sudden onset of leg/foot cramps after epidurals - FM symptom?

Discussion in 'Fibromyalgia Main Forum' started by waterlady, Sep 8, 2004.

  1. waterlady

    waterlady New Member

    Hi - I'm new to the message boards but have read articles and used products from this site for several years. Have had FM since 1993 and have never had these problems before. Just wondering if others have had the leg and foot cramps start up after any specific event or treatment?

    I searched the messages and looked at several threads about leg cramps which helped ease my mind a bit, knowing that this symptom is definitely out there.

    In Jan'04 I threw my back out, had MRI and dx bulging discs and degen. disc disease but no nerve impingement, and no sciatica. In Feb'04 I had an electrical PT treatment on the piriformis muscle (runs from hip to base of spine) to try to make it spasm and release in order to loosen it. That backfired royally and was too strong and I immediately thereafter had strong sciatica running down the left leg along with constant tingling in left foot and calf. After further PT and exercises etc. did not resolve it, I had an epidural steroid injection in mid July. One week later, upon awakening and starting to stretch my legs, both feet starting cramping and getting "stuck" in whatever direction I moved. Not extremely painful but very odd. The cramping got better after I stood up and starting walking around.

    I started taking homeopathic quinine tablets and also increased my magnesium and potassium. The cramping didn't get worse, but also didn't go away.

    The sciatica was relieved by the injection but started to come back after 4 weeks so I had a second injection on Aug 31. One day later the leg cramping was much much worse and would start to happen even after lying down for just 30 minutes (at first, it would only happen after being down all night). Increasing the quinine and magnesium did not have any effect. (I was already taking 800mg magnesium per day and tried 1200mg but didn't tolerate that much). I called the pain center where I had the injection and they said I could take the robaxin that I already had from the earlier back injury, so I tried that.
    It helped during the day but the dose did not last long enough to get through the night, so I am now trying soma. I know that flexeril knocks me out too much and I can't function on that.

    These drugs are helping the symptoms but I am concerned about the real cause. I know that I can get an FM flare after overexertion, or lack of sleep, or bad weather, or injury/trauma (and the injections were that!)... but I worry sometimes about being complacent and just assuming that aches and pains are FM-related and trying to deal with it on my own. (That's when I'm not freaking out and deciding that it must be a spine tumor or beginning of MS or who knows what else :)

    Anyhoo, I'm just wondering if anyone with leg/foot cramps ever did get a different diagnosis (i.e. NOT an FM thing) and whether anyone else had such a reaction to cortisone injections.

    The pain clinic said I should check with a neuro again but to do that I need to go through my PCP, so I have an appt for that on Friday. It's hard for me to assert myself and ask for evaluations but this symptom is so different and strong that I'll do it. Hopefully get another MRI or whatever they do to check nerve functions.

    I'm very glad to have found the many other good suggestions for self-care, and thanks to all who might have more ideas!
  2. Shirl

    Shirl New Member

    I can't help with your treatments, but did want to welcome you to our world here.

    Hopefully someone else that is familiar with the injections or had then too will be around tonight to give you some imput.

    Take care, and I sure hope you find out what is causing your leg/foot cramps.

    Shalom, Shirl
  3. TXFMmom

    TXFMmom New Member

    Usually, the leg cramps and pain you describe will respond to quinine and magnesium - but don't take too much.

    It is doubtful that the injection caused this - I found that neurontin caused them and having low potassium can also accentuate them. Be sure and take potassium with magnesium but don't take excessive amounts of either.

    Most people do not realize that sciatica can arise at the pyriformis muscle when the disks and spine are okay. I injured my pyriformis muscle and it has caused me all kinds of problems, including shortening of the leg, pelvic and torso twisting due to the pelvis, and other things but I recently had injections into both pyriformis muscles and a few days later, the world opened up and it helped my spine, pelvis, legs, and everything it seemed. My triggers in the pyriformis and buttocks and legs improved so much my muscles felt like normal muscles instead of those of a body builder. I CANNOT SAY ENOUGH FOR THE BLOCKS, HALLELUJAH.

    As a medical professional, I am so glad I had them and intend to have another set of blocks to attempt to break the pattern in the muscles.

    Good Luck
  4. kredca4

    kredca4 New Member

    First Welcome to the Board. ;o)

    Have you seen an Orthopedic Dr.? You might want to see one before the Neuro, from your Symptoms, it sounds just like what I get when the Sacrum get's out of line.
    Not to many people kknow about that one, but I have a Massage Theraphist Friend, who showed me a good way to get it back into place, but all I have to do sometimes is just step off the porch wrong, or bend down wrong, heck just getting out of bed, someday's, can set the dang thing off.

    Then I would see a Neruo, if the Orthopedic Dr. dosen't see anything, it could even be the Discs in your neck causing the back Pain.

    I have three maybe 4 discs that cannot be operated on, and they are playing Havoc with my Neck & Back Pain.
    I just got back on the Norco, so I am hoping that things will calm down till the end of the month, when I have my PCP appt.

    I'm stuck in a HMO, that makes you wait and wait, and for what, for the PCP, to say, well you need to see such & such Dr. then give you a Referl; that could all be done over the phone.
    Not to mention the time wasted, waiting then for an appt: with the New Dr. It's such a waste of time for the PT. and as far as I am concered, down right Dangerous.

    Just because I have FMS/CMPD, that dosen't mean the Pain isn't being Caused by another condition, so you need to get things looked at, but do they care? Most Dr.'s no, but I do have 2 Great Dr.'s that protect me from the bad one's.

    Good luck, I hope your pain, gets better and you get some answers, we can give out Advise, but it makes better sense to get things checked out, just to be safe, then if it's Just the FMS, (HA! JUST ;o( ?) You will be able to treat it accordingly.

    Just my adivse, and you Know what Free adivse is worth right? lol. lol. Really I wish you luck, having back, leg pain is no fun, no matter what is causing it, Pain is still Pain. ugh!
  5. trasestry

    trasestry New Member

    Waterlady, I couldn't believe when I saw your post this morning.. I,too, had an epidural, two years ago Oct. The epidural went fine..the only "problem" was that the doctor realized he injected the wrong area after the fact, for what my symptoms were. I injured my neck in a rear end collision. That night, I developed SEVERE leg pain, both legs, with muscle spasms. My husband called the office, and they said, it sometimes happens.. to take my medication and I should start feeling better. Well... after seeing several different doctors and telling them my leg pain started that night of the epidural, only 2 said, it could be related, 3 others diagnosed me with fibro. I read an article once...somewhere..that the steriod that is sometimes used, can cause muscle pain.. but.. for the life of me.. cant find that article or anything relating the pain to the epidural. I have been on Ultram, Zanaflex, Vicodin, quinine, mag, cal, zinc... etc.. I have purchased so many different products and "remedies" and nothing helps. The pain just gets worse and worse. What started off to be pain .. once in a while.. now is DAILY..and gets worse with weather changes etc.
    Im sorry I dont have any "remedy" to help you, but you are not alone. Good luck... Tracy
  6. waterlady

    waterlady New Member

    Many thanks for your replies! It does help to hear of others with similar experience and possible remedies.

    Shirl: From reading through some of the messages you seem to be a wealth of information and positive energy - thanks for your welcome!

    TXFMmom: When you say "block" I assume you mean "nerve block"? What chemical is used for that treatment? In my gut I know the original sciatica problem was caused by injury to my piriformis, so I was not really sure that the spinal epidural would help (although my bulging discs are lumbar, F4-F5 and F5-S1, and the neuro wanted to try the injection there first). The ensuing leg cramps, however, have me mystified because they affect both sides -- I wonder if the epidural needle may have hit some other membrane or nerves in there (I did not get a spinal headache, thank goodness). At the moment the problem seems beyond the level of magnesium and potassium supplementation, although I am still taking some so as not to cause any major change in my vitamin routine. I think I will push for any further injections to be made in the piriformis, if that treatment is suggested. Thanks very much for your input -- glad to know the blocks helped you.

    kredca4: No, I haven't seen orthopedic dr., could certainly add that to the list. Sorry to hear you have such problems with your neck. When you get sacrum adjustment, how long does the relief last for you?
    I hear you on the HMO round-about! However, I am very grateful to have the insurance, whatever it is.

    trasestry: Wow, your experience is very close to mine! My epidural was in the lumbar area. After the first shot, when I got "mild" cramps, the nurse at pain clinic said yes, she had heard of that reaction (after the neuro said she was completely baffled by that and had never heard of it!) -- but nobody has said how long these reactions have lasted in the other cases they know about. So still not enough information. I'm very sorry to hear that you have not been able to find something to help the pain. Perhaps a nerve block might be something for you too, as mentioned by TXFMmom.

    Hugs to all!
  7. Eliska

    Eliska Member

    I know I'm ten years later on this thread but wanted to weigh in - I found it while googling 'muscle cramps after steroid injection'. I can't be the only one experiencing this and want to share with others. My doc agrees that the muscle cramps are a side effect, although rare. Of course, being a fibro patient, we always come up with the weird stuff.

    I'm going on almost two weeks of these cramps. They started about a week after the injection - first in feet and legs and then spreading - arms, hands, neck, back. NOTHING relieves them. I'm hoping someone else sees this thread - someone who has found a solution.

    Here are the things I've tried - epsom salt bath soaks, lots more water (I already drink plenty); OTC or prescription pain reliever or muscle relaxer, magnesium or potassium supplements, Ben-Gay or similar rub; definitely don't stretch as that stimulates the spasm
  8. Bowd

    Bowd Member

    Hello. I am having the same type of symptoms. I would describe them as "pressure" type nerve pain, refereed nerve pain, phantom muscle activation, phantom cramping/spasming, or perhaps worms under the skin or bubbles popping under the skin. I find it very difficult to describe. The pain seems to bounce around my leg especially and is oddly painful. This started after an epidural steroid injection for S1 nerve root (L5-S1 focal right sided disc herniation). I still have full strength and no weakness, numbness, or bladder and bowel issues.

    I saw the my Pain Management Physician and we discussed opioids vs gabapentin vs muscle relaxers. I would personally avoid opioids, there bad news for the long term. Since these symptoms are more "stabs and jabs" rather than (true) muscle cramps and spasms, he prescribed gabapentin. I actually had an okay night sleep taking 300 mg before bed.

    I hope this helps. I will try and remember to post again in a week or 2 to let you know if this works.
  9. brutus11

    brutus11 Member

    I just joined and saw this post-I too felt the need to comment. I was getting steroid shots for pain every couple of months for RA rather than take daily meds-I had several side effects. The severe strange muscle cramps, muscle spasms in strange places, swelling(edema) in ankles. I have stopped the shots and am just following my low dose long term antibiotic protocol for the RA(Dr George Nicholson) and it works. The edema is taking the longest, I read your body doesn't process sodium potassium it should as a result of the steroids. I do take lots of supplements and I'm sure that has helped but it certainly didn't stop it from occuring.
  10. Hathor32

    Hathor32 Member

    I have had the same issue for years and found that, I my case only Xanax, as little as .125 mg, helps. Within secs the cramps ease and rarely return.

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