If you’re dealing with a back muscle spasm, you’re not alone. In fact, according to the National Institutes of Health, nearly half of all adults experience low back pain at some point in their lives.
While there are a number of possible causes of back muscle spasms, they’re most often the result of overuse or injury. Fortunately, there are a number of effective treatments that can help relieve the pain and get you back on your feet.
What Are Back Spasms?
Back spasms are sudden, involuntary contractions of the muscles in your back. They can be caused by normal activities such as lifting a heavy object or by an injury to your back.
Most cases of back spasms can be treated at home with self-care and over-the-counter (OTC) pain medicines. In some cases, your doctor may prescribe stronger pain medicines or muscle relaxants.
If you have back pain that doesn’t go away or if your back pain is severe, it’s a good idea to see your doctor. Your doctor can help you rule out other conditions that may be causing your pain and give you a diagnosis. Your doctor may also order tests to help with the diagnosis, such as X-rays, MRI scans, and blood tests.
The key part of treatment for back spasms is rest. You should avoid activities that make your pain worse. Taking it easy for a few days may help relieve your symptoms. You can also try applying heat or ice to the affected area.
If home treatment doesn’t relieve your symptoms or if your symptoms are severe, you may need to see a doctor for further treatment. Treatment options include physical therapy, injections, and surgery.
What Causes Back Spasms?
Common causes of back spasms and how to treat them.
There are a number of possible causes of back spasms, including:
- Spondylolysis: This is a stress fracture of the spine. It is most common in young athletes who participate in sports that place strain on the lower back, such as gymnastics, football, and weightlifting.
- Epidural abscess: This is a collection of pus that develops around the spinal cord or nerve roots. It is usually caused by an infection.
- Car accident: A car accident can cause damage to the spine, muscles, and ligaments. This can lead to back spasms.
- Herniated disk: A herniated disk occurs when the gel-like center of a disk bulges out through a tear in the outer ring. This can put pressure on the spinal cord or nerves, causing pain and spasm.
- Ankylosing spondylitis: This is a form of arthritis that affects the spine. It can cause inflammation and stiffness, leading to back spasms.
There are also less common causes of back spasms, such as dietary issues, stomach muscle problems, gallstones, kidney stones, following disorders, and tumors. In some cases, the exact cause of back spasms is unknown.
Back spasms can be caused by a variety of factors. Some activities that may lead to back spasms include: lifting heavy objects, sudden movements, poor posture, and trauma. If you have any of these risk factors for back spasms, be sure to take precautions to avoid injury (e.g., warm up before participating in such activities).
If you experience back spasms related to lifting heavy objects, be sure to use proper form and lift with your legs instead of your back. You should also see a doctor if you experience severe or persistent back pain or if you have any neurological symptoms (e.g., numbness or weakness in your arms or legs).
The Symptoms of Back Spasms
Back spasms can cause a lot of odd sensations, but the main symptom is muscle spasms. These are involuntary muscle contractions that can be so sharp and sudden that they cause you to lose control of your bowels or bladder.
Other symptoms of back spasms include:
- A dull ache in the affected muscle
- Muscle weakness
- Difficulty moving the affected body part
- In severe cases, loss of sensation or paralysis in the affected body part
If you experience any of these symptoms, it’s important to see a healthcare provider right away. They will be able to diagnose your condition and recommend treatment options.
How Are Back Spasms Treated?
The first step in treating back spasms is to stop the activity that is causing the spasm. If you are engaging in strenuous activity, such as lifting heavy machinery, your healthcare provider may recommend that you stop the activity and rest. Bed rest is usually only recommended for a day or two, as such inactivity can cause further muscle weakness and atrophy.
Your healthcare provider may also recommend that you apply ice to the affected area for 20 minutes at a time, several times a day. This will help to reduce inflammation and pain. Heating pads or hot soaks can also be helpful in relieving back spasms. Over-the-counter pain medications, such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), naproxen (Aleve), or acetaminophen (Tylenol), may also be recommended to help reduce pain. However, you should always check with your healthcare provider before taking any medication, as there can be potential side effects.
If your back spasms are severe or do not respond to initial treatment, your healthcare provider may also recommend physical therapy or relaxation techniques. Physical therapy can help to stretch and strengthen the muscles in your back and improve your range of motion. Relaxation techniques, such as yoga or massage, can help to release muscle tension and reduce stress levels.
Can You Treat This Yourself At Home?
Whether you have suffered from a back muscle spasm before or not, it is important to know how to treat one should the need arise. Many people think that they need to go to the doctor or hospital for treatment, but this is not always the case. If you have a milder spasm, there are several things that you can do at home to ease the pain and discomfort.
The first thing that you should do when you have a back muscle spasm is to sit or lie down in the most comfortable position possible. This will help to take the pressure off of the affected area and allow your muscles to relax. You should avoid lying on your stomach as this can make the pain worse. If you need to lie on your back, be sure to use large pillows under your knees so that your back is not in a twisted position.
If possible, try to get up and walk around for a few minutes every hour or so. This will help to keep your muscles from getting stiff and will also increase blood flow to the area, which can help to reduce pain and inflammation. However, if walking is too painful, you can also try lying on your back with a cold pack on the affected area for 20-30 minutes at a time.
Another way to reduce pain and inflammation is to change positions often. This means that if you are sitting, stand up and move around every 30 minutes or so. If you are lying down, try changing positions every few minutes. This will help to keep your muscles from getting too comfortable in one position and will also help to reduce stiffness.
In addition to these self-care measures, there are also several things that you can do to prevent future back pain and muscle spasms. First, be sure to practice good posture habits both at home and at work. Second, learn safe lifting techniques so that you do not put unnecessary strain on your back muscles.
Third, avoid sitting or standing in one position for too long as this can lead to muscle fatigue and strain. Finally, be sure to use soft couches and chairs rather than hard surfaces as this can put unnecessary pressure on your back muscles
Heat, Ice, and Medicines
There are several ways you can treat a back muscle spasm. You can use heat or ice to help relieve the pain. A warm cloth, heating pad, or warm water bottle can soothe the affected area. Or you can use a cold pack to reduce inflammation.
You can also take over-the-counter medicines, such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen, to help relieve the pain. If these don’t work, your doctor may prescribe inflammatory drugs or stronger medicines. Be sure to ask your doctor before taking any new medicine.
Body Positions and Posture
There are a few things you can do to help relieve the pain of back muscle spasms. The first is to find a comfortable position and stay in that position. You may need to change positions frequently, but usually staying in one position is best. If you have to sit or stand for long periods, try to keep your back straight and your head up. Avoid slouching and sitting on soft couches or chairs. On the first day, you may need to lie down most of the time.
Another way to help relieve back pain is to avoid twisted positions or large pillows under your head. Try placing a pillow under your knees when lying down. This will help keep your back in a straight line. You should also sleep on your side or on your stomach with a pillow under your hips. These positions will help take the pressure off your back muscles.
Physical activity is important for people with back muscle spasms. They should do longer walks on level surfaces and avoid stuff that makes their backs start to hurt. Good posture, regular stretching, and safe lifting techniques will help prevent future back pain. Other ways to prevent back pain are short walks several times a day and avoiding sitting or standing in the same position for long periods of time.
When Should You Ask for Help?
If you experience any of the following, seek emergency medical care:
- Loss of bowel or bladder control
- Numbness in your anal or genital area
- Paralysis in your legs
- Severe weakness
- Worsening pain
If you have severe back pain, call your doctor. If you do not have a doctor, call a nurse advice line to help you decide whether you need to be seen. Some people experience muscle spasms and wonder if they need medical care. You might need medical care if your symptoms are getting worse or if they are impacting your ability to perform daily activities.
Here are some signs that you should call for medical advice:
- You have bowel or bladder control problems.
- You develop new numbness in your anal or genital area.
- You develop new weaknesses in your legs.
- Your pain gets worse with rest, improves with activity, and is not helped by over-the-counter medicines.
- You have trouble performing daily activities such as dressing, bathing, and going to the bathroom.
Frequently Asked Questions
There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question, as the best remedy for back spasms may vary depending on the individual's specific situation. However, some possible treatments for back spasms include stretching and strengthening exercises, massage, heat therapy, and over-the-counter pain medications.
There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question, as the best way to treat muscle spasms in the lower back may vary depending on the underlying cause. However, some common treatments for muscle spasms in the lower back include heat therapy, massage, and stretching. Additionally, over-the-counter medications such as ibuprofen may be helpful in relieving pain and inflammation associated with muscle spasms.
There could be a number of reasons for this. It could be a muscle strain, a herniated disc, or arthritis.
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If you notice that you or someone you know has back muscle spasms, it is important to seek the best care possible. While back spasms can be treated at home with over-the-counter medications, some cases may be indicative of a more serious condition. If you experience other symptoms such as fever, nausea, or vomiting, it is important to seek medical attention immediately.
Your healthcare provider can determine whether your symptoms are indicative of a serious disorder and recommend the best course of treatment. In some cases, you may need to be seen in the emergency department for further evaluation and treatment.
Alan Walker is an author, researcher, and contributing writer at Spine Institute NY. He is a typical introvert, coffee fanatic, and freelancer.”