Back spasms can occur suddenly and cause intense and even debilitating pain that leaves you unable to move or do anything for some time. More often they result from a recent physical injury, sedentary lifestyle that leads to weaker back muscles, and dehydration. The therapists and physicians at the physical therapists NYC specialize in treating back pain and offer cutting-edge solutions for pain management. The top-rated therapists look for the reasons behind your painful episodes and come up with the best-suited treatments that help you seek quick and lasting relief.
A back spasm is a sudden tightness and pain in your back muscles. It may happen from overuse of muscles or an injury. Even seemingly normal movements like sleeping awkwardly, bending, lifting, standing, or sitting can sometimes cause a spasm. But the causes are not always clear, and you must take caution, practice home care and seek medical assistance if your pain fails to subside.
In most cases, getting back to the normal activities is good for your back and overall health. Make sure you do not overdo or do things that worsen the pain and land you with further complications.
What Are Back Spasms?
Back spasms are involuntary contractions of back muscles that fail to relax. These spasms can occur in any muscle in your body and cause sharp and intense pain. Muscle spasms in the back range from minor discomfort and stiffness to sharp, severe pain and muscle tightening that prevents regular back movements. It could be a certain activity that is causing the pain, or it may be a warning sign of a more serious underlying issue in the spine.
Back spasm may last anywhere from a few days to a few weeks. When your muscle contracts, it may also feel hard to the touch or appear twisted under the skin.
Home treatments include using hot or cold packs, over-the-counter pain-relieving medications, and avoiding any activities that trigger a spasm or aggravate the pain. Back spasms that do not get better with home care may need medical attention. Physical therapy such as a massage or manipulation can help to alleviate the pain and ease the spasm. The doctor may also recommend light exercises or physiotherapy to improve strength and flexibility in your back muscles to prevent further episodes.
Here are the experts’ recommended steps you should consider taking to relieve back spasms.
Take a Hot Bath or Use a Hot Pad
Taking a hot bath can help you with painful muscle spasms. Heat can increase blood flow and relax the tense muscles. The blood carries nutrients and growth factors to areas that are injured. Thus, if you are suffering from spasms due to injury, increasing the flow of blood through a warm bath can make you feel better and recover faster.
Alternatively, apply a heat pack or a heating pad to relax the affected muscles, increase blood flow and alleviate the discomfort. Try a heating pad several times a day for up to 20 minutes each time, and it will ease the spasm.
Use a Cold Pack
Applying ice wrapped in a towel or some protective clothing or a cold pack to the painful part of the back is another effective way to find relief from muscle spasms. Cold therapy is known for reducing inflammation, and it can lessen the pain too. You can use a commercial ice pack or make one yourself.
Cold therapy should be applied for 15 to 20 minutes at a time. Give the skin a rest for a couple of hours before the next application.
Apply Over the Counter Topical Creams
Over the counter, topical creams are designed to fight muscular pain and offer quick relief. These creams contain counterirritants, salicylates, or lidocaine that create a burning or cooling sensation that distracts your mind from the pain and lessens it by absorbing it into the skin.
The topical creams can be applied in a thin layer up to three or four times a day. They numb the pain and relax the muscles, which helps you feel better.
Increase Your Electrolyte Intake
Minerals such as calcium, magnesium, and potassium are electrolytes that control muscle contractions throughout the body, including the heart. When there is an electrolyte imbalance or these minerals are depleted in the body, whether due to poor nutrition or stress, it can result in spasms.
Increase your intake of foods and drinks that are rich in electrolytes. Whole foods such as avocado, potatoes, spinach, fresh meat, and eggs are rich sources of minerals. The easiest way to get more electrolytes is by drinking water with salt.
Massage the Painful Muscle
Massaging the contracted muscle gently can release the tension. You can either massage the tensed muscle yourself with gentle hands or ask someone to help you by stretching the muscle and allowing it to relax. Massaging the stressed muscle as a preventive measure can also reduce frequency of back spasms.
Sit in a Comfortable Position
You can reduce stress on your lower back by laying on your back in bed with the upper body supported at a slight incline and a pillow propped under the knees. Resting in a comfortable position gives your back a chance to relax and provides relief from spasms.
Also, sitting at an incline angle in a reclining chair with the legs supported and knees slightly bent can make you feel better.
Over-The-Counter Pain Relievers
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medication (NSAID) can keep down the inflammation and pain caused by muscle spasms. Examples of over-the-counter NSAIDs include ibuprofen, naproxen, and aspirin. Acetaminophen is also effective, but many people report that it only addresses the pain and not the inflammation. It is essential to read and follow the labels on the medication bottles before using them or consult your healthcare provider if you have any preexisting health conditions.
Take Muscle Relaxants
Muscle relaxants deal with extreme spasms that are visible and prominent and cause considerable pain. It is best to consult your doctor regarding muscle relaxants and their dosage, as they can only be used for up to 72 hours.
Stretches to Relieve Back Spasms
Stretching can reduce muscle tension and stop spasms. Many people experiencing sudden spasms are afraid to move, but simply getting up and walking may help. Consult your doctor or physiotherapist to learn about simple stretches that you can do at home for lower back spasms. Follow-up care is a key part of treatment and safety. Stay in touch with your healthcare provider to avoid activities that lead to back spasms.
Rest for a Short Time
A painful back muscle spasm can make it tough for you to perform daily activities or even move easily. Pushing through the pain may lead to further injury and delay the healing process. Instead of pushing through the pain, give it rest for a short time. Stay at home for the day and take it easy. Avoid any painful movements, bending, or lifting anything that can cause further problems. Only move as much as you can easily, take short walks, and stay active without pushing yourself.
Walking is gentle on the back and promotes blood flow, which in turn, boosts the recovery process. Avoid walking on uneven land or down and uphill as it may intensify the pain and cause further spasms.
How to Stop Spasms?
There is no way to stop a muscle spasm. No pill or injection has proved effective for relieving spasms immediately. The best thing to do, to avoid painful spasms, is to stretch your affected muscle and massage it. Back spasms are more difficult to manage than spasms in the legs or other parts of the body.
Applying ice or heat is the most effective way to deal with the pain. You can only prevent a back spasm by living an active lifestyle that includes light exercises and avoiding awkward movements.
Who Gets Back Spasms?
Back spasms can occur at any time to anyone. Whether you are old, young, sedentary, or active, you may develop a spasm. It can happen while you are bending, sitting, performing an exercise, or even sleeping.
Some people are prone to spasms and get them despite any injury or physical exertion. Keep an eye on factors that seem to worsen the pain and avoid them. If your pain fails to subside, consult your healthcare provider for an accurate diagnosis of your condition as it may be a warning sign of some underlying medical issue.
Treating Back Spasms
Experiencing spasms at some point in your life is normal, but if you are experiencing back spasms regularly, it may be something that requires professional assistance. Recurring back spasms are often caused by strains, injuries, weak muscles, or degenerative diseases. Doctors can identify the underlying causes and recommend the best medications to help you seek relief. Follow-up care is a crucial part of treatment and staying healthy. Keep in touch with your healthcare provider to prevent any activities that cause these painful spasms.
A common myth about back pain is that you need to rest and avoid activity for a long time. Doctors do not recommend too much bed rest. If your back spasms are not resulting from some serious injury or you do not have any other symptoms like loss of bowel or bladder, weakness, weight loss, or fever, staying active as much as possible is the best way to keep yourself fit.
You don’t have to live with back spasms as there are ways to treat them. With a few steps, you can not only prevent them but also soothe them the best of ways. Consult experienced and board-certified physiotherapists and physicians at the Physical Therapist NYC to discuss your condition and learn how they can help to manage your condition. The award-winning therapists determine what is causing the back spasms and come up with the best recovery plans that combat the painful episodes and prevent further occurrences. You can look forward to getting back to a normal routine and enjoy better flexibility and mobility following the expert’s guidance.