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Muscle Spasm and Back Pain: What You Need to Know

Muscle Spasm and Back Pain

A muscle spasm can happen after exercise, but what does it mean if a muscle spasm happens for no reason? While muscle spasms are common, spasms that are very frequent or those that cause back pain might offer insight into the state of your health. Often, home remedies can help soothe your muscle pain and back spasms, but other times, it might be better to try physical therapy.

But what causes back spasms in the first place? What are the symptoms? Is there anything you can do to prevent them?

If you’re asking these questions, this is the article you need to find all your answers. To start off, let’s take a closer look at what a muscle spasm is and why it might happen.

What Is a Muscle Spasm?

Almost everyone has had a muscle spasm at least once in their lives. Spasms may sometimes be referred to as muscle cramps and involve painful and involuntary contractions of the muscle. Most of the time, it is impossible to predict when or where a muscle spasm might happen.

A muscle spasm can occur wherever there are muscles. However, they tend to be more common once certain muscles become exhausted such as after exercising. A muscle spasm may affect all of a muscle or only certain fibers of a muscle.

Spasms are more common in areas that move frequently such as the legs and arms. For some, muscle spasms may be only mildly uncomfortable while for others, the pain can be severe. If the spasm is severe, you might be able to see the muscle contracting or twitching under your skin.

The duration of a spasm can vary. They can last from a few seconds to 15 minutes or more. When spasms last for a long time, they may subside and then return multiple times.

While muscle spasms are painful and frustrating, they are usually not any cause for concern. But what causes muscle spasms to happen in the first place?

The Causes of Muscle Spasms

Muscle spasms have a wide range of causes. Often, they happen if they don’t warm up your muscles before exercising. For example, if you don’t stretch and massage your muscles before going for a jog, especially if you haven’t jogged in some time, you might be at a higher risk of developing muscle spasms.

This is because of how your muscle might become exhausted, meaning that your muscle doesn’t have the oxygen it needs to function. Instead, exhausted muscles secrete lactic acid which can make your muscles sore or cause spasms. If you warm up your muscles beforehand, they will have a better supply of blood and therefore a better supply of oxygen which will usually prevent cramps or spasms from happening in the first place.

Does upper back pain or lower back pain caused by spasms differ? Back muscles are used just as frequently as your leg muscles, if not more since they are necessary to hold up your body when standing or sitting upright. Back muscles may be especially engaged when doing heavy lifting or playing sports such as football or golf.

If you are not accustomed to these activities, your back muscles could easily become exhausted and muscle spasms may occur. In certain cases, back spasms may not have much to do with exhausted muscles. Instead, they may have to do with an injury to your back muscles, tendons, or your spine.

For example, people with herniated disks or arthritis in the spine may more commonly experience muscle spasms even when resting. Often, these spinal injuries can cause more pain throughout the body due to how the spinal nerves radiate throughout the body.

So, now that you know about the causes of muscle spasms, what can you do about them?

How to Treat Muscle Spasms

The best treatment for muscle spasms is to prevent them before they happen. By stretching and improving blood flow to your muscles, you can reduce your chances of getting muscle spasms. However, what should you do once you already have a muscle spasm on your hands?

The best treatment is to try massaging the area. This will increase the blood flow in the area and deliver more oxygen to your muscles. Once your muscles have the oxygen they need, they will begin to relax and stop contracting.

If massaging the area doesn’t help, try applying a cold or hot pack to soothe the muscles and reduce the pain. You could also try taking over-the-counter painkillers to soothe the pain as well.

However, what if your spasms are caused by back problems as discussed previously? Since these spasms are usually different than muscle spasms caused by exercise, the treatments are different as well. In the case of severe back spasms, it might be beneficial to try physical therapy.

Physical therapists can help in many different ways to help treat pain in your body. They can help by showing you ways to stretch and move your body to keep yourself limber and to reduce discomfort. They can be especially helpful if you are not very mobile due to a medical condition.

They prioritize movement of the body since movement is very important for keeping the blood flowing and keeping the body healthy overall. A physical therapist might also be able to find the root of your back pain and help to reduce the frequency or intensity of your pain.

Physical Therapy for Back Pain and Muscle Spasms

By the end of this article, you should see how muscle spasms can happen and how they can connect with back pain. You should also see how physical therapy might be a great idea for those who suffer from back spasms.

If you think physical therapy sounds like a good idea for you, contact us to book a free evaluation.