Back Spasms Explained

“Muscle spasm is an involuntary contraction of a muscle that can cause a great deal of pain. When the facet joints of the spine become injured or inflamed, the muscles supporting the spine can spasm causing low back pain and limitation in motion.”
-Spine Health
While this short definition is a good starting point for describing the phenomenon of muscle spasms in the back, there’s a good deal more to know about what causes these painful involuntary contractions and how they can be treated most effectively. This article provides a brief explanation of some of the most common causes and therapy options.

What causes back spasms?
A back spasm can occur when the muscles supporting the spinal column—particularly those in the lower back—become overworked and contract on their own suddenly and without warning. If the muscles contract near the nerve roots around the spinal cord, this condition can be extremely painful.
Muscles that are overworked—lifting unusually heavy loads, moving in ways they’re not accustomed to, stretching beyond their normal range or exerting themselves over longer-than-normal periods—can become inflamed and irritated. In many cases, the pain first becomes noticeable when you’re twisting or bending your back, particularly through more rapid or forceful movements.

lowbackpainedinburgh

Certain sports are more likely than others to trigger back spasms because they require powerful swinging or throwing motions that place asymmetrical stresses on the back. Golf, tennis, racquetball, baseball and football all fall into this general category. Because of the increased resistance and range of motion involved in many common exercises, weightlifting also poses particular risks when it comes to back spasms.

Some types of manual labor are also closely associated with back spasms—shoveling snow, raking leaves, lifting and stacking boxes and working in the garden, just to name a few. The common denominator is a repeated bending or twisting movement combined with some resistance.
Whatever the immediate trigger happens to be, back spasms are likely to get worse if the activity isn’t stopped immediately. But there are also some underlying factors that can make back spasms more likely to recur:
• Weak stomach muscles
• Tight hamstrings
• A tipped pelvis
• Lordosis (an exceptional curvature of the lumbar spine)
• A back condition such as spondylolysis, arthritis or spinal stenosis

How are back spasms treated?
The most common approach to treating back spasms involves first resting the affected muscles so that they can relax and heal, and then strengthening them so that they are more capable of supporting the spine through the required range of motion. It’s worth mentioning that longer-term bed rest is not usually recommended, since this can actually delay healing and result in weakness and reduced mobility. Instead, you should try to be as active as possible, but be sure not to put any unnecessary strain on the back muscles. Plus, many patients also find that massage therapy helps to relax spasm-prone muscles and accelerate healing.

While resting, some experts recommend that you lie on your back on the floor with a pillow under your knees, or with your knees bent and your legs resting on a chair. Common anti-inflammatory pain relievers such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen may also be recommended during the first days, though they should not be taken for prolonged periods. Applying heat for 20 to 30 minutes at a time may help to soothe sore back muscles.

After your back has sufficiently healed, you can begin to introduce more movement. A visit to your chiropractor is always a good idea, since he or she can identify any structural problems (particularly misaligned vertebrae) or postural issues that may be contributing to muscle imbalances or increasing your risk of recurring back spasms. Chiropractic physicians are also specially trained to prescribe exercises that build core strength and flexibility—not only in the back but also in the abdomen—to better support the spinal column as it moves in different ways. Stretching the hamstrings and psoas muscles can also help by reducing the tightness that often develops from spending long hours in a sitting position, and that often increases the likelihood of muscle spasms.
If you or someone you care about is suffering from back spasms, we can provide both short-term relief and long-term answers. We encourage you to call or visit our office today!

Contact Dr. Nicholas Carlisle – Atlanta Chiropractor at (404) 316-1190 (Buckhead) or (678) 771-3060 (Jonesboro) for your appointment.

http://www.drcarlisledc.com

http://chiropractors.healthprofs.com/cam/536552

http://www.youtube.com/user/NCarlisleDC

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