Causes of Back Spasms

The pain of a back spasm is unforgettable. If you have experienced the sharp and excruciatingly sudden pain of a muscle spasm, you know that it is a feeling that should be avoided at all costs. The best way to curb the chance that you could find yourself in that situation is to truly understand the causes of muscle spasms and avoid making those mistakes. Normal voluntary muscle contraction occurs when electric signals are sent from the brain along the spinal cord via motor neurons. These motor neurons release chemicals at the muscle, which stimulate stores of calcium ions within the muscle cells. This exchange allows proteins to slide past each other, facilitating muscle contraction and flexing. Spasms happen when there is an interruption in any stage of this process. Muscle membrane could be sensitive and contract too easily. Calcium ions may not be produced rapidly enough, causing contraction without stimulation. Generally, spasms can fit into two separate categories: a reoccurring strain, or a traumatic injury.

Reoccurring Strain

Reoccurring strains can be something as small as sitting with improper posture at your desk. Years of typing on a keyboard incorrectly or an athlete with bad form can manifest in unpredictable ways- including a muscle spasm. Repetitive strains are muscles that are irritated over a long period of time, before a small movement triggers a spasm. The simple act of picking a small item from the floor or reaching for the telephone could trigger a major spasm. The muscles could potentially tear, and the muscles surrounding the area will automatically stiffen to protect the muscles from any further harm. Spasms of this sort can have a lengthy healing process, lasting anywhere from two to six weeks depending on the patient’s lifestyle. Once the muscles tear, scar tissue forms, which facilitates adhesion to repair the tissue. Scar tissue can form for up to a year in some severe cases. Ultimately, the most immediate remedy is to alternately ice and heat the muscle, to aid in the loosening of the muscle and ultimately lessening the pain and minimizing inflammation. Scar tissue will eventually need to break down to aid the muscle in regaining the flexibility it had prior to the spasm. Exercise can initially be too strenuous, so many people recommend deep tissue massages and chiropractic care to recuperate the muscles.

Traumatic Injury

A traumatic injury is a spontaneous event that occurs that injures, twists, and strains your muscles. The most common type of traumatic occurrence that leads to a back spasm is the lifting of heavy objects. If you lift a heavy object improperly, you can injure the muscles in your back. If you twist while lifting a heavy object, you may tear the muscles in your lower back. This can also happen when pushing or pulling a heavy object. Fatigued or dehydrated muscles are more susceptible to strain and tear when put under stress. Avoid exercising in extreme heat to prevent heat cramps. Taking a warm bath to improve circulation may be helpful before strenuous activity.

Filed Under: Back Pain
Written By:  Updated:
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Jesse Cannone, CFT, CPRS, MFT

Jesse is the co-founder and visionary CEO of The Healthy Back Institute®, the world-leading source of natural back pain solutions. His mission as a former back pain sufferer is to help others live pain free without surgery and pharmaceuticals.

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