode. Not sure what caused his cramping. But I remember he once said he had to get to the ER because they were so severe.

But he did tell me that what worked for him was drinking Tonic water since it contained Quinine and that is a source of help for the cramps. As with the water I tried it but when I did wasn't having as many episodes back then, so if it works or not I don't know.

Has anyone else with spine issues suffered from severe leg cramping? Is it related or possibility related to the spine/stenosis or peripheral neuropathy? And if you do suffer from it what are the answers as to how to deal with the episodes?

Again they always occur in the middle of the night. Never ever during the daytime.

Any answers wold be appreciated. Thank you and Happy New Year.

 
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Old 01-01-2013, 07:18 PM   #2
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Re: Leg Cramps & back issues

I have had severe leg cramps in my left leg before I had my fusions(L3-L5). Now I have another herniated disc at L5-S1. I am now experiencing leg cramps in my right leg, my neurosurgeon says it related to the problems that having a herniated disc cause. My nerves are very irritated, i also have major sciatica in that leg. Like you they only occur while I am trying to get some sleep. Keep us posted on your situation.

 
Old 01-01-2013, 08:01 PM   #3
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Re: Leg Cramps & back issues

I too have had cramping in my legs for years. They most often happen at night but the past few years they have been starting out in the evening also. I can go weeks with not problems then they come back for several days. I have tried to push drinking more water during the day and I proably drink now more than twice the amount I used to. Still get them. I have heard also about the tonic water but I haven't tried it. Sometimes they happen after I am more active than usual but most times not. I get them in my calves, toes, ankles (these are the worst) and sometimes upper thighs. I took a long plane trip a couple of years ago and that night the cramps were almost every half hour thru the night. I almost had to seek medical attention too. I have no answers but just letting you know you are not alone. They are miserable.
Martha

 
Old 01-02-2013, 10:00 AM   #4
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Re: Leg Cramps & back issues

I too suffer from cramping too. I was told to eat more bananas, and to stretch more, because of cramps can be from potassium deficiencies. ???
My worst were just before my TLIF L-5 SI surgery. Much improved now that I am 6+ weeks post OP.
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Old 01-02-2013, 10:05 AM   #5
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Re: Leg Cramps & back issues

Thanks for the responses. I cant eat bananas because of the potassium. I already have a high potassium level and banana are high in potassium

 
Old 01-02-2013, 08:07 PM   #6
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Re: Leg Cramps & back issues

Me too. I have a banana a day and my potassium levels have been checked and are good. I've recently gone to a chiropractor and he suggested magnesium. So I have tried magnesium supplements for about a month and no real change. You mentioned stenosis. I do have a stenosis and severe arthritis in my facet joints. A little slippage on one disc but no impingements. I also have vericose veins. I'm wondering if that might be part of the problem. The doctor never mentioned any connection with a stenosis. That is interesting.
Martha

 
Old 01-03-2013, 07:37 AM   #7
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Re: Leg Cramps & back issues

I may be completely off base here, but I think the type of cramps you are talking about, pebblebeach, are related to your spine problems and aren't helped by the usual rememdies that are recommended to "normal" people...like eating bananas, drinking quinine, etc.

Muscle cramps can be caused by mineral depletion, inadequate blood supply and by strenuous exercise.

Muscle cramps are also part of certain conditions such as nerve, kidney, thyroid or hormone disorders; diabetes; hypoglycemia; and anemia. PB, sounds like you have several of these issues that naturally result in muscle cramping....

Some of the home remedies to try include taking a vitamin B complex supplement, stretching before going to bed for about 5 minutes, staying well-hydrated, keeping bed covers over the feet loose (so you aren't lying in bed with your toes pointed). You can use ice as soon as cramping starts to get it to let up. After the contraction subsides, if there is residual pain, you can apply heat.

As usual, they don't know for sure what causes noctural cramping, but I read somewhere that studies have shown an increase in electrical activity in the affected muscles.

Regarding the use of quinine, for all muscle cramping in general, I found the following from the Cleveland Clinic....

".... due to its potential for serious and life-threatening adverse effects (cardiac arrhythmias, thrombocytopenia, and hypersensitivity reactions), quinine is no longer recommended as a treatment option."

PB, is this a new symptom for you or are you just getting around to asking about the topic?

 
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Old 01-03-2013, 04:06 PM   #8
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Re: Leg Cramps & back issues

Teter:

I have had leg cramps for close to 20 years now. but in the beginning I would have 1 or 2 episodes then nothing for years on end.

It seems like they have been occuring more and more frequently lately. I agree that my cramps may be due to a combination of reasons; diabetic neuropathy; spine issues; kidney issues etc. I am not sure in my case if the source is due to one reason Not sure what the antedote is either.

I agree quinine may have been the treatment of the past. Now I don't know but I think I need to research it more.

The cramps are severe and I never know when it will occur. The only thing I know is that they occur at night time.

 
Old 01-03-2013, 06:11 PM   #9
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Re: Leg Cramps & back issues

[FONT="Verdana"][COLOR="Purple"]Pebble-

I too have these horrid charley horses as I call them. I, like you, tend to get them more at night than during the day. I have had my share of them while I am at PT and have scared more than one other visitor to the PT office. I have a wonderful physical therapist who I have been with for 7 years. He is used to these horrid things and has learned that if he puts an ice pack on the small of my back where the nerves branch out from, it helps them abate quicker. I have fallen off of the table in an effort to "get away" from them...which doesn't work of course, but I will try anything at that point. He knows how bad these suckers are by looking to see if there are tears running down my face. He has not been able to pinpoint anything that triggers them, but we have learned that there are times that I have to lay perfectly still until my legs settle down and are calm, otherwise I can be assured of a cramp or two...

My PM doc had no idea why they flare up like they do. I can go months without them, then something will trigger them to start and then I will have them for several months straight...if I can get several weeks without them I usually will have a long spell of peace. But it seems that when I have been still at night and go to move, I will get one...one so bad that my foot arches, I see stars and could pass out except for my determination not to ruin my hubby's sleep. I have found that having my Neurontin upped has helped with them being less frequent.

If you figure out the secrete to getting rid of them, please share! [/COLOR][/FONT]

 
Old 01-04-2013, 07:09 AM   #10
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Re: Leg Cramps & back issues

Ibake&pray,

I am not sure what the answer is. I know you stated you are on Neurontin. I was on Neurontin 2 times years ago. The first time I was taking 3600 mg then the second time I was taking less then a 1000 mg but cant remember the exact dosage.

For me the medication did not work at all. I was NOT on it for the leg cramps. I was put on it after my surgery in 2000.

Still searching for the answers as to the cause and the treatment.

 
Old 01-04-2013, 10:41 AM   #11
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Re: Leg Cramps & back issues

Are you taking a muscle relaxer like skelaxin or flexeral? Try researching "nocturnal cramps."

Some people respond to Benadryl.

 
Old 01-04-2013, 04:57 PM   #12
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Re: Leg Cramps & back issues

I am on Tizanidine which if I am correct is a muscle relaxant. As to the others I think I MAY have been on flexeril at some point in time but would need to double check.

Benadryl not sure if I can take it or not.

Don't forget I am living with one kidney and the kidney that I have there is kidney disease so there are many medications that I can NOT take because of the effect on the kidney.

 
Old 01-05-2013, 11:22 AM   #13
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Re: Leg Cramps & back issues

I also get severe cramps and spasms and I also have back & neck compression from spinal stenosis, herniations, and ligament thickening/buckling.

Mine are usually at their worst when my pain's at it worst and/or when I have sciatica. I have also tried all the usual remedies such as drinking more, eating bananas, and other things to no avail. Over the years, I have noticed that they seem to cooincide with my pain and compression. Mine do not always occur at night, though, they can happen anytime. I've had severe cramps in my entire leg happen at work. They get so bad that my limbs actually bend and rotate in strange ways and/or in the wrong direction and like you, the pain is excruciating. I totally know what you mean in that it's hard to stop it. I've had times where my cramps were around my ankle, knee, and thigh at the same time, so my ankle turned in, my lower leg turned in at the knee, and I couldn't even straigthen it all to put pressure on it to try to stop it. It' awful.

I also have cervical myelopathy from stenosis in my neck. Before this was even diagnosed, I had severe pain along with spasms & cramps in my shoulders, hands, fingers, my throat, and even in my face! Sometimes I would be holding a cup of coffee in a styrofoam cup when my hands would spasm. This would cause my entire hand to close up and all my fingers to to move inward toward my palm. This was not even painful, but I had no control over it and at times I've crushed my cup if I didnt' have time to put it down. A former rheumatologist I had saw this happen once and thought it was tetany. It was all caused by severe nerve and cord compression in my neck.

I have been very lucky in that most of the time, ESI injections tend to help me a lot, even if for a very short time. Every time I got one, suddenly my spasms and cramps would completely stop. To me, this is proof positive that the compression was causing the cramps and spasms.

My spine problems started 10 years ago and I've had lumbar surgery and many injections over the years. I keep getting new stenosis and even have new stenosis at prior surgical sites, which I knew was a possibility. THough I am not as bad as before my surgery, I still have a lot of pain and still get cramps and spasms...just not as much. I've tried several muscle relaxers and found Soma works best for me day to day. However, when I have a severe exasperation, I can still get spasms and cramps. When I am severe, the only thing that helps is an injection.

 
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