What are Back Spasms?
A back spasm is the involuntary contraction or tensing of the muscles in the lower back. The condition ranges from infrequent and mild discomfort to severe pain that makes it difficult to move. Back spasms may occur if you have arthritis or a ruptured disk in your spine. Arthritis in the lower back can put pressure on the spinal cord, which may cause pain in the back and legs. A ruptured or bulging disk in the vertebrae may also pressure a nerve, which can result in back pain.
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:
- Facet joint osteoarthritis
- Pain from a herniated disc
In these cases, the pain is coming from the disc or joint dysfunction causing nerve irritation and the muscle instinctively reacts to the pain and inflammation by going into a spasm.
Causes of Back Spasms
Back spasms can be the result of injuries to the muscles, tendons, and ligaments in the back or it can be related to more serious medical conditions. Any great force can tear the muscles and tendons of the lower back. Back spasms happen often when a muscle is swollen and tender (inflamed) or strained. Any activity that puts excessive strain on the muscles and ligaments in the lower back can cause an injury.
Heavy lifting is a common cause of back spasms. Back spasms occur commonly in sports such as weight lifting, football, basketball, baseball or golf that require pushing or pulling or sudden twisting of the back because they demand that the back turn suddenly and repeatedly.
Your back muscles may be more vulnerable if you have weak abdominal muscles, as they help support the back. Weak or stiff muscles in the back itself can be injured more easily than muscles that are stronger and more limber.
Tips for Back Spasms
Your back works hard for you. The better you take care of it, the lower your risk for developing back spasms will become. As with any health condition, it is always best to prevent back spasms—especially if you tend to develop them. Consider altering your diet and lifestyle by incorporating the following suggestions:
- Take steps to improve your diet / get your electrolytes in order:
- Eliminate sugar and caffeine from your diet and increase consumption of fiber and protein. In addition, remember to eat plenty of calcium and magnesium-rich foods, such as green leafy vegetables, yogurt, legumes, whole grains, tofu, and Brazil nuts. High-potassium foods, including bananas, avocados, lima beans, and fish, may also be helpful.
- Avoid dehydration. To prevent dehydration, consume plenty of fluids and foods high in water, such as fruits and vegetables.
- Avoid excess sodium and soda (high in phosphoric acid), as they can leach calcium
- Avoid chocolate, caffeine, and alcohol, which can interfere with magnesium absorption
- Losing a few pounds if you’re overweight will help relieve the stress on your spine and your joints
- Regular physical activity like strengthening exercises for your back and abdomen will also help keep you moving and feeling great
- Before and after you exercise, stretch muscle groups that tend to cramp or spasm
- Improve your posture. For example, you may have back spasms after sitting at a computer desk for too long in an awkward position.
- Standing up straight and wearing low-heeled shoes will help provide stability and strength in your lower back
- Spending too much time in bed or in a seat will lead to worsening back problems
- Have regular chiropractic spinal adjustments to ensure your spine is functioning optimally to prevent wear and tear