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Leg cramps post LESI

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,607
edited 06/11/2012 - 7:22 AM in Spinal Injections
I have had 2 steriod injections for a herniated disc at L5-S1. About a week after each one, I started having bad leg cramps at night for a week to 10 days. Every night, several times a night. My doctor says he cannot come up with a connection but twice seems too much to be a coincidence to me. Also had a day or 2 of bad leg itching with some welts around this same timeframe. Anybody else have anything like this happen and get an explanation as to why? Thanks.


  • Hey Jaws,

    I just wanted to let you know that I had the exact same thing happen to me, and my PM doc looked at me like I was crazy. I had never, ever had cramps before. They started right after the first shot, and were even worse after the second shot. And it was strange how it happened too. My left hand - and only the left - would cramp up into a "claw" about 20 times a day. That would make me laugh. But the lower-leg and foot cramps I started getting at night were not funny at all. I had a heck of a time getting them to go away.

    Anyway, like I said, the PM doc said she didn't think it was from the shots, but now that the shots have worn off, I don't get them anymore, so I strongly disagree. I read Potassium and vitamin B12 might help, and so I tried it and it might have helped a bit.

  • I also had bad leg cramps after my last ESI....I actually had bilateral SI joint injections.....and I developed severe leg and foot cramps about two weeks later. I increased my liquid intake,water and powerade, started eating a banana every day and did my calf stretches. I am doing much better now...its been 5 weeks since my injections. There is a connection.....but I think its more of a side effect to the steroids. When I had single injections done...I had just a few leg cramps...but when I had two injections done the same day......holy cow!! I will never do that again!...I hope you get some relief.
  • i hav leg cramps, they are really bad, so the hospital prescribed quinine, it did help a little, but after a while the drug stopped working, like any drug i suppose your system gets used to it : :SS
  • Thanks for the comments. And yes, my PM doctor looked at me like I was crazy too. Question 2. Did anybody also then develop hives that were only on the legs. I think it is also connected, but again PM clinic says could be allergic to stuff in shots but would have hives all over. Thanks.
  • wow my husband gets leg cramps at night they are really bad he screams and has to get out of bed and try to sleep in a chair. I did not connect the pain to PM shots Sacroiliac joint steroid injections. We are trying restless leg meds and minerals. He has had several injections over the past 4 years. He also had back surgery in 2000. Thanks for the posts I will watch to pain shots in the future.
  • I too have experienced leg cramps after epidural spinal injections of steroids. A few days after having the injection into two discs I cramped up many times every night in the calf. I had to jump out of bed and stand for a while to ward of the cramps. After a second set of injections a month later, the cramps in the calf stayed the same but I also got cramps in the thigh, hand and upper back.
  • I suffered from severe leg cramps for years until I started drinking more water!! That stopped them as long as I remembered to drink plenty of water.That also made me get up at night a lot....but not from leg cramps.
    Then my Neurologist ordered a very expensive blood test for me(over $1,000.00!!) and it showed I needed B12. The B12 shots has stopped my leg cramps and I no longer have to drink water all day long!! Life is good now except for the savage leg and foot pain. I make sure I go for my B12 injections every month too.
    Leg cramps are savage and I hope you find relief.
    Best to you.
    Hugssssssss >:D<
    Patsy W
  • hiya >:D< Yes i did but only on my right foot ~X( , but both legs were very itchy ~X(

    Angie :)
  • Hiya, >:D< Vitamin B12 is available at any health store :? and most supermarkets sell them to :) It also helps women who have bad monthlys ;) and helps with mood swings too :''( , you have to take it for about a month before you notice a change :? , but check with your doctor first :)

    Angie :H
  • O:) I am so sorry to hear that there are so many others suffering with this issue like I am. Last night my poor boyfreind stayed up with me as I tried to get a very bad attack to stop. Most nights I am up three to four times a night with these cramps. He is so sweet, this morning, he went online and found many sites that list people with the same complaints. I am so desparate for a sound night of sleep and an end to this torture!!

    One site spoke about putting a bar of soap at the foot of your bed, between the sheets, heck, I thought he was playing a joke on me this morning when he asked me if I had tried it, but many folks swear by it. I am willing to make a fool out of myself by trying it, if it works, at least it's not another pill or injection. I have also just started taking Calcium, Magnesium and Vit D tablets. My Mom swears this issue is due to low Calcium issue. I just had 8 injections in my mid back about three weeks ago, but I have been having this issue prior to receiving the injections. Any time you alter the spine, muscles and chemistry with pain meds, you have to expect some serious side effects. Don't give up, even if your Doc looks at you like you are crazy! Take you significant other in to your appt with you and have them describe your agony from their point of view. That will shut him up!!

    I had a three level fusion with 2 rods and 11 screws, and am worried that my right leg has nerve damage. I thought the cramps were from healing and increase in walking, muscles building up acid for lack of activity during recovery and such. But now I am rethinking that due to all I have read today. I do drink gatorade at night, I get so thirsty from the meds I take that water won't make the dry mouth go away, also drink mega amounts of water during the day. I do foot and leg stretches throughout the day, but to no avail. Most of the time I can feel the leg cramps coming on and most of the switch sleeping in bed and in the LazyBoy. If my feet aren't supported by a body pillow or if I stretch or more them the wrong way, the send my feet and calves into violent spasms. I am a pretty tuff cookie when it comes to pain, but these sometimes make me cray like a baby!

    Sometimes my toes curl or they separate like Dr. Spocks famous vulcan greating. Last night I could tell it was coming because my foot actually felt like it had a headache and when I rolled over to switch positions (something I do about 10 times a night) it kicked into full spasm and I couldn't get it to stop for 30 minutes. I used to only get them at night, but now I get them during the day as well. Have any of you experienced swelling in your feet as well? I don't get it often, but when I do, it's pretty bad.

    I will let you know how the soap works as well as the supplements I am just beginning the last two days. I see my surgeon this week and this is the first thing I plan to discuss with him!! Thanks for posting and helping me to understand this thing a bit better. Sorry to hear I have so much company in this suffering! Best wishes to you all!!
  • I'm glad I'm not going crazy! I've had two ESI's for my herniated L5-S1 disc. After the first shot I had some leg cramps but after the second the cramps are really bad. The calf muscle I've learned to deal with, but when both the calf and the muscle along the shin cramp up, I cannot move my foot in any direction. Lately, I've had both legs at the same time and it's a brutal way to wake up in the middle of the night. Prior to the ESI's I maybe had three leg cramps in 41 years. Since the shots I've had dozens and much more intense. I am qucikly loosing faith in these shots for fear of causing even more problems. It worries me that doctors don't list this as a possible side effect. What else are they missing?
  • I have had three L5-S1 injections in four months with exactly the same calf & shin cramping problem you describe. My right calf in particular would stay somewhat cramped for days afterward. I'm now experiencing shooting pain down my right calf and inside upper ankle, plus numbness in the outer toes and outside ankle. I've also recently noticed an occasional strange lightness in my hands and my right hand cramped up for about a minute earlier this evening. That never happened before. Feeling slightly "spastic" in my extremities and tire easily, making more mistakes when I type. Like you said, "What else are they missing?"
  • Welcome to Spine Health. Sorry to hear that you are experiencing such spasticity and pain issues. Are you under the care of a Pain Management doc, Surgeon or Neurologist? How long has it been since your last visit with your doc? Are you taking any meds to combat the spasms and pain?

    Welcome to a fantastic online community.

  • Thanks for the welcome. Yes, I have been under the care of a pain management doc over the past 4 months. Just went to see a new surgeon, as my former surgeon retired. Have another MRI scheduled this week. No other meds, except for occasional percocet and/or ibuprofen. Tried "leg cramps" homeopathic pills, but it's hard to say whether they work or not. Haven't had any bad bouts for a couple nights but right calf is still sore from the last cramp a few nights ago.
  • I've had trouble with leg cramps for years, but this thread made me start thinking about something.

    I had a rhizotomy and steroid injections (at L5/S1 and SI joints) done in mid-October. Shortly afterwards, I was waking with the most incredible spasms where the hamstring attaches at the top of the leg; one morning I bent over too quickly and tore my hamstring. I also started having nasty spasms in my ankle as well, and this is also new; my ankle, especially my left one, will turn "inwards" and I almost have to manhandle it to get it to go straight again.

    I hadn't put two and two together until I read a few posts here, but I am thinking that the increase in spasms might just have been related to my steroid injections, too.
  • My neurosurgeon tried to do a simple exam about 30 minutes after having a lumbar ESI. As soon as he tried to straighten out my leg, both my hamstring and calf knotted up so bad it took my breath away.

    Rainsgirl, the only non-prescription treatment I ever had any relief from was my husband rubbing tons and tons of heat rub into my seat and legs. It was only temporary, but long enough to allow me to fall asleep for a few hours. Glad you are under the care of a couple of docs.

  • My mom told me to rub a bar of soap on my legs where they were cramping. It worked. I also have heard of just putting a bar of soap at the foot of the bed, but never tried it.
    TracyLynne-I have the cramping like you where the inside of my ankle goes down, and the outside of my foot is pulled up toward my hip. It takes forever to "walk it Off-and it leaves your calf sore for days.
  • I can induce a hamstring cramp anytime by bending my heel to my butt. I thought there must be some connection between that "skill" and the herniated disc I recently got an epidural shot for. According to this forum, it seems the shot, not the disc, is the cause. Originally, it was pain in my right leg that caused me to go to the doc. The day after the shot, I didn't have to take Vicodin anymore. Then, I started feeling tingling in my other calf, like small cramps. The next day my left calf was sore as hell. Anyway, at this point I'm happy to trade my previous leg pain for these cramping issues.
  • My PM confirmed steroid injections can cause this as a side effect. He didn't have any suggestions to help them other then heating pads, hot water, that type of thing. I was having horrible inner thigh to hip cramps. Guess they are coming back as I had another injection, but worth the temporary side effect for the results.
  • Yes, I noticed increased and significant leg cramps after a LESI. I have only had one injection. Mentioned this to the doctor on a follow up visit and he acted like he had never heard of this. Thought maybe it was a coincidence, but then recently had a shoulder steroid injection and the same thing is happening with the leg cramps that are SO intense during the night. So upon reading all the previous posts, and my own experience, I feel there is definitely a link between steroid injections and leg cramps. It must be the steroid, as opposed to injection site, as one was lumbar, the other was shoulder.
  • I've had 3 ESI injections, 10 - 14 days apart, last one on 2/18/11. I have not had one full night of sleep since due to 3 - 5 bouts of night leg cramping. I've had puffy face, weight gain, and now day time leg cramping (night cramping also continues). I've tried calcium, mag., D, bananas, sport drinks with electrolytes, under the tongue Highland Leg Cramp pills, more water, and finally sleeping with a heating pad on my feet. Rt leg gets it the worst, I'll try the bar of soap and get back to blog/post. (BTW - Back feels great for now, it's been 2 weeks since last injection) I'
  • My cramps/spasms settled once I started taking magnesium/malic acid again; i buy something called Myalgia-X (in Canada) and it's made a huge difference.

    Right now it's a spasm in my shoulderblade that is driving me batty, despite massage, trigger point injections and my tennis ball!!

  • Seriously, rub the bar of soap on it. I know it sounds silly, but it works.
  • I have always had a problem with feet cramping at night if i dont drink enough water or too much white wine or champagne. Just thought it dehydration. Doctors offered no help, just take potassium or calcium or other supplements that never worked. about ten years ago i looked up leg cramps in a VERY old medical dictionary and they suggested a teaspoon of salt in a glass of water. Now when i get these cramps i go downstairs drink the nasty saltwater and the cramps are gone when i get back in bed.
    Now.........I had my first steroid edipural injection over a month ago. Not realizing why the cramping got worse and worse and it was every night now and much more intense up in my thighs. My Doctor had me stop all meds to see if it was my BP meds or Naproxen for my knee arthritis. Ten days ago I had my second injection and two days after the most painful nights ever. I had a flash driving to work and had my husband google leg cramps steroid injections and we found all of you! I called my Pain Mgmt Doc and he confirmed what you all say. He said the cramping should stop in two weeks. Not quite there yet and still trying to find something to help at night. I guess I will try the B12 next.
    God bless you all for the terrible pain, as only one who goes through it can relate.
  • i've never head of this! does any soap work better than another?
  • it's terrible dealing with that on top of all the other pain issues, but there are lots of people here with good recommendations!
  • I had my first steroidal injection in April and I am still having night cramps. Have yours gone away or did you find something to help? I had to get up this morning and get in a tub of warm water to finally get relief.
  • No, whatever bar soap you have handy. My mom also has leg cramps at night a lot, and she uses bar soap to stop hers.
    I don't know what is is about rubbing the damp bar of soap on the area that is cramping actually does for it, but it always stops mine.
    I guess sometimes those old fashioned treatments do work!!
    I hope it helps you! If it does, please comment because I am sure people think this is crazy!!
  • I also experienced leg cramps two days after my spinal epidural. VERY PAINFUL. Thankfully only happen three nights. My doctor said he had never heard of it either. But I had two shots and it happened the same way both times! No more of those!

  • I found a cure for myself. Requip (rx) combined wtih Klonopin (rx) for sleeping. The requip helps with the cramps but keeps you up at night and the Klonopin helps you sleep. Rarely do I have cramps and when I do, I can laugh through them. However, if I forget to take them and the weather is foggy or overcast, or cold, I pay for it. So I try never to forget to take them.
    Diagnosis for this treatment was "Restless Leg Syndrom", also, medication is also rx'd for patients with parkinson's disease.

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