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What Causes Back Spasms: Symptoms and Treatment Options

back pain

What Causes Back Spasms: Symptoms and Treatment Options

Is your back holding you back? When pain or spasms immobilize you, trust our spine specialists to help!

A strong and healthy back and spinal cord offer more than a pain-free life. They provide a sturdy frame for your body and shoulders, contribute to your best posture, and allow you to move swiftly with a wide range of mobility. Unfortunately, back spasms can put a quick end to this comfort if you’re not careful, so consider seeing a New York Spine Specialist for top doctors and state-of-the-art facilities in spinal care when they occur. 

Our New York professionals include surgeons, physicians, and physician assistants who use interventional treatments to target minor and more complex neck and back issues. To start relieving symptoms now, ask us about our treatment programs and what we can do to help. 

What Do Back Spasms Feel Like?

For most people, back spasms occur randomly, feeling like a minor twitch or muscle jerk. To others, they feel more prominent with muscles seizing or contracting, but they usually build to severe pain in both cases. 

While these symptoms occur in the intrinsic, superficial, and intermediate muscles in the upper and middle back sections, lower back spasms are more frequent, especially since about 80% of all US citizens tend to have lower back pain at some point, according to the Cleveland Clinic. 

Other Symptoms of Back Spasms

Symptoms differ between individuals, depending on their health history and current back health. For instance, someone with fibromyalgia may experience more pain than someone in optimal health, but aches and pains aren’t the only symptoms of spasms. You may also note the following:

  • A tight knot in the spot the spasm occurred or tightness radiating throughout the body, preventing movement like bending or reaching
  • Weakness or no feeling whatsoever in the limbs 
  • On-and-off cramping in the back or other parts of the body after a spasm
  • Disorientation that contributes to loss of coordination and balance
  • Uncontrollable bladder and bowel movements  

What Causes Back Spasms?

Spasms are common among active people who strain their back, neck, or spinal cord, like athletes in high-contact sports and weightlifters. That’s because they place excessive force on their muscles or work out incorrectly, using the wrong body parts, which causes inflammation and tears. 

However, something as simple as having poor sitting, standing, or sleeping posture or experiencing prior back pain or injuries could spark this discomfort, especially if you live a sedentary lifestyle. According to Medical News Today, about 25% of adults do not work their muscles enough, causing the muscles to weaken over time, paving the way for spasms and other ailments. 

While some back pain ceases with a chiropractic adjustment or physical therapy, the bulleted symptoms above could point to a deeper issue, like an epidural abscess or stiff person syndrome. If you’re wondering what causes back spasms, check with your healthcare physician to determine if gallstones, kidney infections, or a tumor are causing a more serious or repetitive spasm episode.

Muscle spasms are also evident in those with:

  • Dietary deficiencies like having low calcium or potassium diets or not drinking enough water
  • Previous physical trauma from sports, falls, and other accidents
  • Mental and emotional trauma, like constant stress and anxiety that take a toll on the body 

How To Stop Back Spasms 

If an accident has left your lower back with a stiff or painful knot, alternate between ice and heat packs for relief since ice helps with inflammation and heat increases blood circulation for healing. Also, back stretches like a seated spinal twist, cat-cow, cobra pose, or child’s pose all relieve stress while strengthening the spine. Finally, try a massage or physical therapy to reduce the abrasive factor. 

A spasm usually subsides within a few days but may take multiple weeks to loosen if a muscle strain causes stiffness and low mobility. Still, we suggest you see a specialist when you notice any spasm symptoms, particularly if they’re occurring frequently, aren’t going away, or the pain is life-halting. 

While back spasms sometimes indicate a deeper health issue like ankylosing spondylitis, they may not be spasms but a different issue altogether. It takes a professional to decipher between spasm symptoms and signs of spinal stenosis, a herniated disk, scoliosis, or spinal arthritis. Whether you’ve had a spasm or something that feels like one, trust our team to assist.

The Only Specialists in the Area To Fight Back Like a New Yorker

Learning how to stop back spasms or heal your current condition are just a few necessary steps to living your best life pain-free. Our team of experts at New York Spine Specialist has a rich history of relieving ailments and keeping them away. For an accurate diagnosis and world-class service, call 516-355-0111 to book an appointment and start feeling better sooner.

Our doctors accept most forms of insurance, including workers’ compensation, no-fault, and PIP (personal injury protection) plans. Same-day appointments may be available.

Don’t confuse sciatica with traditional back spasms. Contact us to decipher the cause of your concerns and get help relieving sciatica pain.

FAQs About Back Spasms

How do doctors diagnose a back spasm?

A specialist will ask you questions about the frequency and longevity of the episodes, along with the symptoms and their locations. After better understanding your situation, they’ll diagnose your condition. If you’re suffering from a spasm, they’ll explain how to apply ice and heat packs, prescribe over-the-counter pain medication or muscle relaxants, or suggest physical therapy. 

Are back spasms preventable?

Yes, while spasms are sometimes inevitable, most back pain issues are non-organic, according to Hands Down Better, meaning they don’t evolve from deep-rooted health issues. You can prevent your chances of a spasm by practicing good posture and stress management while stretching or exercising regularly. 

Do spasms cause pain elsewhere in the body?

Unfortunately, spasms can cause back pain to radiate throughout the body and into the hips, arms, and legs. You should seek assistance if chest pains occur.