Pretty much everybody will experience a muscle cramp or spasm at one time or another. Muscle spasms happen when muscles contract and cannot relax. While every muscle can experience a cramp, back muscle spasms are amongst the most painful.
Despite being very painful, at times, muscle spasms will relax after a few seconds or minutes. It is not uncommon for a person to experience a repetition of muscle cramps through the course of a day or over several days.
Back Muscle Spasms: Causes and Treatment
The most common cause of muscle cramps is injury of the muscles or the bone to which the muscles are attached. In the case of muscle spasm in back, an injury to the spine will cause back muscles to contract as they try to provide more support to the injured bone area. Similarly, when the muscles, themselves, are injured, they will spasm or contract in order to protect themselves.
Some medication can also cause muscle cramps. This usually happens when the medication affects the composition of body salts that help muscles to function well resulting in muscle spasms. Dehydration can be a major precursor to cramping or spasms.
Commonly, muscle spasms happen simply because the muscles have been overworked. Athletes, for example, get frequent muscles cramps at the beginning of the season because their bodies are not yet used to exercising.
Treating Back Spasms
Although a muscle cramp can go away within a short time, it is possible to get the muscles to relax even faster. The most common way of treating a muscle spasm is to gently stretch the limb as soon as the spasm happens. In the case of the lower back, bending over and waiting for the muscles to relax will help. Muscle spasms in the back tend to be on one side when they attack the upper back. As such, the best way to deal with them is to stretch the arm and shoulder and hold the stretching position until the muscles relax. There are also self-massage tools that can aid with spasm relief.
You should also know that there are several products on the market such as liniment oils and Icy Hot which you can apply to the affected area. You should know that these are pretty potent and should not be exposed to areas with mucous, in or around the eyes, or any other sensitive areas. Make certain not to touch your face or any other objects before cleaning up if at all possible, and make sure to towel off completely.
Dealing with the Causes of the Spasm
Continued cramps or back muscles pain may mean that your back muscles have been strained or torn. In that case, the best thing to do is to start treating the muscles, immediately. Applying ice to the injured area will help relax the muscles. Make sure that the ice does not remain on the injured area for more than 15 minutes. This action has to be repeated every hour for the first 2 days while the back is being rested. For frequent muscle spasms in back, try to lie on a solid, flat surface like the floor, whenever you are resting. See a doctor if the pain continues.
Spasms that occur while one is on medication may mean that the medication may be causing the spasm. You should discontinue use immediately, and see your doctor immediately to have the medication changed or the dosages lowered if at all possible.
Warming up as well as stretching before and after exercising will also help in reducing muscle spasms in athletes. Stretching doesn’t take very long at all and just a couple minutes of preventative stretching can mean the difference between getting cramps and spasms and not. It also helps to remain hydrated throughout the day, so make sure that you’re keeping up on your water and liquid intakes. This is especially critical before, during, and after any and all exercise. There are plenty of less strenuous physical activities you can do such as Yoga with breathing exercises.
Avoid lifting heavy weights. Nurses and other caregivers, for example, are advised against pulling patients up from their beds as doing so usually results in back injury for the caregiver. Apply the same principle at home – and everywhere. Do not try to pull people up or lift heavy weights. Use appropriate help or machinery. If no help can be readily found, make sure you use the proper form for lifting – but only lift as a last resort. Even minor weight shifts or activity can aggravate your back muscle spasms and cramping.
In conclusion, remember that you can prevent back muscle spasms by avoiding causing injury to your back muscles and watching your medication and the way you do your exercises. Always stay hydrated, make certain that you stretch frequently and correctly, and avoid doing any further damage to your back by waiting until you’re fully healed. The back is one of the most important collection of muscles in your entire body, and keeping it healthy is the key to a long and pain free life.