What are Common Causes of Back Pain and Muscle Spasms?

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  • Written By: A. Garrett
  • Edited By: John Allen
  • Last Modified Date: 27 September 2019
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When muscles in the back are contorted in unnatural positions, strained, or suddenly twisted, muscle spasms often occur. Tension in the back muscles due to poor posture or lifting heavy objects improperly can also cause spasms. Muscle spasms are one of the leading causes of back pain, and the types of pain they cause depend on the severity of the injury. How back pain and muscle spasms are treated varies, based on how severe the pain is and the degree of muscle tightness that the patient is experiencing.

Muscle spasms are usually brought on by an injury to the muscles of the back. Sudden movements or overtaxing the back muscles forces them to involuntarily contract. Muscles that are tense or tight for a prolonged period of time are also prone to involuntary contractions. This tensing is the basis for back pain and muscle spasms. Consequently, they can be caused by a wide array of daily activities ranging from coughing to moving heavy boxes.

People have different thresholds for back pain. The physical symptoms associated with muscle spasms in the back range from feelings of mild cramping to sharp, incapacitating pains. Most pain occurs suddenly and lasts for several minutes at a time, although some muscle spasms in the back extend for hours.


The treatment for back pain and muscle spasms is contingent on how the initial injury to the muscle happened and whether or not the patient can physically rehabilitate the muscle on his or her own or will need the assistance of a medical professional. Injuries from improper motions or overuse are the easiest to treat because the cause of the muscle spasms has already occurred. Most healthcare providers will apply some form of heat therapy, rest, and gentle range of motion exercises to alleviate the discomfort. If tightness in the muscles is the cause of the back spasms, relief will take longer because the underlying muscle stiffness must be addressed through physical therapy sessions. A medical professional may also prescribe muscle relaxers in order to mitigate the physical symptoms.

Stretching can sometimes help prevent muscle injuries from occurring. People should also maintain an upright posture to help the back muscles stay limber and flexible. Employing proper lifting techniques and wearing back supports limits strain on the back muscles and will often stave off back pain and muscle spasms.


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Post 4

Sometimes just having really bad posture can bring on back pain. My cousin was a frail girl who sat slumped over with her back curled at her desk, and one day when she tried to straighten up, a horrible pain shot through her back.

Since she did not have good muscle tone, she had to wear a back brace to help her recover. It forced her to maintain good posture at all times, and it helped her learn the proper way to sit in a chair.

When she was finally able to remove it, she began doing abdominal and back exercises to strengthen her core muscles. Strong abs will help hold your back in place, so she focused mainly on crunches and dance moves designed to develop the abdominal muscles.

Post 3

@orangey03 – That type of back pain is just the worst. I injured myself while trying to pick up some heavy furniture, and I had to spend a week in bed recovering.

I simply did not have the strength to lift that refrigerator by myself, and my back gave out. I have since learned my limitations and that no need to rearrange furniture is great enough to risk incapacitation.

Having said that, I have never felt more relaxed than I did while taking the muscle relaxers. I felt drunk and giddy, and I can see how a person could become addicted to them.

However, once I came down from my high after a week of medicating myself, I could see that my back was better. I put the pills away and promised myself I would only take them during bouts with extreme back pain.

Post 2

I have had severe back pain before, and it is not something I ever want to experience again. I pulled a muscle while turning to pick up a heavy box and rising up with it, and immediately, my back started cramping.

The spasms felt constant. It was as if a continual current of painful electricity were coursing through my back muscles, forcing them to contract over and over. It felt so unbearably tight.

I had to get muscle relaxers from my doctor and spend a couple of days resting. I felt bad that I couldn't finish helping my friend move out of her house and into her new home, but there was just no way. I could barely even get up to go to the bathroom.

Post 1

My sister works at a vet clinic, and she often has to lift heavy dogs to put them in the bathtub or on an exam table. She suffers frequent back cramping, and after missing several days of work because of it, she had to go see a physical therapist.

He gave her a list of exercises to do that should relieve her lower back pain and prevent the spasms from happening again. The only challenge was getting well enough so that she could do the exercises. She had to take strong pain relievers for several days before she could even attempt the physical therapist's recommendations.

She has found that the exercises have strengthened her lower back considerably. The therapist also told her to use proper lifting techniques when picking up a heavy dog, but this is nearly impossible, since they squirm around so much and put up a fight.

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