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How do I Choose the Best Treatment for a Muscle Spasm in the Back?

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  • Written By: Rebecca Mecomber
  • Edited By: A. Joseph
  • Last Modified Date: 12 November 2016
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A back spasm is a sudden contraction of one of the muscles of the back. They are usually caused by an inflamed muscle or group of muscles that have been strained or injured, and they might be very painful, depending on the severity of the injury. The best treatment for a minor muscle spasm in the back is rest plus a regimen of ice compresses and analgesics to relieve pain and reduce swelling. Extremely painful spasms or chronic back pain might require stronger pain relievers or physical therapy to strengthen the muscles.

Most back muscle spasms are caused by minor, sudden back strain. Sudden movement, such as lifting a heavy object, or an abnormal twisting of the back, such as suddenly swinging a golf club, might pull or tear one or more of the back muscles. The tissue swells from the strain and becomes inflamed and tender.

A minor muscle spasm in the back will heal itself with simple home remedies. The best treatment is one that allows the muscle to rest and recover from the strain. Ice compresses relieve swelling, and oral, over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen, offer temporary relief from pain.

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A severe muscle spasm should be evaluated by a medical professional to determine the cause. Chronic back pain and severe back muscle spasms might be indicative of a more serious injury or condition, such as weak abdominal muscles, a herniated lumbar vertebra disk or a tumor. Physical therapy is suitable for patients who have weakened abdominal muscles; a regimen of strategic exercises helps to strengthen the muscles of the back and abdomen.

A herniated lumbar disk might cause severe pain and prolonged muscle spasms in the back. A medical professional might prescribe stronger pain medication, such as narcotics or injections, or even suggest surgery to treat the slipped disk. A tumor in the spine might press on spinal nerves, causing severe muscle spasms. Such a diagnosis would require surgery and therapy.

Despite the grim prospects, most back spasms are minor and the result of a sedentary lifestyle, sudden injury or the overuse of back muscles. In most cases, a simple regimen of rest, ice packs and analgesics relieves discomfort and allows the strained muscle to heal. Light exercises prescribed by a physical therapist will strengthen the surrounding muscles and provide protection from further back strain.

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wavy58
Post 4

@lighth0se33 – I am also pretty active, so I was surprised when I started having lower back spasms. I hadn't even done anything to cause them, like twist or lift something heavy.

I took ibuprofen, but the pain did not go away. I started to feel nauseated. I finally went to my doctor, who told me that I actually had a kidney infection.

Kidney pain can be felt in the back and sides, so if you are ever unsure of why you are having back spasms, you might need to get checked out. To me, it felt just like a regular muscle spasm.

Oceana
Post 3

My sister never did any exercises to strengthen her core muscles, so she was prone to back pain. Once, she suffered back spasms so intense that she had to leave work and go to her doctor.

He told her that the root of her problem was insufficient muscle tone. He told her about some simple exercises that she could start with to build up her strength, and these would help prevent back spasm in the future.

Of course, she had to take pain medicine and give herself time to recover before she could start exercising. When she did begin, she started out very slowly and cautiously, not wanting to reinjure herself.

Since she has been doing the exercises regularly, she rarely has any back problems anymore. Had she known that she could have prevented them, she probably would have been exercising all along.

lighth0se33
Post 2

I've always been rather physically active, so weak back muscles were never an issue for me. However, that didn't stop me from collapsing in pain when I twisted too much while swinging a baseball bat.

I immediately suffered extreme back spasms. I had to be rushed to the hospital, where they got me into a room quickly. This was probably because of all the noise I was making!

They gave me pain medicine right away. It was my actual muscles that I had pulled, so surgery wasn't necessary. However, I was told that I should rest for about two weeks and put ice on the area twice a day.

shell4life
Post 1

I've only ever had minor back spasms, but even those can be quite painful. I have had to get a prescription for stronger ibuprofen than you can get over the counter, and that helped me a lot.

Putting ice packs wrapped in a towel on the area also gave me some relief. I could still move around, so I wasn't confined to the bed. However, the soreness made it hard to focus on anything else for awhile.

The prescription strength ibuprofen relieved the inflammation, but it also took away all the pain temporarily. I could take one every six hours, which I had to do for the first couple of days.

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