View Full Version : Muscle Spasms- any ideas?

Alan Caro
05-20-2018, 11:20 AM

My 92-year old mother has had come and go periods of time during which managing the pain of muscle spasms became a nearly full-time occupation. This pain is severe and she has been at the EM more than once.

The root causes are not entirely clear and the treatment of the symptoms is, likewise, nowhere near a done deal. The diagnosis and treatments have included: dozens of doctor's visits, including orthopedic /spine and pain management specialists, MRI's- another one today-, X-Ray's, CT-scan, all level of over the counter and prescription pain killers, cortisone, other steroids, muscle relaxants, several rounds of physical therapy, and a couple of rounds of acupuncture.

The only treatments said to be effective not yet tried are : heavy Opioids, Bo-tox injections to temporarily paralyze the affected nerves, and apparently, the most promising, CBD- cannaboids that are proven effective in cases of the muscle spasm effects of epilepsy and MS. Unfortunately, Virginia only allows medical marijuana for a particular form of persistent epilepsy.

These flare-ups has meant not being able to commit to any social activity. No: church, going to lunch with friends, shopping, and prevents pursuing her hobbies of watercolor painting and cooking. This pain takes all her attention.

Any thoughts on this subject will be gratefully received.

Alan Caro

andy bessette
05-20-2018, 12:46 PM
Yoga, meditation, deep tissue massage, exercise. Drink lots of water. Avoid coffee.

Alan Rutherford
05-20-2018, 1:10 PM
The solutions can become the problem with painkillers, even NSAIDS and OTC. Stop them if you can, preferably taper off but it's not easy. Same with caffeine, which is even harder to stop. Water, as mentioned. Also reduce sodium (salt) and increase potassium (salt substitute) possibly even adding it to water or drinks. But first look carefully at diuretics and other drugs she might be using that affect potassium levels. Too little is bad but too much is worse. With all those doctor visits she should be getting frequent blood tests and you should read the reports and compare old ones especially re electrolytes. Also re kidney function. CBD does seem like a good possible solution. At 92 you can't wait too long for progress, unfortunately.

Bill Dufour
05-20-2018, 1:31 PM
Get the Shingles vaccination which she probably already has. I wonder if tens unit would help?
hard to say but at her age being addicted to legal prescribed drugs may not be a long term problem.
150 years ago church ladies used to go around and get drunks off demon rum by giving them nice, legal cocaine instead of being godless drunks they saved their souls by taking a little laudnum every day.
Bill D.

PS: my mother is now 97 so I have some idea of how you feel. You want to help but nothing really works that well.

Roy Petersen
05-20-2018, 3:31 PM
When I was building outdoor structures and not drinking enough water I would get occasional leg, back and hand cramps that would drop me to the floor. Tried all sorts of remedies, and one day in desperation asked someone in a health food store what they'd use if they had the same.

Liquid Valerian root extract (glycerine based, not the alcohol version) was the answer. A few droppers into a short glass of water and within a few minutes they'd be totally gone. It was fairly miraculous, to be honest, and I still keep some on hand here for the occasional middle of the night calf cramp. No side effects, not steroidal or addictive (an herbal extract), and a really low investment to try. A company called Puritan(s?) Pride carries it. If you buy there, just be careful to make sure it's not the alcohol version, since it tastes terrible compared to the other (though still an acquired taste), and it's like 20% by volume. The other one has none.

Justin Koenen
05-20-2018, 5:47 PM
For cramps use dill pickle juice ... grandson's football coach used it a lot for players with cramps......couple of swallows ......... I & my wife use and it works fast. Justin

Mel Fulks
05-20-2018, 7:32 PM
Quinine water

Bruce Wrenn
05-20-2018, 8:03 PM
Worst I have ever felt, without a kidney stone, was back spasms. A simple move would trigger them, and only time cured them. For ordinary cramps, drink lots of water. Your mother may not be drinking as much water as she should due to bladder control issues. During the night, when I wake up with a leg cramp, I open a packet of yellow mustard and apply it to my tongue. Usually with in a minute, I get relief. Keep packets in head board of bed.

Dan Hunkele
05-21-2018, 9:22 AM
My cardiologist suggested Vitamin "D" for cramps. He says most of us have low levels and everyone should take 5000IU each day. Did wonders for me.

John K Jordan
05-21-2018, 10:45 AM
My cardiologist suggested Vitamin "D" for cramps. He says most of us have low levels and everyone should take 5000IU each day. Did wonders for me.

My doctor also said dehydration is a common cause. And recommended vitamin D.


Alan Caro
05-21-2018, 11:28 AM
To all,

I sincerely appreciate the comments and suggestions being made.

I should have mentioned the supplements, Potassium and Magnesium, plus the hydration. The Vitamin D and Valerian suggestions are welcome. Pickle jouicw is interesting and that available. I used Valerian years ago to try for more than my usual 3-4 hours of sleep per night- and it does work. Bruce Wrenn mentioned mustard on the tongue and that was tried a couple of days ago. The problem with this condition is that these episodes are so fickle in starting and stopping, it's difficult to pin down what is effective and what isn't.

There is an appointment with a new doctor in two hours- fingers crossed.

Thanks again everyone.


Carlos Alvarez
05-21-2018, 12:06 PM
I was going to suggest CBD myself, and I use it. It's not "marijuana" per se, does your state have special restrictions on it? Here's it's just another supplement, as it should be. And what would happen if you just mail ordered it?

Perry Hilbert Jr
05-21-2018, 12:23 PM
I was having terrible muscle cramps in my ribs, low back and legs, day and night, etc. Sometimes in the side, so bad I could not drive. I already drink a couple gallons of water a day and the doctor told me to drink a pint of tonic water a day. So, yep. (Not seltzer water) Tastes like crap, but the cramps have almost entirely disappeared. Generic tonic water is dirt cheap. about 49 cent a quart.

Mrs. gets dehydrated some times and it is hard to get people to take more fluids. And she is a nurse. I try to keep juice, water, ice tea and soft drinks in the fridge for her. But getting her to drink is another thing entirely.

Keith Pitman
05-21-2018, 6:59 PM
I’ve used Potassium and it has helped. You need to check with her doc to make Potassium (or any other OTC med) does not conflict with her other meds.

Alan Caro
05-21-2018, 7:40 PM
I was going to suggest CBD myself, and I use it. It's not "marijuana" per se, does your state have special restrictions on it? Here's it's just another supplement, as it should be. And what would happen if you just mail ordered it?

Carlos Alvarez,

Yes, I've been looking into CBD, and it it appears to be by far the strongest contender; there's a strong agreement on the benefits for this condition. Unfortunately, Virginia's medical marij. policy is highly restrictive. D.C. has a lieral medical plus quite conditional recreational and Maryland has a medium level of restriction but medical only. However, in both D.C and Maryland, the buyer/patient must be a resident. I lived in CA for 35 years, now with a quite open recreational policy, good friends in Maryland, my aunt lives in Denver-very liberal policy, and niece in Vermont, so I'm so near and yet so far.

It's interesting that you mention mail order as I saw an article in Wired - "new technologies that matter" that mentioned there are quite inexpensive vaping systems for CBD and they are apparently offered by mail with some sort of capsules of the liquid. However, i think edibles would be the most acceptable form to the patient. It's a pity that the extensive medicinal benefits and nearly negligible negative of CBD's are lumped together with the serious narcotics.

Meanwhile, my mother suffers almost continually. She refuses to start down the path of prescription Opioids, Morphine, & etc.



Carlos Alvarez
05-21-2018, 7:43 PM
So they lump CBD along with THC/weed there?? I'm trying to make sure you understand that in most states, CBD isn't considered marijuana nor controlled. We have medical marijuana here, but CBD is just over the counter, no questions, no ID, nothing. As it should be. So I'm trying to make sure you investigated CBD separately from "marijuana" in general?

Capsules are my choice. The vapes are alright, but we really use those for real grass or for regular marijuana oil.

Meanwhile, my mother suffers almost continually.

Ugh, and a bit of a plant could make it better within minutes. Heart-breaking.

michael langman
05-22-2018, 11:01 AM
Carlos, I have a very bad back and muscle spasms daily.
I take a muscle relaxant called Carisoprodol, 350mg. It is stronger then other muscle relaxants and helps me greatly.

Al Launier
05-22-2018, 11:10 AM
Both my wife and I are septuagenarians and have experienced muscle cramps in our calves & feet, especially at nighttime when in bed. My doctor recommended a 500 mg Magnesium supplement daily. It has helped considerably, although not 100%.

Lon Crosby
05-22-2018, 11:48 PM
Check out this web site. http://www.teamhotshot.com/ Actual clinical trials data. For me, works on large muscle cramps but not small muscle cramps. The clinical trails data was important because it showed that the problem is nerves gone bonkers. This has started pharmaceutical companies down a whole new path.

Richard Yates
05-23-2018, 7:28 AM
Hi Alan
I canít recommended anything more strongly the Quinate tablets or also known as Quinine.
I saw that Mel Fulks recommended it earlier on this post. It is a silver bullet miracle drug for cramps. Just check with your moms docter relating to her other meds before taking any Quinŗte.

In a nutshell Iíve had AML Acute Myloid Leukemia 3 times with the last two times requiring Bone a Marrow Transplants. Needless to say Iíve got a few dents in my fenders from all that. So Along with other things Cramps became a part of my life. Nothing and I mean nothing stopped cramps for me like Quinate tablets in literally minutes.
Then with a shift in my meds I couldnít take Quinate any more and here came the cramps again.
I now just do the Magnesium tŗblets and cream of Tartar powder and Hydralites supplements to try and keep the cramps in check.
I sure miss the Quinate.
I hope you find some relief for your Mom Alan. Kind regards Richard

Robert Engel
05-23-2018, 8:56 AM
Where are the spasms, neck or back?

My mother suffered from osteoporosis and spinal column compression which results in continuous problems with spasms.

One technique involves isolating the nerve and burning it.

I recommend a pain management/spinal type clinic IME they handle this type of thing quite well.

Avoid caffeine and stress.

Carlos Alvarez
05-23-2018, 10:59 AM
Hi Alan
I can’t recommended anything more strongly the Quinate tablets or also known as Quinine.

I've heard this a few times recently. I guess that's where "tonic" got its name.

Malcolm Schweizer
05-23-2018, 12:46 PM
We have a vine called "cat's claw" that when boiled into a tea, is used to relieve muscle pain. My friend is a roofer and swears by it, and he is not one of these hippie types that swears by something just because it's trendy. I am sure a health store would have something made from it. We just go into the bush and cut it.

Carlos Alvarez
05-23-2018, 12:53 PM
It is decently documented to help with osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, but poor evidence that it helps with anything else.


Ruperto Mendiones
05-24-2018, 2:48 PM
I can't suppress the internist in me... First off a detailed history and physical reviewing usual medications, previous illness, habits and, since we are speaking to a geriatric patient--water intake. A careful examination might turn up some condition that could be causing spasms. Evaluation of pertinent lab values: sodium, potassium, magnesium,calcium, hemoglobin and hematocrit, kidney function come to mind. This evaluation can't be accomplished in a 15 or 20 minute office visit. I recognize that an hour long thoughtful evaluation is hard to find but that's what is needed.

I'd also say that the medical literature re muscle cramps and spasms is woefully sparse.

Speculating... dehydration sounds likely.

Rich Enders
05-25-2018, 9:01 PM
My adult daughter was told by her doctor to take 5000 IU per day to overcome a deficiency. After 18 months she had many digestive and other problems that related to excessive D. Now the doctor has her back to the "normal" 2000 IU and also feeling normal again.

Carlos Alvarez
05-26-2018, 2:35 PM
I take close to 10k and have for just over ten years. It has improved a lot of things, and that amount keeps me square in the middle of the normal range on a blood test. The only way to know what's right for you is a blood test. Before that I was rather low. I had my first test done in September after spending the whole summer on my boat in the sun and was still low. I can only imagine what it was in winter.