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Calf cramps

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,544
Hello everyone, i am a 24 year old and am new to the site and just had a couple of questions i hope someone can answer for me.

First off, i was diagnosed with a herniated disc over a month ago in my L4-L5 region and had some spinal stenosis resulting from it. The disc herniated on the right side and has impinged my L5 nerve root. Also according to an SEMG I have lots of inflammation around it and that it is also irritating the S1 nerve root.

My concern is that yes i do get some back pain, but my biggest complaint is the cramping/tightness/twitching in my calves, but more specifically my left calf? My right leg is pretty messed up too but i can feel that stiffness through the whole leg. I get frequent achy/cramping pains in both legs and pain around my knees, but i want to know if anyone has ever heard of my issue before?

It is possible to have symptoms on the opposite side of the herniation? Should i be worried about something else? Im worried about the twitching too, i get it throughout both legs but it seems constant in my left calf along with the cramps :? . I have no known weakness just a lot of discomfort from standing too long or walking.

Thank you for your time and i hope someone can shed some light on my situation!!


  • I had similar problems. My MRI's indicated that the left should have been more effected/but once my NS ordered the flexion extension xrays it became clear that the instability was the real problem, not the herniations.



    ps/WELCOME :D
  • I mean, the excruciating, toe curling, leg contorting, wake you from a sound sleep screaming type of pain... I tried everything. From calf stretches, to walking more, climbing steps.... I couldn't figure out if I was dehydrated, if it was a result of the nerve damage, or - I even thought it may have been a side effect from my medications. I'd mention it at my PM visit every month, but it was never addressed.

    Finally, I started back drinking my orange juice in the mornings again. Or at least pineapple juice, or a banana. ANYTHING with potassium. Now I am 80% better. Less instances of cramping, and less intense cramping.

    Try potassium. Let me know if that works out for you!

    If it does, I'll collect my fee. If not... well, I don't have malpractice insurance. :SS

    Seriously - hope this helps you. Do keep us posted, okay?

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  • Hey Jeaux,

    My cramps dont seem as bad as yours but they are still really annoing. I feel my calf just randomly stiffen up, and when i get it to relax it starts twitching or spasming im not sure if it is actually a twitch it just seems like the muscle is "bubbling" or something.

    Something that might help for you is magnessium. I started taking magnessium and it seems to have helped, that and maybe the combination of my spinal decompression treatments, but after i get done with the treatments my legs are as stiff as bricks for the rest of the day. They loosen up the next day and thats when i get the random cramping and twitching.

    I still dont understand why its occuring on the opposite side of my herniation, that and the twitching makes me worry that something more serious is going on like als, but ive always been a big hypocondriac.
  • Hey to you all, and greeting from New Zealand. I had a spinal fusion on L5/S1 almost 3 months ago now. I had spasms in my left calf muscle before surgery and now they are back worse than ever. Calf cramps and spasms waking me during the night and they get worse in the morning. This also happens to my left lower hamstring. The spasms in my calf extend down to my ankle and up to the back of the knee. Spoken to my surgeon and doctor but get no solution except for Norflex, which dries out my gums and mouth. Not an option. Tried magnesium and have heard that the body won't process magnesium without potassium....If anyone has a solution, please let me know. After 18months of not being able to walk or sit, 2 microdisectomys and then the fusion my body has had enough. Coming off Amitrip and gabapentin almost killed me........Thanks for your time and look forward to hearing from anyone who has gone through the same.
  • RangerRRanger on da rangePosts: 805
    to the same symptoms Jeaux. I read about lack of potassium, poor hydration, etc... and addressed it accordingly. Last night I had the killer of all leg cramps
    throughout the night into the morning until I got out of bed. I have severe OA
    almost everywhere including my spine, I've had a lami done to my lower back
    and a major fusion to my c-spine. The symptoms come and go with no set pattern. I've talked it over with my PCP, Rheumy, and others but they don't seem to have an answer either. Any more suggestions?
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  • Potassium definitely helps, I also take a calcium & magnesium supplement daily. I swear if I miss a day, the calf cramps come back, and they have woken me up from a dead sleep. Really annoying. Been going on since I re-herniated L5-S1.
    Jan 2009 L5-S1 ALIF
    May 2017 ALIF L4-L5 with PLF rods added L4-L5-S1
  • that can cause the cramping is walking differently to compensate for the back pain. You can get pain and cramping in all sorts of strange areas from that. Also becareful taking potassium if you are taking any meds for the heart or have any type of heart condition. If so, consult with your doc first.
  • To quote Jeaux "the excruciating, toe curling, leg contorting, wake you from a sound sleep screaming type of pain... " I have done it all, I have the intervertable disc lesion L4/5, I am just recovering from C5/6 decompression and fusion. I am 70 now and the lower back started when I was 18, and hasn't ever stopped.

    This morning I can barely walk as both calves are so stiff and painful from the last few days of cramps.

    When I try to get out of a car, pick something up off the floor, go to sleep, it all seems to be an invitation for another hair raising cramp.

    I do drink two litres of water, I have Caltrate, I eat Bananas, no one seems to understand.

    I see this is a very old post so guess I will get filed in the archives.
  • You did respond to a very old post but your response makes it like it's a new post now.

    This is the first time I have read Jeaux's words about nighttime calf muscle cramps but I couldn't have said it better! I herniated a lumbar disc in my mid-20's and have had those excruciating calf cramps ever since. The last few of years I've started having the same kind of cramps in my back and inner thigh muscles and they happen during the daytime--triggered by simple things like you describe. Have been told the cramps are caused by stenosis and I do stretching exercises (knees to chest while lying on floor) to give those lumbar nerves some needed space. It does help but I also have quinine capsules always handy for the times when the thigh muscles cramp up and won't snap out of it. If it weren't for the quinine, I'd be a screaming idiot, lol.

    Thanks for bringing up this seldom talked about symptom of stenosis. :)

    2009 Foraminotomy C6-72010 PLIF L4-S1Multi RFA's, cervical inj, lumbar injLaminectomy L3-4 and fusion w/internal fixation T10-L4 July 17Fusion C2-C5 yet to be scheduled
  • Thank you for your reply Inch, Yes, I have had the cramps in the left calf since I was 18, and a wonderful old doctor told me it was to do with my back. Of course fifty years ago they wouldn't operate as they said I would end up in a wheelchair.

    I too have the thigh and back spasms. My lumbar area fees as though it goes from ) shape and tries to be (.

    I have tried quinine but they didn't help me at all.

    Maybe the next step will be surgery on the lumbar area, I really didn't want to have to do that but I have to do something. 50 years + is too much.
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