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Twitching calves and painful feet after fusion

LostYouthLLostYouth Posts: 8
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:35 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
I want to know if anyone has ever experienced twitching calves and painful feet after having a lumbar fusion. I had a fusion at L4-L5 L5-S1 at the end of April. My back feels great and the radiating pain is gone, but I have been experiencing the twitching calves and painful feet for a couple of months now. It never stops.

My surgeon sent me for an ultrasound for blood clots in my legs which was negative. Then he sent me for a blood test to see if I was vitamin deficient, which was also negative.

I take 4mg Zanaflex 3x a day and that seems to help. The surgeon does not know why I am having the twitching and foot pain and claims he has never seen this before in a fusion patient.

It seems to me that the twitching calves and painful feet could be related to the fusion, but the surgeon does not feel this way. Now he told me to stop the 4mg Zanaflex. He said that the Zanaflex may be helping the symptoms, but may be causing them as well. Maybe that is the case, so I stopped the Zanaflex yesterday, we will see what happens.

Has anyone else experience the same or similar symptoms after a lumbar fusion?


  • i'm with you in thinking the symptoms were caused by surgery. it has only been four months and over time the nerves may calm down. one drug you may want to ask your dr about is neurontin. i noticed that when i was on it it helped twitching in legs. also it can help pain caused by nerves.....pete
  • ..is the technical name for the leg twitches..mine look like popcorn under the skin!...and the nerve pain in my feet is "walking on glass" type of thing..you also? My MS said it's from the manipulation of the nerves as they do the fusion, etc. The retraction of the nerve roots, especially. My L4/5/S1 nerves are sooo shot & lots of scar tissue now binding them down. Not much to do about it, but Valuim helps @ night. Have you tried that?

    For me it's more annoying than painful, altho sometimes the legs both twitch & cramp...feet always feel like burning/zapping pain.

    I can't beleive your doc has never "seen" this b4..my NS said it's quite common & altho it is disconcerting to watch & feel it, it's nothing major, he said. The nerves are either "waking up" or "dying" (he said) & both events can cause the same symptoms.

    I'm over 1.5 yrs out & I still have this everyday. And always feels like I'm wearing socks even when I'm not!

    Anyone else??

  • Lakeside -

    The way you describe you foot pain is a good description, "like walking on glass." I described it to my surgeon by telling him it feels like my feet are broken.

    Anyway, the twitching does not hurt at all, which is nice. It's just that when I take the Zanaflex, the twitching stops and so does the pain in my feet. Very difficult to sleep as well.

    I would have thought this was common as well, but my surgeon says not so. Maybe it is because he is an OS and not a NS. Who knows?

    I feel very fortunate right now though, to have my back pain and radiating pain to be completely gone. Some foot pain is a small price to pay for that.
  • Jay, I agree that foot pain rates less than back pain, tho I still have back pain but different now after the fusion....we get so good @ discerning what "types" of pain and/or "layers" of pain we have, don't we, sad to say...!

    But yes, NS may know more about these events than an OS, but you'd think he'd have heard of it b4?! My NS even suggested an EMG (OWW!) to see just what was damaged, but conceded to me when I protested that we KNOW there's damage, what can a person do, etc..

    Just wait, I guess. Yes, sleeping is funny sometimes, as I think during the daytime we are more distracted from all this but at night, when we try to power-down, we notice more of the "zaps/twitches/jolts/etc" ---some nights I'm jumping around like a bag of popcorn in the microwave! And I am, as you are, glad the twitching doesn't hurt. Nice to have something that DOESN'T hurt! :) "Broken feet"--yes, that's about it. You describe that well, also. Broken feet, walking on glass, haha!

    Carry on! Fusion is an adventure, to say the least!
    Glad your radiating pain is gone...that, I think, ranks up there w/ the worst of the worst.

    Take care, Jay!

  • i havnt had surgery yet but have been experiencing the twitching, tingling/zapping for several months now. My 4 year old thinks the twitching is a cool trick and wishes he could lo it :) . I'm hoping those things will eventually go away post op. I had my pre op appt today and my NS is confident my surgery will be successful since they feel like they know what nerves are causing the problem, he did say it could take up to a year for complete healing but said they have a good view via the MRI of where the impingment is and my symptoms match. I go in on Monday for my l4-s1 TLIF. I'll let you all know how it goes.
  • I hope your surgery goes well and that you come out of it better than you are today. We are all here to support you.
  • I'm two years post L4-S1 fusion with rods and screws. Back still hurts. Feet hurt like crazy! 24/7 they ache, they feel hot, they feel wet, pins and needles up to both ankles, terribly sharp pains around the outside edges and toes. If you picture a wet barefoot footprint on cement, that's the area that hurts most. It's done nothing but get worse over time. I remember (actually I've kept a pain diary) right after surgery complaining of a single needle-stick feeling in my right heel.
    I'm currently on Fentanyl patch, Tramadol, Lyrica and Cymbalta daily, and Lortab and Flexeril as needed (which is also daily). I've been on Social Security Disability for a year or so. My NS left the country-really. My PM doc has never heard of foot pain without the leg pain, which comes and goes with me.
    I do what I can around the house and spend at least part of each day curled up in my recliner. I sleep more in my chair than in my bed. This is really starting to take a toll on my cheery disposition, but I've not found any relief without being too stoned to know my own name.
    Oh yeah, one more detail. I'm a Workers' Comp case in Texas.
    Sorry for the bad news, but thanks for listening.

  • But, I do twitch alot. My toes will move all by themselves, back and forth or curl up sometimes. (this is sometimes painful but mainly not) My daughter thinks that part is cool. My legs twitch everyday, even though I take a muscle relaxer everyday. I have gotten used to it I suppose. Like it? No.

    One Love,

  • i've had this kind of pain for about 4 moths now and i haven't had the fusion done yet, does that meen it will get worse?
  • I had L 4/5 fusion in July 2008 and though most days now I don't even think about my back I do still have some twitches in my left calf. It is much less frequent now (not even every day) and the cramping I had in that calf for a few weeks after fusion is gone. For a few weeks after the surgery I also had the sensation of my feet - especially the left one - being very hot. Usually after I went to bed at night. I never even mentioned it to my surgeon because a friend told me she had the same symptoms after her fusion and they finally went away. My twitches never really bothered me very much but I still notice them occasionally if I have been on my feet longer than usual.

    However, I would suggest that anyone who has this to the extent that it interferes with activity (or sleep) might want to pursue the issue with a neurologist.

  • Debi,
    I doubt anyone here would try to predict the outcome of a fusion surgery. I'm certain I wouldn't. I will tell you that I am glad I had the fusion, and I do feel better now, even with the chronic pain, than I did immediately before surgery. Everyone is built a little different, doctors included, and personally I wouldn't trust anyone who tried to guarantee the outcome of something with as many variables as a lumbar fusion. Gather as much information as you can about your own case and make the most informed decisions you can. Other than that; eat well, exercise, be honest with your doc, and pray a lot.

    "Experience is what you get when you don't get what you want".
    I'm not a doctor, nor do I play one on TV. My posts are simply my experiences and my opinions.
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