HEALTH: Ask Dr. Olsen

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Thank you Luther Register readers for your questions. This one comes from KM.

Dear Dr. Olsen,

Health question: I am experiencing nighttime leg and feet cramping. Sometimes my feet feel like they are on fire, and they always feel numb. I drink water with every meal and in the evening. I have tried pickle juice and recently I’ve been drinking Powerade. I have had x-rays and they show three bulging disks in my spine. The nighttime leg cramps seem to be happening more often. What do you suggest as a prevention or relief solution? I have also taken Calcium/Magnesium supplements.


Dear KM,

Your question and your symptoms are quite common, yet outside the specific realm of my expertise.   My impression is that it is time for you to be evaluated by an Interventional Pain Management specialist.  Therefore, I have invited Dr. Steve Randall, Interventional Pain Management Specialist and Director of the Randall Vein Clinic to contribute this week and give special insight on what may be causing these symptoms.  I reached out to him in writing, and this was his response.

“This may be a collection of symptoms from more than one source problem, however the most obvious thing to first consider is the diagnosis of “3 bulging discs in my spine.”  Bulging discs in the lumbar spine (low back) can cause a pinching of the nerves that leave the lower back and travel across the hips and down the legs, even into the feet and toes.  This can explain numbness, pain, the feeling of the feet being on fire and even cramping.  Most cases of bulging discs can be treated with a combination of injections at the point of nerve pinching, and physical therapy with good results.  In other cases, surgery is necessary to relieve the pain and numbness and to prevent permanent nerve damage.

Secondarily is your concern about electrolyte imbalance.  Electrolyte imbalance can cause cramping and night-time leg pain.  Often a visit to your primary care doctor can be helpful by measuring the electrolyte levels in your blood by a simple blood test that can identify a specific problem.  At the same time, a careful review of medications should be performed because some medicines can cause an electrolyte imbalance such as diuretics, or “water pills”.  It would also be good to check your blood glucose level to screen for diabetes which is the most common cause of peripheral neuropathy, often described as “burning numbness and pain” in the feet.  Other sources of leg pain exist, but this seems to me to be an obvious place to start.“

I hope this information is helpful.


Dr. Olsen

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One Comment

  1. Thank you Dr. Olsen for all this information and contacting Dr. Randall. I have scheduled with my primary care physician for blood work, etc.

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