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l5/s1 microD, recovering well but calf spasms. Do they stop?

steven765ssteven765 Posts: 6
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:49 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
I had my microD last wed 12/22/10. I was doing great the next day. Until 48 hours later I got violently sick. Since then I've been getting muscle spasms in my calf, mainly on the posterior medial edge. I'm curious if anyone else had muscle spasms after l5/s1? I have almost full strength, no pain (except from the muscles tightening). I'm just hoping these spasms die down.
I noticed the spasms a few times before I got sick, but now I'm on baclofen to help stop them and they still break thru at 10mg every 6-8.
I had deep tissue massage 2x a week for 12 weeks prior to the surgery so the muscles were as loose as we could get them. And being a gymnast I stretched as much as I could, I switched to swimming 1 mile every day to stay in shape for the surgery. Plus PT for weak glutes, and my own strength training still.
I'm currently doing light stretched again, and just walking thought the day; trying not to risk re injuring it. Chomping at the bit to get back in the pool and praying the cramps stop they're really bothersome and locking up the lower leg.

Just wondering if the spasms are normal and what others experiences have been? I have some in the piraformis,glute,hamstring, but they are very rare (once a day i might feel it twitch)


  • Welcome to Spine Health :H

    Are you having cramping in your muscles, or just spasms?

    I think that a lot of us do suffer with cramping, spasms and twitching after surgery. I had it before surgery, and am still having it now, after 9 months into my fusion recovery. I do wonder if it is caused by pressure on my nerves, or perhaps my nerves healing. My calves and feet get twitching which often preceeds full blown cramping. The spasms often come as I wake and start to move my legs in the morning, or when I get up after sitting for a while. I have mentioned it to my doctor and physio, but they don't seem to be worried by it, so I guess it is quite normal.

    It sounds like you are very fit, which will help in your recovery. Do continue to take things easy though. There are lots of stories on here where people have overdone it after microD or fusion surgery and have needed to have another surgery to rectify things.

  • Yes mine start up in the morning as well. My piraformis, and hams are still tight. At least for me so I'm trying to get those loose because the l4/5 nerve passes through them and I'm trying to remove possible causes. I might ask about a marcane/sarapin injection to help loosen the muscle. Anyone try that?
    My poor calf needs some time off so I've been upping the baclofin trying to get them to abate and get some massages in.
    ugh i'm almost 100% otherwise the surgery was a great choice.

  • I had some success with my calf spasms by adding potassium to my diet at my PCP's suggestion. A Banana a day or 500 mg was his suggestion. Unfortunately this hasn't helped with the muscle spascles from the retraction during my PLIF but hopefully the PT will work to get them stretched soon!
  • yes, pretty common. Be careful on the stretching until your doctor tells you it is ok and sends you to PT. Walking about 10-15 mins every 2 hours is helpful. I also find that if I do not drink enough water, they creep up pretty quickly.

    I try to take a multi-vitamin too (but have been delinquent b/c I get sick from them) which also helps.

    I'm glad you are doing well!

    I'm almost 10 months post op of my revision MicroD and I still find from time to time I get them pretty badly. When it happens, I realize I either sat too long and/or didn't drink enough water during the day.
  • So it's now 2.5 months out, all pain is gone except calf spasms. It constantly twitches, every day or two hurts, but gets tight slowly.

    I'm doing an intense bit of stretching with the PT at the moment, we both agree just to see if it works. It's not 4 days in. We're thinking about another steroid injection to see if that calms it down. Just curious if others have had success with that.

    I don't know why he washed the site with saline instead of the steroid as read in:

    "Benefits of epidural methylprednisolone in a unilateral lumbar discectomy: a matched controlled study."
  • You're not alone. For some it simply is that calves and hamstrings are tight. You just notice it more after surgery. After the microD I had tightness all the time. The PT told me it was not loosening up. She gave me stretches to do for both. Also told me to go see a massage therapist. That did help. That person also showed me some other stretches. My surgeon gave me some muscle relaxers to try. They help a bit but not worth it long term. I'd prefer to address it naturally.

    After that I ended up with getting the level fused that had the microD. The tightness was just as bad. Now I workout about 5 days a week. 1 day is just stretching. 1 day off. I do basic stretches before and after exercise. My hamstrings and calves are still tight. They give me less pain though because I am working and stretching them.
  • Hey there..sounds like you are still doing well. Super to hear. I also found as I increase activity or do something slightly new and my body mechanics are off...my spasms (either foot or calves) act up. I try to 'wait it out' but I will admit that I have a prescription for Norflex (orphenadrine I think) which is a mild muscle relaxer left over and my surgeon told me for extreme cases, not to feel bad about taking one. Ususally if they have be doubled over, I will take one but this has really only happened 2x since my surgery a year ago.
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