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Date of last update: 10/04/2017.

Forum Name: Neurology Topics

Question: severe, painful, leg muscle cramps/contractions

 Montanagal - Mon Jul 09, 2007 12:14 pm

My mother is 63 years old and has episodes of extremely severe leg muscle cramping or contractions. These episodes happen about three times a week, at night, and each episode is about 10 minutes long. Sometimes there will be two or three episodes in one night. When these happen the pain is very severe and she has my dad lay on her legs or sit on her legs. Dad says he can feel the muscles crawl and move under the skin. Mom cries out in pain while these are going on. It will affect the thighs and then move to the calves and sometimes her toes and feet point up toward her body, and it helps the pain a bit to push the feet back into normal position. My mother is diabetic and has had neuropathy for years. She has no sensation from the knees down. She is active during the day. (Parents own a furniture store and she is on her feet a lot of the day.) She has told her family doctor about these episodes but I am afraid she is not describing how severe they are. If anyone could give me a clue as to what these might be and what causes them and any possible treatments, I would be very grateful. I am not sure this is a neurological problem but I thought it may have something to do with her neuropathy. Thank you for your time!
 Marceline F, RN - Tue Jul 10, 2007 6:36 am

User avatar Dear Montanagal,
I appreciate your attention to your mom's symptoms. While neuropathy can be very debilitating, there are other sometimes fairly easily resolved conditions that can cause the type of cramping - almost "charley horse" style - that you are describing. When was the last time your mom had routine lab work? An unbalanced chemistry can definitely cause the kind of cramping you are concerned about. The usual culprits are abnomal levels of potassium, sodium, calcium and magnesium. With the long term problems she already has with diabetes, it is possible that she has other parts of her body affected with less than optimal function, besides peripheral neuropathy. Can you call her doctor's office and let them know of her current problem? Sometimes the doctor can order labs through a local outpatient laboratory, and the results would be sent to his/her office when the tests are run. Sometimes the doctor may suggest you present to the laboratory at the local hospital where he/she has privileges. The lab test is simply to take a blood sample and run it to see what the level of these elements are in the body. Her primary physician can tell from these results, and other measurements that are included in the test, if there are abnormalities that can be easily resolved, or if additional tests are necessary. In either event, she deserves to know what the source of her pain and cramps are.
 Montanagal - Tue Jul 10, 2007 9:16 am

Marceline, thanks for your reply. I read parts of what you said to my mom and I think she will finally go to her doctor again for this. You are right about her other organs not operating optimally. She has poor kidney function and when she had her gall bladder out last year they could see that even her liver was not healthy. Diabetes is a bugger. Anyway thanks for your time, and now that mom sees it might have an easier solution I think she will pursue it. Best wishes to you.
 Marceline F, RN - Wed Jul 11, 2007 3:14 am

User avatar Dear Montanagal,
Thank you for your kind feedback. Please let us know the outcome of the lab work and doctor's visit.
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