What Is Your Back Muscle Spasm Telling You?

Muscle spasms in your back can be so painful that they may have you headed for the emergency room. If you experience a back muscle spasm, make sure to stop and listen to your body. Either your back is telling you not to do that activity ever again, or it's warning you that there's a more serious underlying issue.

Lower Back StrainA muscle strain can be so painful that you may think something is seriously wrong.
Lower Back Strain Video

Causes of muscle spasm

The first step to getting to the bottom of what your back is telling you and to feeling better is to determine the cause of your back muscle spasm.

Muscles spasms occur:

  • As a result of the muscles trying to protect themselves from a muscle strain or sprain or
  • In response to an underlying condition

If your muscle senses that it is about to be torn as a result of a sudden movement, it will contract and spasm in an effort to protect itself. With some TLC, that muscle will start to feel better in a week or two.

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If your back spasm does not get better in 1 to 2 weeks, or it comes and goes in the same spot, you may have an underlying problem in your spine. Underlying issues that could cause your back to spasm include:

In these cases, the pain is coming from the disc or joint dysfunction and the muscle instinctively reacts to the pain and inflammation by going into a spasm.

Treating muscle spasm

The goal of treating the muscle spasm is to get the muscle to relax, thus relieving the pain. Some effective treatments include:

If your spasm is occurring as a result of an injury (such as a strain or sprain), these measures will get you through the relatively small amount of time it will take for the muscle to heal and go back to normal.

On the other hand, if your spasm is occurring in response to an underlying spine or disc dysfunction, these treatments will help treat the pain, but not the underlying cause itself. To read more about treatments for joint osteoarthritis and herniated discs, see:

Treatment Options for Facet Joint Pain and Treatment Options for a Herniated Disc

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