Learn how physical therapy can help you recover from a back spasm.

Our low back is the center of our bodies movements and carries a large portion of our weight. So it comes as no surprise that lower back pain is a common ailment. The condition can range from mildly uncomfortable to very painful, and the pain can be either acute (sudden and sharp) or chronic (lasting and persistent.)

If you’re experiencing pain, stiffness, muscle spasms, or decreased movement in the lower back, you may be suffering from a back spasm. Read on to learn more about the condition and how an MTS physical therapist can help you recover quickly by providing a specialized program specific to your needs.

What is a Back Spasm?

A back spasm is an injury to the lower back usually caused by exerting an extreme amount of physical effort, falling down, bending over, or lifting heavy objects. It can also be caused by emotional stress, being overweight and/or out of shape, having bad posture or even a severe cough.

Back Spasms result from injury to the tissues near and around the spine. These injuries can be classified as either a back strain or a back sprain and often occur together. Though the causes, symptoms and treatments of a back strain  and sprain are often the same, the conditions are actually different. A strain occurs when a muscle or tendon (the tissue that connects muscles to bones) gets twisted, pulled, or torn. A sprain occurs when a ligament (the tissue that connects bones together at a joint) gets stretched or torn. Both of these injuries cause your spine to become less stable, resulting in lower back pain and back spasm.

Symptoms of Back Spasm

If you’re suffering from one or more of the following symptoms, you most likely have a back spasm:

  • Pain or stiffness in lower back
  • Pain in buttocks
  • Muscle cramping or spasms (sudden involuntary movements of muscle)
  • Lesser range of motion and/or function

How to Treat a Back Spasm

Treatment for a back spasm usually comes in two phases:

Phase One: Limit your activity for one to three days, icing your back and taking over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medication to help reduce pain. This period of rest should be as short as possible and only to overcome the initial severe pain. If you stay in bed too long, your muscles may weaken and stiffness may increase.

Phase Two: Resume normal activity. Apply heat as needed after swelling has gone down (you can use a heating pad or simply take a hot bath.) Most importantly, seek out a physical therapist who is trained specifically to assess your situation and create a recovery plan that’s catered to your condition. He or she may use a combination of soft tissue mobilization (therapeutic massage), joint mobilization, stretching, modalities (ice/heat therapy, ultrasound, electrical muscle stimulation) and most importantly a progressive strengthening program to help you heal your low back and limit the chances of recurring pain.

Preventing a Back Spasm

There are several things you can do in order to prevent back spasms and lower back pain, including:

  • Perform abdominal strengthening exercises like crunches to work on spine stability.
  • Perform gluteal strengthening exercises like bridges to work on hip strength.
  • Participate in aerobic exercise that does not increase your low back pain. (examples: swimming, biking, and walking)
  • If your back feels strained during a certain activity, stop and rest.
  • Avoid sleeping on your stomach.
  • When lifting, bend at the hips and knees, not the waist.
  • Maintain a healthy weight.
  • Maintain good posture while sitting and standing.
  • Avoid stress as much as possible as it can cause muscle tension.

If you are having back pain and spasm, contact MTS today to explore your treatment options! 949.529.1567

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