Back spasms are among the most commonly encountered types of spasms out there.
To understand the causes that may lead to the development of a back muscle spasm, you should first understand how muscles are grouped and how spasms can affect every type of muscle in the human body.
There are three main types of muscles in the body: the heart muscle, the smooth muscle, and the skeletal muscles.
All of these types of muscles can be affected by spasms and the circumstances that may lead to it can differ a lot, according to the patient’s medical history, as well as according to other factors such as the environment in which the spasm occurs (hot weather can be a cause, for example) and the activity that was performed by the patient when the spasm occurred.
What Causes Back Spasms?
The skeletal back muscle spasms are probably the most frequent spasms that occur especially in those individuals that have a poor physical condition (but it is not limited to them since athletes can suffer from muscle spasms as well).
Some of the most common causes of back spasms include the following:
1- Dehydration and Bad Nutrition
Muscles need nutrients, water and electrolytes to work properly. When you are not properly hydrated or when, for one reason or another, nutrients do not reach the muscles.
Other than water and electrolytes, muscles will need potassium, sodium, and magnesium, which is why you should always eat healthy meals that are rich in these nutrients (especially if you perform strenuous exercise).
2- Lack of proper warm up before working out
Each time you start working out, no matter the difficulty of the workout, you should always allow 5 to 10 minutes to easily warm up the muscles.
3- Ruptured vertebral disc
This is another common cause that may lead to muscle spasms, and its diagnosis and treatment should always be made by a medical professional, since multiple special tests may be required.
4- Lumbar Spine Arthritis
Arthritis usually affects knee joints and finger joints, but it can actually affect any kind of joint in the human body, including the back joints.
5- Spinal Stenosis
This is a common cause in older adults, and it can cause back pain because it obstructs the vertebral canals.
These are very frequent causes that can lead to back spasms, but there are some out there that you may not have known about.
Here are a few of the most unusual back spasm causes that you may encounter:
1- Stress and anxiety
These two psychological conditions do not only affect the way you feel but also the way your body works.
Since most of the times they come along with a lot of strain, both physically and psychologically, back spasms may occur.
2- Kidney stones
When a kidney stone is released, the back muscles will work to make it happen. Thus, spasms may occur in the lumbar area.
3- Menstrual cycle
Although most of the women experience pain in the frontal area of their body when they are having their menstrual cycle, some will experience pain in the lumbar area. How to Relieve PMS Symptoms.
4- An Abnormal shape of the spine
Some diseases, such as Scoliosis, create an abnormal curve in the spinal cord, which can sometimes lead to severe back pain.
5- Exposure to pesticides
Long-term exposure to pesticides may lead to pesticide poisoning. Among the symptoms that may appear in case of poisoning with Chlordimeform (an insecticide and miticide), back pain is very commonly encountered.
6- Esophageal spasms or acid reflux
Although this falls into a whole different category of muscles spasms, the pain the patient experiences can extend to the upper back and arms, which can be considered to be a cause of back spasms. 10 Steps you can take to treat esophageal spasms naturally.
7- Infections or tumors
These are among the most serious conditions that may lead to back muscle spasm, and if you experience it for extended periods of time or if they become too frequent without any apparent reason, you should definitely go see a doctor.
Back Spasms Treatment
Muscle spasms are completely treatable, but it depends a lot on what it has caused them to begin with.
Typical at-home remedies include applying hot bottles of water or towels unto the painful area or applying ice on it.
Also, standing with your legs raise is another thing you can do at home to relieve yourself from muscle pain.
This can help even if you are just elevating your legs a little on some pillows (especially if the pain is too strong to elevate your legs higher, at 90 degrees, for example).
Furthermore, general relaxation techniques (such as meditation or simply reading a book or watching a movie) can help a lot, especially if the cause of your back pain is emotional stress.
Medication can also be prescribed to cure back muscle spasms, but even if they are over-the-counter, you should still talk to a doctor or physician about taking them.
Typically anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving drugs are prescribed in such cases, as well as muscle-relaxing creams.
If back pain persists even by using the above-mentioned treatment, then you should go see a doctor for further investigation.
Typical red flags in the case of low back pain include sudden and unexpected weight loss (which can be a sign of cancer), and loss of your control over your bladder and bowel (which together with motor weakness and sensory deficit, could trigger CaudaEquina Syndrome).
Also, if the back pain comes along with fever, immunosuppression and urinary tract infection, this may trigger the development of an infection in your body.
In case there are more aspects to consider about a patient’s back spasms, a doctor will perform a series of tests, such as a CT scan or an MRI.
These will show everything the doctor needs to be able to put a diagnosis and give you the correct treatment.
In some cases (such as when the patient suffers from spinal stenosis, for instance), surgery may be necessary, but it will be avoided as much as possible.