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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.

44 Responses
Avatar universal
How old are you max?
Are you most comfortable sitting than in bed?
and are you  diabetic?

Avatar universal
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.
Avatar universal
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.
Avatar universal
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.
Avatar universal

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. :(
Avatar universal
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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st. louis, MO
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