Back spasms are involuntary contractions of muscles in the back that tend to cause a lot of pain. Spasms can occur in any muscles involving the spine but most often they occur in the lower back region. These spasms can be for a prolonged time or for short instances, but as there are many nerve endings in this region contraction of muscles in this area can lead to great deal of pain and may also limit motion.
Basically back spasms occur when the facet joins of the spine becomes swollen, inflamed or injured. Spasms are a natural phenomenon and it is believed that these spasms protect the back from further injury. For example, if there is a spine injury the muscle in that region will contract and cause excruciating pain and immobilize that area of the back so the person will avoid movement and this will prevent further tearing of ligaments.
The lower back is a very complicated and delicate structure which has interconnected tendons, muscles, small joints, soft tissues, nerve roots, sensitive nerve endings, spinal discs, etc. Any injury or slight irritation in any one of these structures can cause a back spasm and pain which can radiate to the lower extremities and adjoining areas. Pain due to back muscle spasm can range from mild to severe but sometimes it can be debilitating for weeks.
Causes of back spasms:
The majority of people experience some kind of back pain in their lives but not all have muscle spasms. Usually, the sudden back spasm symptoms occur commonly in sport activities like weight lifting, basketball, football, golf, horse riding, etc that involves pushing, pulling, twisting and exertion on the lower back. Very often back muscle spasm is experienced by people who have jobs that involve packing, lifting, bending, twisting, carrying weight or those who have poor desk ergonomics.
The repeated movements put a lot of stress on the muscles and this overuse of the spine weakens the back muscles leading to back spasms. Other causes of back spasm are athletic trauma, lordosis, chronic ailments like arthritis, osteoporosis, spondylolisthesis, disk rupture, spinal stenosis, etc. Injuries to the back, often times from twisting type of activities can leave you with lower back pain right side or lower left back pain. Thought sometimes they can be as simple as a pulled back muscle.
Spasms occur due to contraction of muscles and generally the pain is experienced on the site of the pain or in the area where the disc presses against your ligaments. Sometimes the pain radiates all along the nerve pathways. Typically, the pain intensifies and exacerbates with movements.
Prevention and treatment for back spasms:
If your spasms are isolated instances, they can be treated with conservative treatments like muscle relaxants and back exercises for men or women. But, if your pain increases with movements then stop doing whatever activity you are doing and do not exercise. Otherwise, this will put additional stress on your spine and can cause more damage or pain and lengthen your recovery.
Generally health care professionals prescribe anti-inflammatory drugs to reduce swelling and muscle relaxants to ease mobility. If your spasms are job-related or sport-related, refrain from the particular activity till your doctor grants you permission.
You can do gentle back stretches or do gentle massaging on the spasm area to ease out stress and keep the muscles relaxed. This spinal stretch device was instrumental in my own personal recovery from back pain and I can’t recommend it enough. My dad had one and he is the one who originally introduced it to me. My brother got one after I had success with it too. Its super convenient as you just lay on the ground and allow it to do the work for you while you watch a movie or something comfortably. Just make sure to support your head with a pillow.
Besides these you can also try:
- Ice therapy: This is very effective to control swelling and is considered as the best back spasm treatment in the initial 48 to 72 hours. You must periodically apply ice packs to subside your muscle spasms and pain.
- Heat therapy: This is effective after 72 hours.
If the pain is very severe your practitioner may prescribe pain management injections or chiropractic care or spinal manipulation.
Nonetheless, recurrence of back spasms is very high so you must resume your daily activities only after complete recovery. Moreover, to prevent recurrence you must avoid overloading your spine with extra weight or doing strenuous activities that lead to frequent back spasm pain.