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Muscle Twitching and Spasms in Legs and Feet
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Muscle Twitching and Spasms in Legs and Feet

Can lumbar spine problems (or spine problems in general) cause chronic twiching and/or spasming of muscles in the calves and feet?

My background: Posterior interbody lumbar fusion (L4-S1) 7 months ago, anterior cervical fusion (C5-C7) about 4 years ago, and undifferentiated spondylitis. Leg muscles twitch constantly, regardless of activities, worsen when I first lie down, but then settle down to mild twitching all night long after being in bed awhile. If I do any physical activities (walking on treadmill, stretching, eliptical machine, etc.) the twitching goes into severe spasms in my calves and sometimes in my feet during the night. Sometimes the calves will spasm when I climb stairs during the day, but I immediately walk out the spasm. On bad nights, however, I have to get up every 10 minutes all night long to walk out the spasms. If I don't exercise, the spasms are infrequent, but the twitching is constant. With exercise, the spasms are chronic on a nightly basis. At night my lower back frequently tightens or spasms, and in my sleep I'll arch my back and tightly lock my legs in a stretch to counter the lower back spasm, and it will wake up in the process; this may, at times, contribute to the leg spasms, but it doesn't happen everytime. I'm still having moderate groin and hip pain since the lumber surgery, but benefits have far outweigh the discomfort, and the pain is slowly but surely diminishing. The twitching and spasms preceded the lumbar surgeries and have not abated since the surgeries.

I don't have MS and don't seem to fit the pattern for RLS. I've taken RLS meds, potassium, magnesium, quinine, heomeopatic remedies, etc. but nothing help. Flexeril 3x daily will help when spasms get bad, but the side effects are pretty intense, so I stopped exercising for the sake of trying to sleep at night.

I would appreciate any insight you may be able to provide regarding back problems and leg and foot muscle issues. Thank you.



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Avatar_n_tn
How old are you max?
Are you most comfortable sitting than in bed?
and are you  diabetic?

Willl270
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Avatar_m_tn
I'm 56, in otherwise good health, and have no neurological or systemic diseases, such as MS or diabetes. The twitching does not involve the entire calf muscle ususally, but rather small areas of the muscle contract first in one spot then another, moving around rapidly in differenly locations within the calf, or at least that's how it feels. It's possible to see the muscle move in various areas and to feel it with my fingers, but I feel it much more intensely than it shows. I have it all the time in both legs regardless of whether I'm sitting or in bed, but in bed it initially gets much worse, but then settles down after I've relaxed for awhile. If I get up to go to the bathroom during the night, when I return to bed the calf muscles jump around intensely, but eventually settle down. If I exercise or even stretch during the day, I'll have leg and foot spasms all night beginning two to four hours after I've gone to bed and often lasting the entire night. It's really awful. When my legs and/for feet spasm, very often my lower back also tightens or spasms, too. It's for that reason that I wondered there might be a connection between my spine problems and spasms in the legs and feet. In the lower back, I had moderate stenosis but the main problem was scar tissue impingin on my nerve roots. The lumber fusion was an 8-hour surgery because the doc had to separate the scar tissue from the nerve roots. The twitching preceded the surgery, however, and has not improved after the surgery.
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Avatar_n_tn
Hi, I can relate to what you are going through. I had a discectomy at L5-S1 about three years ago. The twitching started soon after. It was so frustrating trying to explain to doctors and physical therapists how a constant twitch in my leg changed my life. They were all clueless.
I had flexeril on hand from before the surgery, but it gave no relief from the twitching. The PT told me it would go away. I decided to have patience, that lasted a year. I became desperate. I was sleep deprived every night, up 5-7 times per night. At night cramps would start in my calf, and when I tried to stretch it out the front of my leg would cramp. My leg became "locked" and I had to get out of bed and hobble around until it went away. When I walk my leg feels weak because each time I raise my leg my calf spasms. I had quit exercising like you. I was wondering what my future would be like. Here I am in my forties and I can't exercise. My family doctor prescribed amitriptyline in a low dosage. It helped a little, the twitching was the same frequency but less strong. I tried different dosages. The bottom line was that I was still getting up 3-4 times at night instead of 5-7. I was happy for a while but my life still wasn't back to normal. I went to another doctor and asked for neurontin but he wouldn't prescribe it. At that point I felt hopeless and on my own.
The reason I am responding is because since that time I got creative and came up with some solutions that have made this manageble for me. My twitching is in my calf and hamstring on the back of my leg. I noticed it was better when those muscles are stretched slightly. So with all my daily activety I keep that in mind. There is a wall behind my desk at work that I can rest my leg on in a strectched position with my toe neutral instead of pointed. In my car there is a ridge to bend my toe backwards to stretch my calf, etc. For at night I got a "night splint". It is a boot that people with plantar fasciitis (problems with foot arches) wear at night to keep from pointing their toe. The problem with the boots was that I would get a cramp while wearing it at night, and it was hard to get it off quickly in the middle of the night. I still wear the boot if I sit on a recliner when watching movies to keep my calf stretched. Luckily my husband is handy. We have an old water bed frame with a sleep number bed. First he made an extention to the foot board that I could put my foot on to keep my toe form pointing. There is a space just above the mattress for my heals, so I can get some dorsiflexion. He also made a brace for the side of the bed. In the middle of the bed I put a 10 lb weight with some ankle weights to help keep it from rolling. I always have the foot of my bad leg on one of these to keep my toe from pointing. I am to the point that most nights I don't have cramps. If i feel them coming on I quickly put my foot back on one of the braces. I am gradually increasing my exercise. As I get in shape it takes longer for my calves to cramp while walking. I can't stand the thought that the twitching could go on forever, but this is the most normal my life has been since surgery.
I hope this is helpful.
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Avatar_m_tn
My calf and feet spasms are not severe but the pain is.  No amount of pain killers seems to help.  Help back surgery over a year ago and continue to have chronic pain, but this problem came on a couple of weeks ago and is getting worse.  Haven't been to the gym for awhile either (sinuses).  This is my third night without sleep.  Any ideas?  I'm getting a bit conerned here.
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Avatar_f_tn

I have been reading your post and have finally found people that have some of the same symptoms as I do.  I hurt my back by lifting a 35 lb box of potatoes. I did physical therapy and a years worth of chiropractor. My back seems to be doing well but I have constant twitching in my legs. I also have twitching in my feel and heal pain. If im not active the pain is manageable but some times I can barely walk. I just had and MRI done and that looks good from what they say. I guess my next stop would be to see a neurologist. I'm scared im going to wind up in a wheel chair. My doctor keeps telling me he has no idea what is causing my symptons. :(
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Avatar_n_tn
I recently tried Earth shoe tennis shoes. They have a "negative" heel, meaning the heel is lower than your toes. They keep my calf slightly stretched all day. They have been very helpful.
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Avatar_n_tn
Hi

I have the same problem ...and cant find an answer..
a massage terapist in china recomended me to strech like jjHusker
but keep coming and coming back  again...?????
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Avatar_m_tn
Thank you very much Dr. Mandu! I have heard that iron can help people with restless leg syndrome but I never tried it because that wasn't my diagnosis. You suggestion would be a wonderful, simple cure if it worked, so I will try it.

CindyS2231 I just saw your post and appreciate your suffering! We are kindred spirts hobbling down dark hallways in spasm during the middle of the night. I've been diagnosed with an arthritic disease called spondylitis, which affects the spine and, in my case, all of my other joints. I have had some intermittent leg relief with the prescription anti-inflammatories used for arthritis, but they are heavy-duty drugs that require ongoing blood tests to monitor safety: sulindac, injectable humira and methotrexate. With the sulindac, espectially, the twitching diminishes to low intensity, and spasms become occasional. But then I have flare ups, like now, with viciously jumping calf muscles and spasms in the legs and feet, so today I'm also starting a Medrol Dose Pak. I also got relief if I took a big dose of flexeril right before bed, but that left me feeling like a zombie the following day. I don't expect to ever be free of spasms or twitching, but I'll be satisfied if I can stay in bed at night longer than 15-minute intervals at a stretch. I'll also try your exercises. Thank you!
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454186_tn?1388978568
hi,deep and intensive acupuncture can help,as it good at relieving inflammation of soft tissue around lower back area, so inflammation stimulation was reason..
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Avatar_n_tn
I’m glad to hear that there are others like me. I thought I was the only one with this twitching issue. I had back surgery over 8 years ago to remove a herniated disk. For fifteen years prior to the surgery, I was in constant pain. The surgery was a God-send and I’m please to say that I don’t have the pain anymore. However, I do have a constant twitching since some time after the surgery. I’m talking 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. It is nonstop. Sometimes it’s worse than others. Exercising makes it more active. Sometimes at night my leg will cramp. My foot points straight out and it all locks up. I have to jump out of bed to put weight on it to break it loose. The weird thing is that the twitching is in my left calf only. No where else. My family doctor has given me medicines for restless leg syndrome but no help. I’ve tried calcium, potassium, Iron and anything else that I could find that I may be deficient in. I asked my family doctor if it could be related to my back surgery, he said no, it’s just something that happens. Sorry, Doc, wrong answer. I have decided that I’m going to go to a neurologist. With today’s knowledge, technological advancements, there has to be a way to turn it off.

God bless. I hope we all find the answer.
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Update: My leg is still twitching 24/7, but I am doing so much better. I just passed the 4 year anniversary of the back surgery that caused the dreaded twitching. When I look back:
1. It really helped to keep may calf stretched at night. I had less cramping and started to sleep better. My leg was less tight during the day too.
2. Next I very gradually increased my activity. As I have gotten stronger the twitching has decreased, and I can do more before my leg "goes wild".
One exercise in particular seemed to really help. Two years ago a physical therapist had me lay on the floor, on my front side with a pillow under my hips. I stabilized my spine by squeezing my glutes and abs. Next, I bent my knee and raised my lower leg. The first one sent my leg into a spasm. She told me to keep trying. The more I thought about it, the more I realized I couldn't live a normal life with such a weak leg. It took me a few months to be able to do 20 reps. Next I did two set of 20. Then I added a 1 lb weight to my ankle and did as many as I could. It was a balance of increasing reps without aggravating my leg too much. It has taken 2 years and I am up to 9 lbs. I can't believe how long it has taken to build up strength, but it has really helped. This exercise has changed my life. I can ride my bike 10 miles at a time and am taking a reform Pilate's class. Even though I am more active, my leg twitches less.
You are all in my thoughts. I hope this helps.
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Hi, To all, I just joined the forums due to the fact that I am to my wits end. Let me start out with explaining a little of my back ground. Please bear with me if its a little long but i would appreciate some patience and maybe some kind of feed back please. So here goes:
1. Back in 1999, I had my daughter, immediately after I came home from the hospital i discovered while doing dishes, changing diapers, anything that ment bending over just the slightest was incredibly painful. i mean within 5 minutes, Well, i just ignored it and dealt with the pain. continued doing the everyday duties i had to and was in pain.
2. Mentioned to family doctor on and off of this odd back pain but the doctor doesnt really do much but puts me on darvocets and thats about all.
3. Since 1997 i have been a waitress and well, 2008 still a waitress. In 2003 I move down about an hour closer to my family but still with the same doctor who ends up retireing and a new doctor takes over. Well, by this time i have tried a chiropractor 3 times. 1st time it helped unbelievably, 2nd 2x's in complete pain not to mention by this time my back is completely locking up to the point of having to be picked up out of bed and off the couch and put in an upright standing position just to try and loosen up. Also, many episodes of siatic (sciatic)(spelled wrong, I know) pain, actually lost feeling one day and got out of the car and fell when i stepped.
4. Doc made an appt for an x-ray for my back and then was refered to the spine clinic. Well, That is when the disaster started has continue since. Met with the spine doc. He tells me as we look at the xray it is a simple vertebra out of place(his exact words) and with p.t. with go back into place. Well, i agree since i figure my faith is in his hand he knows what he is talking about and it will help and it will get better. Well, I drive for p.t. only to meet with them 2x a wk for nothing more than a waste of time for them to tell me how to pick up things, vaccume and so on and so forth, and never once touched me.
5. Well, here we are to the future and its a little over 2 years later and im and in a daily pain level of 8-9. cant find a new doc, mine is a jerk and wont perscribe me anything more then a few vicodin a month cause he says everyone gets additicted to them. now he sent me to see another spine doctor only because i called up to him and spoke with the nurse and she alerted me to something in med. files that i finally found out was alarming and was not told of. so here goes and was urgently sent for an mri. I was born with lumbar spondyleothesis now grade 2 almost 3, I have basicly no reflexes after the test was done on my left leg, no reflexes at my ankle and behind my knee, and a bit more reflexes on my right side. I have shooting pain down my leg on my left side that feels like someone is stabbing a knife out my shin bone just below my knee and my either feels numb, tingly or a dull pain, and i cant lean over the sink to look in the mirror or do dishes, or even lay out clothes on a bed for more than 5 minutes with my muscles in my legs twitching uncontrollably and unbelievable pain.
Now, mind you we looked at the same xrays from the original spine doc visit and you can clearly see the white lines down the sides of my spine where the pars....(cant remember the rest of the name) are broken and i even ask the new rejected spine doc(sorry my opinion of these docs are not high) told me. Now, I have developed a severe case( im assuming its rls/plmd), sometimes durning being awake but when im sleeping or start to rest I get major unconfortable feeling in my legs and occasionally in my arms, but when i do fall asleep terrible, terrible jerking, and twitching in my legs so bad ive kicked my boyfried and left bruses. i have experience the jerking awake and it was so bad with charleyhorses that i just cryed. Everyday my legs hurt and are so tight. at night i get the feeling and i either pound my legs on the floor, twist my ankles almost breaking them, or just pace the floor to no end. I barely sleep and if i do i wake to extreme anxiety attacks to trying to get more sleep but then i get the odd feeling in my arms.
    Please I need help, I nothing in my record to abusing pain meds nor and all honesty am i additicted to them but my doctors are jerks and not compationate at all and i need something stronger. I even told then since i do have to work and take care of my daughter and function without being a zombie, i would be happy with a level 3/4 pain, this way i dont over do it. But i just cant handle the level im at. any advice before i have a nervous breakdown or something....sorry soooooo long...

Thanks, Froggie
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Avatar_m_tn
Sorry to hear about your prolonged difficulties! Spinal problems can take a long, long time to diagnose and treat. So, don't give up! There are many other kinds of meds that you can take to deal with the pain besides painkillers. Have you seen a pain specialist or neurologist? I found that the twiching and spasms are made much more severe if I take certain meds at night. I've eliminated all meds in the evening and I'm doing better at night most of the time. For example, I can't take anti-inflammatories before bedtime. I'm on permanent low-dose prenisone (5 mg) and that has been helpful with much of the pain, but have terrible spasms if I take it in the evening. By eliminating all meds in the evening, really bad night spasms are infrequent and ususally associated with my back tightening up. I still have chronic low-grade twitching and mild spasms at night, and I might just have to stand for a minute or so until they pass, but at least I'm not falling over or pacing the floor all night. Good luck!
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Avatar_n_tn
I have all these symptoms and never had back problems! I injured calf muscle real bad 3 1/2 years ago. After several mris and other tests on every part of my body because of all the neuro symptoms, they finally just said I have RLS and BFS and probalbly a trapped nerve. Still very active at 52(raquetball, walk when I play golf) and coach soccer. But left leg is very weird. When I curl toes, I get a tremor. When I try and flex muscle it just goes into spasm. But all the symptons you people mention is what scares and concerns me and just can't get used to. Refuse to take drugs.
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Hi Max, I was doing a search on Google, and it matched your ongoing saga.  

Though I have not had any surgery (i am hoping to evade that as long as possible) I do have spondylolisthesis, which is slightly different than your diagnosis.  Mine comes not from arthritic condistion, but a few acute, "ballistic" injuries - car crash, lifting a patient out of bed, etc - and then wear and tear from extreme sports through my 20's and early 30's.

My L4 and L5 "slip" forward pinching the nerves and the beginnings of "some" (osteo) arthritic narrowing is occuring between L5 and S1 according to my physiatrist (spine doc)

As i mentioned above i used to "be" a P.T., but had to change careers because I knew the wear and tear would only get worse.  And so I have gone to P.T., a few times (x12 visits) in the last few years each time there is a flare up.  These flare ups happen like 1x yr or so.

The interesting thing is that I get almost the same symptoms you are describing... Fasciculations (the sporadic uncontrollable muscle twitches), in the calf, quads, mostly the (lateral) higher calf on the outsides and the mid to lower inner thighs.  It begins with the tiny fasciculations, then it builds into tightening and spasms, till then it can only be described as intense grabbing.  I describe as if a huge condor has swooped from behind, wrapped itself across my lower back, and has grabbed onto my thighs and calfs with its enormous talons.  It "nervy" and jumpy at first, and with each step increasingly worse, almost dropping me to my knees if i dont stop, stretch, (whimper) and then try to move again.  Eventually it subsides (like a 1/2 mile of walking painfully) and then it is just "tight" and painfully "sore".

if the intense part is a 9-10/10, the soreness is like a 7-8/10.

It then basically moves to a recovery phase where what is leftover is basically a tightness across my back (no real pain "in" the back itself) and then in the legs and calf where I was feeling the spasms and pain I now feel "as if" I have the recovery day pains after doing squats.  When I was younger and played football/etc... I would do power squats w/ heavy weights until exhaustion, and its that "soreness" that you feel the next day, you know?... that is exactly what it feels like after the spasms are gone.

I'm wondering... Is this slightly different than what you are feeling?  I dont get them "at night", they can come at any time, like i said usually once or twice a year.

But my real question is in regards to the Prednisone x 5mg you take.  Do you find any adverse effects?  Do you get "Moonface"?  Any worries about long term usage suppressing other symptoms that you may not want to mask - what have you been told to watch for?  etc.. etc...

Any info would help.
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Avatar_m_tn
I'm so sorry to hear about your challenges, but at least you seem to have a good understanding of what's happening, given your PT background. In the year and half since my posting, I've made a couple of changes that have helped with the night spasms. First, no meds after 12:00 pm noon. It seems that taking anti-inflammatory meds in the evening worsened the problem. Second, I've changed from soft-sole shoes to hard-sole shoes. I wore the soft-sole shoes for years because of arthritis in my feet, but found that not only can I wear hard-sole shoes (Mephistos --- very expensive, but worth it), but when I do, my calf muscles are happier. I don't know why, but when I put on a pair of soft-sole shoes, I get minor cramps in my calves when I walk or climb stairs. Together these two changes have tremendously lessened the nighttime discomforts. I still have muscle twitching, but it isn't severe. I've also stopped taking prednisone because it made me confused and I'm still trying to take off the extra weight it causes. Best of luck with your issues and I sincerely hope that you find relief soon.
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Avatar_f_tn
Okay, you guys will probably think I'm nuts, but I have similar problems with my back and legs.  I was in a car accident in 1977 and have had trouble ever since, and the older I get the worse it gets.  I had been told for years that I needed to have back surgery, but had heard so many negative things about back surgery that I resisted (I prefer to use natural remedies whenever possible).  I eventually opted for trying disk decompression after my back got so bad that I couldn't even dress myself.  I needed to do something.  The amazing thing was that 5 weeks of disk decompression did wonders!  And after I quit the treatments, my back continued to improve.  After 20 years of terrible pain, I am now completely pain free.  It's been 3 years since I had the treatments, and I can honestly say that I feel wonderful.  I just recently started running every other day, and it feels awesome!  (I loved running when I was younger but was told 15 years ago by numerous medical professionals that I would never run again because of the damage to my back.  My disks were 50% gone.)  So if any of you have back problems, I would strongly suggest finding a medical professional that specializes in disk decompression and look into it.  It's absolutely amazing.

Regarding the leg issues...once I completed my disk decompression treatments, I also started having the leg cramping and twitching.  It was always much worse at night, and it was very difficult to get to sleep.  However, I found something very simple that worked very well for me.  Surprisingly enough, I found that putting an ice pack on my lower back completely stopped all the symptoms and gave me a good nights sleep.  I just started going to bed with an ice pack.  I can't explain medically why it would work, but I can tell you that in my case it most definitely did.  After I had done that for a while, the symptoms in my legs finally went away.  It took a few years though.  The symptoms went away as my back got better.  Anyway, maybe my sharing my experience will help someone.
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Avatar_n_tn
I have been experiencing SEVERE leg and foot spasms off and on for about 20 years. In the past 3 years it has become nightly and honestly, getting to be unbearable!

I am a 40 y/o active woman. I do alot of walking as I am a nurse. I am in good shape and stay well hydrated. I make sure to keep up my potassium intake and take B12 supplements.

I have had increasing, almost debilitating leg and foot spasms almost nightly for the past 2 years. I stretch before going to bed and have been given Baclofen 10mg- 2 T PO QID by my neurologist to take nightly a few hours before bedtime.
My recent MRI showed a lesion on my spine( sorry, my copy of the report is at work and am honestly so tired from last night I am drawing a total blank on what level it's at!).My neurologist states that he believes the lesion is a congenital defect, but is going to monitor it for progression and growth every 6 months. In the meantime he would like me to start a regimen of Zanaflex for the muscle spasms and Provigil for the daytime somolence and fatigue.

I am NOT into taking medication- even though I am  a nurse, but I am at my wits end. I need to be able to get a good nights sleep to be able to function in my nursing capacity. I am awakened  from a sound sleep nightly with the most severe pain in my feet and calves. My lower extremities spasms so severely I fall out of bed to the floor, unable to stand to try and walk them off. This ,in turn, wakes my husband who tries to massage the spasms out of my legs.

He has accompanied me to my neurology appointments and has told my neurologist that my nightly spasms and pain are interfering with both of our sleep. My neurologist has been made aware that my spasms are progressing to the point where I am beginning to get them during the day and even while driving. This is dangerous as I have no control over the muscle at all during these events. My spasms last anywhere from 10-20 minutes each cycle and usually happen at least once to twice every 2 hours all through the night.

I have tried every home remedy imaginable. I have tried vitamins, massage, water aerobics, stretching- all to no avail. I am planning on starting my samples of Zanaflex and Provigil this weekend, but am extremely nervous about doing so. I do not want to take anything that can be sedating or addicting, I just want to be out of pain.

Are there any others with the same problem? Does anyone have any advise? All information would be most appreciated and helpful. I am beyond desperate at this point.

BTW- the MRI and MRA of my brain did not show MS lesions, which my neurologist had worried might be causing my symptoms.My LE nerve conduction study also showed normal .
Thanks...and wishing you all a pain free day! :) Shannie
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Avatar_n_tn
I am sorry to hear you are suffering so much. I had the same problem 4 years ago. I got so desperate that I did try medication. It helped me sleep a little better, while I was finding other things that would help. I would not hesitate to use medicaton temporarily to keep your sanity. When your legs get so tight at night there is no way you can do enough stretching during the day to strecth them out. I have an old waterbed with a select comfort matress. My husband is handy and made wood braces for the bed for me to put my feet on, so my feet and legs would always be in a stretched position at night. I has done wonders for me, and I no longer use any medication. I can't remember the last time I had a cramp at night. My leg is still twitching but my life is back to normal, and I am very active. At some point I gave up trying to find why my leg twitched and started brainstorming about what I could do for myself to solve the problem. No doctor has ever offered anything but medication. Without meds I was up 5-7 times a night with cramps. With meds it was 3-4. That was not an acceptable long term solution. It is not a very common problem and I have never found a healthcare worker who ever understood how torturous it is. I wish you the best.
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Avatar_f_tn
I have suffered with chronic lower back pain for 10 years.  I had a sports injury in high school.  I am 25 now.  I am 5'7" and 130 lbs.  I went to a doctor when the injury initially happened, and things seemed to get better.  The pain came back tenfold a couple of years ago, but I refused to see a doctor.  For me to see a doctor, something has to REALLY be wrong.  I didn't think a doctor would want to be bothered with my back pains.  

I am in so much pain that making the bed, shaving my legs, bending over to pet my cat, and emptying the dishwater are things that I will be paying for for a few weeks.  Forget sweeping the floors and doing laundry!  I know there are some of you who understand what I am talking about.  

Well, a few months ago I started getting this twitching in my legs.  It would happen when I first lied down at night.  It would continue for about 20 minutes and then settle down.  My legs would just jerk.  Sometimes it would be caused by shooting pain down my legs and other times it just seemed like there was no rhyme or reason for it.  I didn't think it was muscular, though.  It seemed deeper than that.  I also found that if I lay a certain way, my legs would go crazy.  I had to find the right comfortable position before I could relax.  I always get what I call "phantom nerve pains".  For example, I feel my right foot toes go numb and then I get a dull pain in my left knee, then a slight burning in my right calf, and tingling in my left thigh, etc.  This is 100% of the time.  Finally, I went to an orthopedic surgeon spine specialist.  My doctor ordered an MRI, put me on Mobic (Meloxicam) and ordered PT 2 times a week.  The MRI showed 3 herniated disks caused by annular tears in my L4-S1.  The doctor also said I have DDD (Degenerative Disk Disease).  Clearly, my nerves were/are being compressed.  

I go to PT for core strengthening and traction.  Traction is amazing.  Traction is disk decompression.  They strap 2 harnesses onto you and hook you up this pulling machine.  One harness hold you in place and the other is attached to the pulling machine.  It pulls your spine apart and it feels divine!  It's my little St. Catherine Wheel.  It lasts for about 3 days, so I get it done twice a week.

I hope this helps someone.  The bottom line is my twitching legs and weird leg sensations are caused by nerve compression.  Traction (disk decompression) is a great thing.  I am still in pain, but the twitching stops because of traction.  Mobic is good, but the pain comes back at the end of the day.  I cannot take pain killers because I am a teacher, so I am dealing with this pain.  I am going back to the doctor to start epidural injections in 2 weeks, but this makes me nervous.  The procedure looks scary in writing.  I'm assuming that if the injections don't work, I am looking at surgery.  

I understand how y'all feel about chronic pain.  It is literally very depressing.  People tell me to stay positive, but I don't understand what the point of living is if every single moment of my existence is PAINFUL.  Back pain costs a lot of money and I have no patience for it.  Nothing seems to be working for the pain.  I also feel a lot older than I am.  Everything hurts.  I am only 25!  I should be going out and having fun on the weekends, but I am stuck in bed.  After work, I lie down in bed.  On the weekends, I am in bed.  This does not sound like a young bachelorette living her big city dream.  This sounds like my 80-year old grandmother is West Palm.  I am sorry to say that I have begun to lose all hope for being pain-free.

Again, I hope this post helps someone.  Take care.      
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*UPDATE*

I wanted to update my last post.  I went to my orthopedic surgeon on Wednesday and we scheduled an epidural steoroid injection because PT and the anti-inflammatory did not help my pain.  She also put me on 30 mg Cymbalta for the "phantom" nerve pain/numbing/tingling, and not for depression.  Apparently it "blocks the pain pathway".  I have been on Cymbalta for a few days now and the side effects are intense.  My mouth is dry and I have a metallic taste in my mouth.  I am very loopy, which is affecting my work performance.  I am very drowsy.  I zone out frequently.  Sometimes I feel like I am going to throw up.  It's day 3 and I'm wondering when these side effects will cease.  My pharmacist said it takes some people 2-3 weeks, but my doctor said it will take a few days.  I am supposed to increase my dose to 60 mg in a week.  Have any of y'all ever taken this drug for your back issues?  Any advice?   Thank y'all!
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hi there sorry for you're unwanted side effects..not easy to deal with!!
I have the same issues with my back and the nerve pain down the legs. I've never tried cymbalta however I've taken neurontin(gabapentin) for abt 5 yrs. its an anticonvulsant and works wonders for this type of nerve pain.
I have a few side effects especially like now when I am increasing the dose(2700 mg now)...feel sort of spacey and yes dry mouth. but otherwise no biggie, these side effects are minor in comparison to the pain...
BTW do you're homework on epidural steroid injections....
best place to find more info on them is the PAIN MANAGEMENT FORUM....
read alot before you go ahead with this treatment, ok
good luck to you
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Katie- from my experience (and great spinal specialist) i have chosen not to take any meds and espec not epidurals, as they are temporary and perpetual. I saw 3 spinal specialists, REAL Dr's dont advise you towards an epidural unless it is your last option...think about it- its a needle to your spine, that has temporary effect!
I have DDD and minor herniation on several lower discs. I ruptured a disk about 3yrs ago. It was explained to me that it was actually good since it acted as a pimple would. (when it pops, it relieves pressure internally) With the rupture however, it put pressure on a nerve, caused my calf to weaken (to a limp), thus, a discectomy 4days later to relieve the disc fragment pushing on the nerve..
I suffered mild nerve damage in my calf that causes perpetual fasciculations, especially at night.... which brought me to this thread!
I apprec any advice but i would offer this to all..... it seems the more i utilize the calf and STRETCH regularly the better it is. I know our schedules dont coordinate properly but it helps and it makes sense. Its almost as if my calf is telling me it needs attention. As with any muscular issues in the body, stretching can only help. Try to lean towards exercise bikes and elipticals over running, as running is not good for joints/back. I realized this after my wife convinced me to run NYC marathon! Best of luck, i hope this helps.
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Thank you, both, for your advice.  Since my insurance won't cover the epidural, it is no longer an option.  I guess some things work out for the best.  I am still, however, in a world of pain.  My insurance also wouldn't cover Cymbalta, so after weening myself off of that, I am on Neurontin.  The side effects are intense, but I know I can get through this in a few weeks.  I am so frustrated.  My doctor wants so badly for my pain to go away, but the insurance company could care less.  Surgery seems to be the only remaining option.  Physical therapy did not work and meds don't seem to help with the pain.  The jerking and pain down the back of my legs have improved with the Neurontin, but the severe pain in my lower back won't cease.  I don't mean to use this site to complain.  I just want a solution to this problem.  Is surgery my only hope?  Ironically my father is a retired surgeon and advises against me having surgery, but I feel like I am running out of options.

Jrussbag,
I used to be a ballet dancer (before the back pain) and I am not a stranger to muscular twitching and pain in my legs.  What seemed to help me was using a heating pad before activity and stretching the muscle.  After activity, ice helped.  The heating pad loosens up your muscles and gets you ready for action.  The ice relieved the pain after activity.  I don't know how helpful this advice is to you, but I would try using a heating pad first.

Take care, everyone.
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HI again, I am so sorry for all your pain, I can hear the agony ur in.
Have you tried narcotics? My pain was never as severe as yours sounds but never the less were very limiting in what I was able to do. I've been on oxycontin for 6 months now and it does help the back pain and mobility, however I find it doesn't help at all with the leg/thigh pain.
I've also read on the pain forum where TENS machines can do wonders for some people and back pain, have you looked into that?
I'm glad epidural is no longer an option for your sake, and I sure hope surgery is a last resort also.
keep fighting
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some times when you are on a muscle relaxer for a long period of time it can cause twitting.  I had the same thing i was on flexarill for years and out of the blue i had twittes my pain managment doctor changed my muscle relavxer to soma and two days later the twittes are gone  i hope this helps you
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Dear opus88,

I'm reluctant to take narcotics only because I'm a teacher and I need to be on my A game.  Do you find that these drugs inhibit you mentally at all?  Opus88, thank you so much for your suggestions.  You are really very helpful!  Take care!  
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Hello, I just read all the posts and have some things in commen..the excruciating burning back pain. I was told that I had DDD and arthitis in my L4-L5..It can be so miserable. You can't do anything..but lean against something to get some ease. Temporarily..unfortunately. I had ACD & F Spinal Fusion '06 and 3 ESI's in which were a mistake..bc the first two helped and I was so happy I hugged the doc and told him that I loved him, but the third one tore all of that down..I was lying there w/my face in little hole and they had music blairing in the background and the doc was talking to someone that apparently was helping him that he was taking a trip to LA and he hit something that made my whole body jump. I raised my head and asked what..what what was that? He told me to put my head back down and he studdered and answered with FRICTION. He told me to immmediately sit up and got in my face and asked if I had heavy breathing or was my ears ringing. I just told him that my hands and my feet were numb. They kept me for an hour under deep surveilance..I mean that they paced in front of my door and I had a heart monitor and blood pressure every 5 min. I truly believe they messed me up bad and I would like to know just what happened ...I am still numb in both hands and feet. It is only getting worse since now I have pain everywhere in my body. Actually that is when all the back pain started..HMMM? Of course, they cover their hides with the statute of limitations..conveinient..It is just not fair that they can destroy a persons life so quickly and I worked professional as a Vocalist in Nashville...not anymore. I can't play my guitar. My whole world has been turned upside down. What am I gonna do? Does anyone know. I have the leg pains, especially under my knees...oh...it is terrible. I can't stand for over 5-10 min.my back feels like it is on fire. I run...or should I say limp to the bed to lay down. I stay in the bed a lot..since my pain is still in my neck too. I feel like I am falling apart or should I say have fell apart. Well, I sure hope u get ur symptoms under control. If anyone knows what is going on w/me..I would appreciate it..oh..I do have those leg and arm rls symptoms ...so creepy and you have to stretch all the time..I sure hope u feel better and I will say a prayer 4 u guys...Take care and always GOD BLESS    visit my website that I am just now working on,but it has a lot to say @ docs that leave u hanginng and ur life tooooo    http://skeetelmore65.blogspot.com/
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Hi Nola...I wish we could help one another out alot more, our info is pretty darn limited..
I wanted to mention abt the neurontin..most of those side effects will wear down in a few weeks so be patient...
As far as the narcotics..I am on a fairly low dose of oxycontin, and it does help with the back pain,,,as far as inhibiting mentally, there is some fuzziness/forgetfulness/lightheadedness....but quite minor really, and no I don't think mentally I'm any different, just maybe you'd call it slower reactions???
It would be worth a try if you're pain is limiting you're life!!
Just make sure and see a Pain Management Physician (PMP) who can prescribe and monitor the use of these meds for you correctly.

SKEETEL
My God girl...You need to see a good lawyer/doctor combo(apparently there are some)..what that doctor has done to you is inexcusable ....how can they talk and play music when they are dealing with our bodies and in an area that could effect our whole lives???....I am so sorry for your problems and how unnecessary too.
All I can say is its my opinion that this doctor...has seriously injured a nerve in your spine...read up on ESI's and what complictions are possible.

I suggest both of you join the PAIN MANAGEMENT forum....there are many posters there in similar pain and they have sure helped me with many questions...

God bless you both
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HI again skeetel, I would also suggest that you go on the ASK A DOCTOR forum and see what they think may have happened.
Have you seen any doctors since that are willing to tell you the truth?
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I just read all the posts and must say that my symptoms are nothing compared to what you are all going thru.  I really feel sorry for you and hope you find some relief.  However I thought in the interest of all readers I would share my stuff too in case it's useful to someone.

I have had very mild muscle twitching in my right calf for I think 10 or 15 years, barely there, but if you watched it for a while, it would look like I had some small rodents hiding in there moving around.  No biggie. I've been fairly active, mostly hardcore mountain biking.  Then last year after the last day of snowboarding, I woke up in the middle of the night with my left calf (which is the back leg on my board) fully cramped up which i walked out, rubbed, stretched etc and it was painful for a couple of days and started twitching.  Then it happened again.  I started stretching my calf regularly and the cramps stopped but I get them every now and then at night and sometimes it wants to cramp as I run upstairs.  But the twitching has been constant ever since and lately the twitches are strong enough that they make my foot move.  My calves feel crampy all the time and a bit tender when I rub them and feel like they can cramp without notice.  But I was able to mtn bike all last summer to the smae level althought there were a couple of days when my calves would cramp, usually in the middle of a jump where I would spring off both legs (and they would both cramp in mid air!)  Along with all this I have had back pain for a few years which I assumed got worse from laying hardwood, tiling , moving large boulders by hand, all the stupid stuff I do at home. So went to the doc as my wife says I'm starting to walk around like an old man (I'm 50 by the way), stooped over because standing up straight would cause a sharp pain in my lower back.  So bent over activities like biking seem to be ok. Had an MRI and they concluded I had moderate to severe spinal stenosis and that I had a syrinx from about the mid back to the lumbar, but very thin.  They supposed that the stenosis may be the problem but also said that it could be that I'm just twitchy for no reason.  This is because I sometimes have twitches elswhere like my shoulder, bicep, eyelid, just random it seems.  A couple of years ago my left bicep had a regular twitch which was constant day and night for about 3 months.  But the left calf seems certainly due to snowboarding, or perhaps some underlying predisposition to twitching was inititaed by it, who knows.  But my sister also has had twitching, but not at all to my extent.  She also is not as physical as I am.  Also should note that when I am doing work (renos) on my knees for a long time, I am more likely to get the cramps that night.  Thats not my job, tho seems like it sometimes.  I'm a desk jockey during the day staring at a computer.

So theres my story, no surgeries or accidents like most of you, but still got twitching and cramps and still have back pain, still doing my ab workout which does seem to help, but now the twitches seem stronger than ever.  Electrolyes are fine, eat well, drink lots.  But after reading Skeetals note have decided not to do back surgery, try the core strengthening first.  Like really try for a year or more.  Things seemed better for the first 3 months of the ab workout, doing twice a day religeously, then life got in the way and now I think its a bit worse.  Doing bent over hard work is definetly not helping and the renos are almost over.  I'll let you know in time if my renewed ab thing works out.  btw, had a friend who did do surgery and it did not make that big of a difference to him and he did not stick to any core strengthening routine, thinking the sugery would fix it.  Not!

Good luck to all of you.
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*UPDATE*

I wanted to tell you all that I am currently on 20 mg of Amitriptyline.  I am no longer having convulsions and my lower back pain is greatly relieved.  I do still have the numbness and shooting pains in my legs, but overall, I have had a lot of success.  I have been on this amazing drug for about 3 months and I love it.  It took a couple of weeks to work, but it was worth the wait.  Apparently the drug blocks the pain pathway.  The only noticeable side effect that I have experienced is some hair loss.  I am not balding by any means.  I am just "shedding" a little more than usual.  My hair does not look thinner, so I can live with this.  I highly recommend this drug to anyone with chronic pain.

I hope all of y'all are doing well.  Y'all are in my prayers.  Take care.
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***UPDATE***

Well, Its Rather funny...Back on Nov. 2008, There was a post, Rather long post made by Queenfroggee1, looking for some advice. Well, I found this message board looking for some advice on my problem and I hope someone helps me out. Well, as I read that other post it occurs to me...That was me way back then. How funny is that. Well, so here is my update. Well, I found a new primary Dr. down here in Lake Geneva closer to where im living now, actually only since Nov. of 09. Its been a year as of Feb that I have been unable to work due to my back.
      
   Well, I found a nurse that saw my MRI results from Sept. 08, yes no new scans or xrays....My regular dr. who i have recently fired for lack for care and other things associated with lack of time spent on his each of his patient. He kept telling me he couldnt get me into see the surgeon any earlier because of my insurance(being that it is state insurance) yet this nurse called the same surgeon and got me an appt. 2 wks after i went in for pain and saw her. Nearly a full 2 months before his set appt for me.
      So I went in and seen the surgeon in Nov of 09, He came into the room after looking at the only MRI film i had ever gotten done, he looked at the results from my nerve test, and the report from the 2nd spine doctor and the first thing and pretty the only thing he said was, Since what I have read and looked at, the only conclusion i can come up with is that since you were born with these conditions, and have tried several things...its gonna be surgery. I said wow. Finally, Im thinking someone is actually doing something for me.

So on January 19th, 2010. I had L4-5 fusion with a PLIF procedure. Except and this is the scary part. The surgeon told my fiancee that he was taken back for a minute when he opened up my back, my spine was so compressed, he said it looked like someone took a vice grip to it. He couldnt believe how i managed to function and get around like i was all this time. He ended up adding 4 spacers and I had not just 1 pinched nerve I had ****6**** severly pinched nerves...

So now, Ive applyed and been denied ssi/ssdi bennifits, but i have since then reapplied and am waiting to hear back. my recovery is a year. But the reason i came on here is I too get those ghost pains...No fun...
***But, I need help....Ive been getting these severe and painful massive jolts/spasms. They start like on one side of my body and then they work there way up and around and down the other side. Its like they when you think your gonna fall out of bed and you try to catch yourself. But this is hard and it hurts something fierce. and then sometimes is my hole body like someone shook my whole body all at once. Im hoping someone understands cause its really hard to explain. Also, my legs, lower back(by the insicion) and butt check almost feels like a numb not my own body feeling. like i know im touching it but all i feel is pressure sometimes not nessicarily the actual touch. and then sometimes its just pain and pins and needles. And ofcourse i still have the severe rls.
***Now my question is...I know i still under 30 days post-op and I know that Im gonna have new feelings for awhile or lack of feeling for awhile. And I know that i had an extreme amount of damage due to the shape of my spine and how long it was damage for, but are these normal for the time frame...Whatcha think?? Please anyone

Tis Me Froggee....(Kelly)
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Hi there,
I to have been suffering with similair complaints ,.I have a badly missaligned spine ..
Have had shooting pains regular ..I,m now having power assisted micro -manipulation..Its somethin new and is very good ..I have had 3 treatments up to know and I can walk properly again the pains are going .. please google it and try it ..Love to you all ..Brenda..
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I had L/3 L4 L5/s1 fusion a year and a half ago and I'm pain-free in the back now but have the leg twitching and body jolting problem.  The last time I asked about it I was told it wasn't going to go away (it started before the surgery).  When I touch my left leg on the outside (by the hip), I feel ripples up my spine (which is downright creepy but bearable), and I'm starting to think I might have a touch of caudal equine syndrome (where you don't feel sensations "down there") - for me it's hard to determine when I need to have a BM....I feel a funny sort of tingling in my groin in general and it's taken me a long time to figure out that's a sign to go to the bathroom.  It's hard to know because my BM's were so messed up being on all the previous pain meds. I also think I'm not sexually aroused as well as before (but this might be due to being on an SSRI)....but anyways....it's a year and a half out, I was turned down for disability too but am doing pretty well now.  I'm not on any pain meds. I lost all the weight I gained when I was couch-bound and reading your story about not being able to lay clothes out on the bed brought back some memories (not good ones).....I also had a 1 year old when the severe pain started and it really hampered my ability to care for him.  
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*UPDATE*

The Amitryptaline stopped working in the Spring and it made me gain a ton of weight.  My doctor switched me to 60 mg of Neurontin, which controls the localized lower back pain, but does not really help with the sciatica.  I had my second round of bilateral epidurals 2 weeks ago.  I have yet to see improvement.  The first round lasted for 2 months.  That was it.  I am beyond frustrated.  I am ready to tell my orthopedic spine specialist that I am going to a neurosurgeon.  I want to fix the problem, and not mask it with drugs and epidurals.  The procedure in which you get an epidural was extremely painful and very very uncomfortable.  I love how people on other sites make it out to not be a big deal.  I cannot stand the thought of going through this procedure every few months for the rest of my life.  I feel like I was robbed of my 20s (I'm 26).  I will be damned if I am robbed of my 30s too.  Do y'all recommend going to a neurosurgeon?  I have tried everything.  I did the whole "conservative treatment" for a while now.  I cannot stand this pain.  Most of my life is spent lying in bed because it hurts to stand/sit/walk.  It still hurts lying down, but the pain is lessened when I do lie down.  My next dr. appt. is in December.  I will keep y'all updated.
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I am sorry/glad to see others have the same problem with feet twitching/cramping at night.  It keeps me up for hours (like to night).  Pain meds help, muscle relaxers sometimes but not always help.  Clonazepam aka Klonopin oral disintigrating tabs work the best.  With 10 minutes they stop.
I broke my neck, C6specifically , and had to have c4 to c5 to c6 fusion with discetomy between c4/c5 and c5/c6 replaced with donar bone since mine was pretty much gone.  C6 was nice enough to have pinched/poked my spinal cord enough to cause these foot twitching and cramps, plus tingling in my fingers and toes for, from what doctors gather the rest of my life.

I would love to find a home remedy to stop this.  

Bananas before bedtime do help, but to many backup the plumbing.

Cheating and a shot of vodka helps, or make me just not care about them, but when they start I am willing to try anything to make it stop.  I can't sleep once it starts.
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*UPDATE*

I will be having a Decompression Lumbar Laminectomy on the 25th.  I am scared, but this is my only hope at having some relief.  I will let y'all know how it goes.  I am scared.
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Hi, I was just reading your posts, especially the original one. I had guillain barre syndrome about six years ago, and my legs started twitching about 2 years later. I did some extensive research about this- mainly to make sure it wasn't something else really serious. I stumbled upon something called Benign Fasciculation Syndrome- which is what sounds like most of you have- it is related to nerve damage. There is also a variant of it that causes chronic cramping. So they treat it with blood pressure medication, and they aren't sure why it works, but it does for me. I usually have to be careful with it because I can easily end up with too low blood pressure, so I only take it when the twitching gets bad. I thought I'd put it out there for you all.
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Here's my story I am 46yrs old female,I had a baby 4yrs ago at 42yrs old. I had a scheduled c-section. The anesthesiologist gave me the epidural-everything went fine,they take baby roll me to recovery and then it happens.I am numb from the waist down,couldn't feel any legs or feet. Then all of a sudden my right foot started going side to side it totally freak me out cause I wasn't doing it. It even startled the nurse she said she never saw that happen before(comforting hu?) my husband was trying to calm me down so they paged the anesthesilogist-here comes someone else cause mine was busy at the moment and this jerk was so uncaring and said: "oh,it's doing that cause you're thinking about it"....HELL NO, I was not thinking about this damn foot or leg. He was really making my nerves worst,at this point - my legs are covered w/the blanket cause it was making me crazy and you can see the sheet going back and forth... Well, thank godness the orginal anethesilogist came in and put the other guy out....then my left foot started the same motion- they end up giving me a muscle relaxant and it help stop going side to side- until it wore off and in the middle of the night started up again.  I had NO feeling in either leg for over  24hrs after I had the baby. Eventually, I got feeling(slowly) But I noticed after that week -I started and still have tingling in my arm at night...I haven't been to a doctor I just live with the pain and shake it off but I KNOW it wasn't til I had that epidural this all began. This week the tingling in my arms in aggrevating which is why I started looking up this topic. What kind of doctor do I go to for this problem?
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Avatar_f_tn
My fiance was in a car accident back in march...if it wasnt for a light post he probably longer would not be alive..lucky he had minor bruses abd a couple scrapes on him..but after awhile his legs started twitching..to the point where it looked as if he was just shaking his leg himself..and at first thats what I thought he was doing until I felt it myself..could he have some nerve damange and not know it?
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sounds like severe nerve damage, I know as I have the same thing due to spinal surgery, the doctor put one of the screws into my spine, then I had to have a  second surgery to take it out and put it back right, but he did a lot of damage to my spine,  I ended up with Arachnoiditis AND cauda equina syndrome, if only I could relive that day, I would have never had the surgery to begin with, I am now 1000 x's worse than before, and it has been 6 years.  
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I've been reading yours and the others postings and unfortunately I can relate to you all so well =(  I had a triple fusion in 2010, (L4-S1), and over the past few months have developed muscle spasms on the bottoms of my feet and the back of my thighs.  Happens when I walk, sit, lay down etc., no special time.  When they spasm the bottoms of my feet and toes then go numb or have that pins and needle feeling which lasts for hours.  Over the past couple weeks I've started getting severe muscle spasms down the back of my thighs that radiate onto the sides of my lower legs then into both feet.  Last nights was a winner.....damn thing lasted over 35 minutes.  I couldn't find a position to stand, sit etc., to relieve it and my family was ready to call 911 as I was trying to walk it away while screaming and holding onto furniture so I wouldn't fall.  I've never had pain from a spasm that severe and all I was trying to do was get into bed when it happened.  Today I have moderate pain down the back of my thigh and it does feel like another spasm is getting ready to strike again at a moments notice.

My last MRI, (Oct 2011), showed "moderate to severe fibrosis" in my L5 nerve root, "moderate fibrosis" in my S1 nerve root and I'm sure this contributing to these spasms.  I take 250mg Soma on a regular basis but recently it's like taking a water pill.  I'm calling my doc tomorrow to see if moving up to 350 mg can help.  Last night was night #4 with only 2-3 hrs of sleep and I'm exhausted.  I'm used to a certain amount of pain 24/7 and do take heavy pain meds to control it but these spasms have to go.  I'm willing to try anything now, there has got to be some sort of P/T or the like I can do to help relieve this...
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