Approximately 80% of the population in the United States will experience back pain at some point in their lives. The involuntary contraction or tensing of the muscles in the lower back is known as a back spasm.
The condition can range from infrequent spasms that cause minor discomfort to chronic spasms that cause severe pain and make movement difficult.
Back spasms are usually treated successfully without surgery. If the pain is caused by nerve problems in the spine, treatment may be required.
Causes of lower back spasms
Back spasms can be caused by injuries to the back's muscles, tendons, and ligaments, or they can be a sign of a more serious medical condition. Back spasms are frequently caused by heavy lifting.
Aside from heavy lifting, any activity that puts undue strain on the lower back's muscles and ligaments can result in injury. Back spasms can be caused by sports like football and golf, which require the back to turn suddenly and repeatedly.
If your abdominal muscles, which support your back, are weak, your back muscles may be more vulnerable. Muscles in the back that are weak or stiff are more susceptible to injury than muscles that are stronger and more limber.
If you have arthritis or a ruptured disc in your spine, you may experience back spasms. Lower back arthritis can put pressure on the spinal cord, resulting in pain in the back and legs. Back pain can also be caused by a ruptured or bulging disc in the vertebrae, which puts pressure on a nerve.
Diagnosing back spasms
An X-ray may be ordered by your doctor to check for signs of arthritis or a bone fracture.
To get a better look at the muscles and other soft tissues, they may order magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or computerized tomography (CT). These scans can also reveal potential disc issues or blood supply issues in the affected area.
By providing a detailed description of your symptoms, you can assist your doctor in making an accurate diagnosis. Prepare to talk about:
- the severity of your back pain
- how often it flares up
- what relieves the pain
- when it started
If you started getting spasms after a sports injury or some other physical activity, such as moving furniture, be sure to tell your doctor. This could help determine whether the spasms were caused by a muscle injury.
Treating lower back spasms
Try alternating ice and heat on your back if your spasms start after an injury or an activity that stresses the muscles. Heat and ice can both help to reduce inflammation and improve blood flow.
While the muscles heal, medications like nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and muscle relaxants may help relieve symptoms. Muscle relaxants, according to research, provide significant pain relief in short-term muscle spasms.
Anti-inflammatory medication (cortisone) injections may also be beneficial. Every medication, however, has the potential for side effects. Inquire about the risks and benefits of these injections with your doctor.
Chiropractic treatment may be beneficial, but you should first see a doctor to have your condition properly diagnosed. As long as the muscles are healthy enough to exercise, physical therapy to help strengthen your back and abdominal muscles are frequently recommended.
Preventing back spasms
Your back puts in a lot of effort for you. The better you take care of it, the less likely you are to develop back spasms.
- If you're overweight, losing a few pounds can help relieve the strain on your spine and joints.
- Standing up straight and wearing low-heeled shoes will help your lower back gain stability and strength.
- Regular physical activity, such as back and abdominal strengthening exercises, will also help you stay active and feel great.
- Back problems will worsen if you spend too much time in bed or in a chair.
Consult your doctor before beginning an exercise program if you are not currently physically active. They might recommend some exercises that are less taxing on your back.
Outlook on back spasms
If you experience back spasms, see a doctor right away. Back pain is usually treatable, so there's no need to put up with spasms that keep you from working.