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Muscle spasms and Neurontin

KinneyKKinney Posts: 13
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:55 AM in Chronic Pain
I had a unsuccessful cervical foraminotomy at C7 4 months ago.

The upper back spasms between my shoulder blades and upper trap are as bad as ever. No amount of stretching helps.

I was just prescribed Neurontin. Does this drug help with chronic muscle spasms?



  • is generally used for neuropathic pain. There are a number of muscle relaxants that many people take to lessen muscle spasms.

  • Two treatments that have worked for me.
    1. Remedial or sports massage will tease out the tangled muscle fibres and let them relax.
    2. Magnesium will stop the muscle spasms permanently when you have regained your magnesium levels.

    Simple. No drugs needed.
  • Hi Kinney;

    I also just had my 2nd foraminotomy (opposite side this time) about 6 weeks ago. I so know your pain with the spasms, I have the same problem areas. As sleeprgirl said, Neurontin is prescribed for neuropathy. For muscle relaxants, I've been on flexeril and baclofen (at different times, of course). I had to switch due to the one losing it's effectiveness, as meds tend to do after a while.

    Are you doing any pt? Mine does some light massage work which helps so much, for at least a few hours anyways, but any relief, no matter how short-lived is much appreciated. If you're not able to go for massages, I've also got this little massage thing I got at walmart. It's small, fits in the palm of your hand, and has 4 prongs that vibrate. I use that sometimes and does the trick for a little while as well.

    Are you in pain management? I also get trigger point injections, which also help for a few hours. You can also try a heating pad or hot pack for 20 minutes at a time, several times a day (it's something my pt also suggested with those timelines, but I told her that when I do have the heat on, it's usually for hours. She said that works too, lol). I find the heat also helps loosen up the muscles, that or a hot shower. I haven't been doing either of those 2 things too often though, in this heat wave we've been having. You'd think that with this hot weather we'd be good to go, eh? lol Another good tool is a tens unit. There've been times when I've had mine on all day or night. Also helps with nerve pain for me, too, and works well with the heating pad in conjunction with it. If your insurance doesn't cover tens, I know you can sometimes find a good deal on them on e-bay.

    What has your surgeon said, as the surgery didn't help you? did he give you any sort of plan? If you're not already, I would recommend getting a referral to a pain management clinic.

    Anyways, hope some of that is helpful to you. I hope that your spasms go away and that you find relief soon. Take care;
    APROUD CANADIANveteranButNOTa doctor, my thoughts are my own
  • Put all thoughts of surgery, drugs and injections aside for a moment, and just think about the muscles.
    Google muscles spasms and magnesium and you will see that a magnesium deficiency-very common-can cause muscle spasms.
    Here's a link to get you started:

    Mg is the ONLY thing that stopped my muscle spasms and chronic headaches caused by contracting back and neck muscles.
  • Of course, it's always important to have blood tests done to check all levels, but for those of us who don't have magnesium deficiency, we do have to look at other things to help...
    APROUD CANADIANveteranButNOTa doctor, my thoughts are my own
  • This is not one that a blood test can be used for as most Mg is in the muscles.
    Symptoms are the first sign of deficiency, also estimates of 70-80% of all people being deficient.
    The only path is to start taking it in small doses, then building up and see what happens.

    I can understand your scepticism that such a simple thing could have such dramatic benefits and be outside of the usual medical arena. Sounds like one of those miracle things with magnets, copper, crystals, chanting and so on.
    My chemist was the first one to suggest Mg when i mentioned I was taking Restavit for muscle tension. Bought the powder but didn't notice any benefits.
    Last year my daughter suggested it agin, but this time with a stronger version, magnesium oil. She has a long-term illness herself and researches treatments exhaustively, so I took her advice.
    Within a week i thought I was better, but didn't want to assume anything.
    I increased the dosage and after 2 weeks had definite lessening of muscle pain and headaches. Now, 18 months later, i am completely free of my awful headaches and muscles spasms.
    All thanks to magnesium!
  • Peter B said:
    This is not one that a blood test can be used for as most Mg is in the muscles
    Blood tests can be ordered to check magnesium levels: http://labtestsonline.org/understanding/analytes/magnesium/tab/test

    I get my bloodwork done twice a year, as I do tend to be anemic, and get D and B12 deficiencies. My pcp also orders for magnesium, as I also have an abnormality on my parathyroid.

    Muscle cramping and spasms can be caused by many problems, not just magnesium deficiency, such as spinal cord injuries, herniated or protruding discs and nerve damage. The muscles contract in order to protect the instability to an extent that they can get strained and over stretched.

    While it is important to know that deficiencies can be A cause of muscle spasms, it is not the only cause, so taking magnesium will not necessarily help, and in fact can be detrimental if you do not have a deficiency and introduce too much into your system. Which is why it's important to talk to your doctor before taking any supplements, and have your blood tested.
    APROUD CANADIANveteranButNOTa doctor, my thoughts are my own
  • Im a paramedic and back numbskull up on this issue. Herbs and vitamins etc are in fact drugs to the body and if you start taking things without at least talking with a pharmacist you will induce other problems. I have ran several cardiac arrythmias and other less severe cases because people took something that is "natural" . Please people be smart and get cleared by your dr before you take ANTHING . If you want magnesium help go take an Epsom salt bath just don't drink your bathwater unless you want diarrhea.:)
  • Blood tests aren't valid for anything contained in the tissues. Mg is not in the blood in any level to indicate your overall levels.
    Read up on it.

    Being a paramedic doesn't give you any credence in this topic.
    Have you had an emergency ingesting of magnesium to handle?

    Neither of you have had any experience with magnesium, and both have closed minds.

    I'd have thought that you come to these forums to learn something new as the medical profession has been unable to help with your problem.
    So why the delight in squashing something that:
    a) has ample evidence of its safety and effectiveness over many years-it is not new.
    b) will probably help the originator of this post with what appears to be a simple bout of muscle spasm, which we all get at one time or another.
    c) has cured my 25+ years of muscle tension pains.

    Not all treatments are available through the medical profession.
    By all means run it past the GP, that is what you would normally do, but just expect a blank look as they are just not up to speed on diet deficiencies.

    Here's an interesting quote on the relative dangers of vitamins and drugs.

    No one in their right mind, or wrong mind, wants harmful side effects. Adverse drug events are routinely accepted and heroically endured, even though, reports the Associated Press, “More than 1.5 million Americans are injured every year by drug errors in hospitals, nursing homes and doctor's offices, a count that doesn't even estimate patients' own medication mix-ups. . . (O)n average, a hospitalized patient is subject to at least one medication error per day.” (4) More than 100,000 patients annually die, just in the USA, from drugs properly prescribed and taken as directed. (5)

    On the other hand, a review of poison control center reports reveals that vitamins have been connected with the deaths of a total of ten people in the United States. . . over the last twenty-three years. (6) The American Association of Poison Control Centers (AAPCC), which maintains the USA’s national database from 61 poison control centers, alleges the following number of deaths from vitamins in each given year.

    None from magnesium.


  • Sorry that your thread seems to have sparked a little debate between a few members. It happens and please don't let it distract you from your search for information.

    Many years ago the Japanese explored the use of Neurontin as a muscle relaxant. If you type any of that into a search string you can find a few articles to read in regards to it.

    If you think about the fact that many times muscle spasms are caused by nerves that are "unhappy" for one reason or another, then trying to "calm" those nerves could theoretically ease the muscle spasm.

    Hard to really know why your doc prescribed it for you, other than asking him/her specifically.

    We all of us try to find a way to combat spasms, like most medications, what works for one person may not work for another. I hope your doc is able to find a way to help you with your spasms.

  • Peter , as a matter of fact I have however due to hippa laws i am prohibited from discussing details. Sounds to me like you are a salesman rather than just a patient pointing out what works for them as hagland said . What numbskull and i are trying to convey to others is that we do not dispute that this is one potential for spasms but each circumstance is different and if people who are desperate for relief ( which is all of us) just try suggestions from others without proper guidance they could be causing trouble for themselves . As a matter of fact my license as well as experience does give me the ability to assure others that consultation with drs regarding whether new therapies are right for them is valid and good medical practice. I'm sorry you are offended but i think you are not understanding people can be hurt by just taking "supplements "'. If it worked for you then that is fabulous but it can harm in excess. Im not going to get into any Further argument with you on this subject.
    Kinney, sorry to hear your still dealing with this crap post surgery . I'm a low back gal so i couldn't imagine what it would be like to deal with the pain up there . Good luck with finding therapies that you and your medical team explore in trying to give you some relief.
  • Good points, C and Michelle
    APROUD CANADIANveteranButNOTa doctor, my thoughts are my own
  • I guess I don't see the issue with considering all avenues to help one's pain...Both medicinal and non medicinal treatments...as well as supplements...

    I know that for myself...just changing to all Organic (not vegetarian...just all natural)...as well as focusing on anti-inflammatory foods (soy, cherries, etc) have made a huge difference in my energy levels as well as some muscle pain..

    Magnesium has been proven for many years to help with inflammation...The Rheumatologist who diagnosed me back in 1995 with Fibromyalgia had me take this supplement along with Flexeril as a muscle relaxer when needed (also to help with getting to stage 4 sleep)..He was one of the first in the country to recognize and specialize in Fibromyalgia and CFS...He was at Georgetown Univ. Hospital back then and now runs one of the top Clinics in the US in Michigan for these issues..

    As well as being low in Potassium is responsible for many muscle cramps as well.

    I always believe in starting with the easy fixes first...and then moving towards medication and/or surgery as the last resort...I have had 3 cervical fusions...and am prescribed opiates as long term pain management...but I also use daily exercise, yoga/stretching, acupuncture, PT, aqua therapy, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, a muscle relaxer when needed..a sleep med, and eat all Organic...do not smoke, and use a multi-vitamin, Vit D, C, and Magnesium supplements..

    Again...I think it's critical to work with a knowledgeable Dr. who wants to treat the whole body and doesn't just throw medicine as the only option or rush to surgery...nor should they fear medicine in addition to other modalities...

    And yes PLEASE check with your Dr. as well as your Pharmacist so they can monitor and see if there are any interactions with any medicine that one already takes..

    As well as with all supplements including D and C...it can be unhealthy to take too much..So that is why it's good to be tested for certain levels before taking in high doses.

    And just an FYI...but it's HIPAA (lots of people accidentally make the mistake to put two P's instead of A's...)

    It stands for The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act...

    I was also a Volunteer Firefighter/EMT for 10 years..:)

    So I think that there should be room for all different views on these boards that believe in all sorts of modalities to help those in chronic pain..

    I'm actually friends with my PM Dr. outside our appts. for the last 4 years...(He was just voted one of the top 70 PM's in the US..)...So it's been wonderful to learn what it's like on his side of things...I am blessed that he truly cares about his patients and helps them live a decent life managing their pain with using every tool at his disposal as well as teaching me to use simple things like exercise and diet (healthy eating) as well.
  • Great points , that's what we are trying to say. Consider all options but do it responsibily that is all. :) and thank you for the correction of my typo. Just too fast typing on phone and not paying attention . :)
  • No worries...I truly didn't mean to be correcting you specifically...just wanted to write it out for those who don't know what it stands for..

    And to the OP...I forgot to even put any information about the Neurontin as I got caught up in the thread..LOL...But as mentioned...it's usually prescribed for nerve pain specifically..which is a burning type pain that is usually referred..as in your case and mine with cervical issues...my nerve pain would be down my arms and into my hands/fingers...

    I am blessed to not have much nerve pain anymore after my fusion surgeries...but I still have chronic muscle spasm pain, scar tissue pain, and deep 'bone' pain...but that is because I've had 3 fusions over the years on two levels..

    I use Flexeril which is a muscle relaxer when needed...as well as opiates for my other pain when needed...and all the other things I mentioned in my previous post..

    If after a few weeks your pain in your upper back is not going away...I would certainly speak to your Dr. and maybe switching to a muscle relaxer would help..along with trying other non medicinal avenues as well...
  • yes, exactly, we have said that magnesium deficiency CAN be a cause of muscle spasms, but NOT the ONLY cause, and that everyone should consult with their doctor before adding any supplements into their med regimen. The doctor can check magnesium levels through blood tests to find out if you are deficient, as discussed in the link I provided, and knowing from my own personal experience, as that is one of the levels I get checked twice a year. We also gave a few other options as to how to deal with spasms, other than just relying on modern medication. Now that that proverbial horse has been beaten sufficiently, can we move on so as to not detract anymore from Kinney's original post as C suggested? Thanks!
    APROUD CANADIANveteranButNOTa doctor, my thoughts are my own
  • wow, that is more repsonses then i anticipated. thanks for all the posts.

    i will speak with my doctor in more detail about the neurontin. he wants me to try cervical epidurals again too. i naively thought the neurontin was a muscle relaxer - i obviously didn't do my homework.

    with my cervical disc issues, maybe the neurontin is worth a try. it sounds like there are minimal side effects.

    anyone here have success with neurontin? (i do realize that what works for one may not work for another)

    thanks again!

  • Hi Kinney;

    I've been taking gabapentin for my neuropathy (the generic brand of neurontin) for 2 years now, 600mg x 3/day. It has helped, not completely, but some. I'm actually currently titrating down under dr supervision to give my body a little break, and to see exactly how much, or even little, it is helping. I've had no issues with adverse side effects from it, but there are a few people on the site who get "brain fog" or memory loss as a side effect.

    Good luck with it, I hope it helps you with your nerve pain. As C mentioned earlier, by eliminating some nerve pain, it might help with the spasms as well.
    APROUD CANADIANveteranButNOTa doctor, my thoughts are my own
  • Magnesium, Peter. It does work beautifully, especially in the cardiac arena. I gave anesthesia for heart surgery, and we found magnesium deficiency to be common place. We gave high dose magnesium to keep the heart from fibrillating...this was in a controlled setting however.

    I take a reasonable dose myself. I have not found it to be a wonder drug for muscle spasms, but I do know that it helps with the uptake of calcium into the cell, which is important for me. I do take pain meds and it also helps me from having to take more chemicals like miralax.

  • SavageSavage United StatesPosts: 5,422
    ...post... :)
    Waswondering if some of us..me..even know if it's muscle spsm or involntay movement.
    I can be "spastic" for entire day..depending on day.

    Seemed more neuro to me but..I dunno.

    I take neurotinfor pain..but I wonder about side effects of all the meds...causing more discomfort or pain.

    And yeah, we're all so different. If we can't respect the reality of another..that it's different than ours...wow..I can listen to my family for that. :) :)
    Spine-Health Moderator
    Please read my medical history at: Medical History

  • sleeprgirl said:
    Magnesium, Peter. It does work beautifully, especially in the cardiac arena. I gave anesthesia for heart surgery, and we found magnesium deficiency to be common place. We gave high dose magnesium to keep the heart from fibrillating...this was in a controlled setting however.

    I take a reasonable dose myself. I have not found it to be a wonder drug for muscle spasms, but I do know that it helps with the uptake of calcium into the cell, which is important for me. I do take pain meds and it also helps me from having to take more chemicals like miralax.

    Hi SG, great to see your comments on Mg.
    You have partially restored my faith in this forum.
    I didn't realise how difficult it can be to offer simple advice.
  • Knowledge is power, and the day we stop the learning process would be a sad day.

    I think most people would consider me a card carrying member of conventional medicine, since I studied pharmacology for much of grad school. Howwever, since developing autoimmune thyroid/adrenal disease and the spine issues, I have sought out help from the naturopathic industry. I certainly try to look for options that have minimal side effects for options at least. I lost much of my short term memory with lyrica/neurontin, so I did discontinue those meds, as requested by my doctor. He gives his blessing and support with my supplementations of calcium, magnesium, strontium, vit B complex and B12, vit D, fish oil, etc. I had delayed fusion, osteopenia, pernicious anemia, so we decided that it could not hurt, and possibly help some of my issues.

    I'm also concerned about chronic pain and hypertension. Jon (terror8396) was discussing shortened life span and chronic pain, and I was told by an occupational health physician during an IME how important it would be to decrease the probability of developing co-morbidities due to constant pain. I saw first hand how magnesium would decrease blood pressure, and keeping minerals optimally balanced is essential in keeping our blood pressure normalized.

    I love Rons description of the blend. That philosophy works in all aspects of health care, and can definitely benefit from it as well.

  • If you don't mind answering why did you need surgery three times at the same levels?
  • Hi Peter - I too am a huge believer in taking supplements. I am interested to try this. Currently I am taking a calcium magn potassium suppl. The mag is 500 mg and the magn is magn oxide, citrate alpha somethin somethin. Can you tell me (or anyone else that is taking it) how much you heard was good to take? I did read it was a water soluble vitamin so usually with those, you can't take too much. KN
  • hi sleeprgirl, you mentioned that you like the naturopathic industry... maybe you should check out ShuziQi? I've heard those guys have had some great results with chronic pain. Are you in new zealand? i think they have a bunch of shops around the country. Hope this helps!

  • I'm in the Southern US, but will check it out. Thanks again.

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