Experiencing a back spasm can cause a sensation of tightness in the muscles and hinder movement. It is a prevalent type of back pain that, if left untreated, can lead to a serious underlying condition. To alleviate the pain, you can try at-home remedies such as applying ice or heat, massaging, and stretching. This blog aims to provide you with information on back spasms so that you can take care of them and avoid living with chronic pain. We will discuss the causes, symptoms, and treatments of back spasms.
What is a Back Spasm?
A spasm is when your muscles contract suddenly and abruptly. You may feel an unexpected movement, along with pain. Notably, your upper, middle and lower back muscles are categorised into three types: intrinsic/deep muscles, superficial muscles and intermediate muscles. Most reported cases are of lower back spasms, but any muscle can contract and cause pain.
Does Back Spasm Affect the Rest of the Body?
Yes. Back spasm pain can sometimes radiate to the other parts of your body. When you get back spasms, it can move to different parts, like your hips and thighs.
Causes of Back Spasms
There are several back spasms causes, including:
- Sedentary lifestyle: If you sit too much, have a bad posture, don’t exercise, have back problems or rarely use your back or stomach muscles, then you may develop back spasms. This is because your muscles get weak.
- Using Muscles too often: Athletes and people who do heavy lifting may experience back spasms. This is because your muscles get strained and torn, causing inflammation and leading to back spam.
- Dietary issues: If your diet doesn’t have potassium or calcium, then you may develop back spasms. People who drink less water can also be affected by back spasms.
- Mental health issues: Stress and anxiety also affect your muscles. It creates tension in them, causing back spasms.
- Trauma: Accidents or a bad fall can also cause back spasms.
Other causes for this condition are:
- Kidney stones
- Kidney infection
- Epidural abscess
- Stiff person syndrome
Symptoms of Back Spasms
You may feel a dull ache or cramp when you have a back spasm. It can also be sharp and painful if you bear it too long. Other symptoms are:
- Numbness or weakness
- Loss of balance
- Loss of bladder control
- Loss of coordination
- Muscle weakness in arms or legs
How are Back Spasms Diagnosed?
Doctors ask you about your symptoms and medical history. They will ask questions such as how the pain feels, how long it lasts, any medication you’re taking or if you have a loss of bladder control. They will check for signs of weakness or numbness and where the pain is located. Your provider will diagnose back spasms based on your symptoms.
Treatment for Back Spasms
For back spasm treatment, healthcare providers recommend you to bed rest. They will advise you to do the following:
- Ice and Heat Application: Apply an ice pack or heating pad to your skin for 20-30 minutes. Then, reapply it.
- OTC Medication: Take pain medication such as ibuprofen, naproxen or acetaminophen.
- Muscle Relaxants: Take muscle relaxant medication such as cyclobenzaprine, metaxalone or methocarbamol. It would help to take these pills at night or when not driving or operating machinery. These drugs can cause confusion and drowsiness.
- Physical Therapy: They may ask you to go for physical therapy, where you can learn relaxation techniques and back muscle stretches.
How Can You Prevent Back Spasms?
Back spans are not 100% preventable. However, the following self-care tips can help:
- Exercise often
- Sit with a good posture
- Manage your stress levels
- Get up from sitting positions every 30 minutes
When Should You Visit a Healthcare Provider?
Back spasms can cause profound health implications when left untreated for too long. See a doctor immediately if you experience the following:
- Loss of bladder or bowel control
- Muscle weakness
- Loss of balance
- Numbness in legs
- Loss of coordination
- No sensation in your limbs
In conclusion, back spasms are not a serious health issue when tackled in the early stages. To keep back spasms at bay, workout regularly, sit up after every 30 minutes and stretch your body often. You can take over-the-counter (OTC) pain relief medications. Massage is also helpful. Back spasms that recur may be a sign of a severe disorder. It is good to consult a doctor quickly if you have back spasm symptoms.