A muscle spasm is an annoying problem that can occur in any muscle group. When spasms occur in the lower back, the contraction of muscles can feel uncomfortable and may cause pain for some individuals. Getting rid of the spasms is designed to help with more than just the current discomfort. It is also helpful in back pain prevention because the spasms can sometimes develop into painful conditions.
Problems that May Develop from Spasms
Although back spasms are not necessarily problematic at the beginning, it can develop into more serious problems if it persists for a long period of time. In some cases, cramps and pulled muscles might develop as a result of the spasms. Low back pain that develops from the spasms may fade or get worse over time, depending on the spasms and the severity of the problem.
Depending on the location within the back, spasms might cause compression or pressure to the sciatic nerve. Sciatica spasms are often painful due to the inflammation that develops when the nerve is compressed. In severe cases, sciatica spasms will result in making it hard to walk or move. When individuals can’t walk or can’t move, it is usually best to seek medical attention because of the severity of the pain.
Although pain can develop from spasms, in most cases the spasms are annoying contractions that respond to home remedies and natural treatments.
Giving the Back Rest
When spasms develop in the lower back, the best solution is to give the muscles a break by resting. Sit or lie down in a quiet location.
The muscles of the back support the human body. When the muscles in the lower back spasm, it can sometimes just mean that the muscles are overworked. Common causes of muscle spasms include:
- Overworked or tired muscles
- Staying in the same position for an extended period of time without moving
- Stretching the muscles too far
- Lack of balanced electrolytes
- Past injuries to the back
- Chronic diseases
The muscles in the back are subject to stress and strain throughout the day. In some cases, the overworked muscles will spasm as a result of that strain. By taking time to rest, the spasms may fade. If the spasms get worse, then additional home remedies are necessary to reduce the risk that the muscle contractions will cause injuries and pain.
Cool the Muscles
Overworked muscles may respond to ice packs or other cooling strategies. Putting ice on the muscles will cause the muscles to shrink and tighten, which effectively helps stop the energy that causes the spasm.
Put ice on the muscles for 20 minutes and then let them warm back up. If the spasms return, then repeat the process. Cooling the muscles helps slow down the energy and stops the movement from occurring. It can provide relief for some individuals, but may not work in every situation.
Warm the Muscles
When cold packs do not work, heat may be the right solution. Unlike cold, which stops the energy by causing the muscles to shrink down, heat does the opposite. It causes the muscles to stretch out and expand. In some cases, heat will have the same impact as cold on stopping the spasms from occurring, but it will not cause shivering and may help prevent back pain from developing when the muscles are at risk of being pulled.
Warm muscles are able to relax, which is the perfect solution when the cause of the spasm is directly related to overworked and tense muscles.
Treat the Problem with Hydration
Since dehydration and poor electrolyte balance can contribute to muscles spasms in lower back regions, drinking more water than usual and working on rehydrating the body may help. Eating bananas or drinking sports drinks that contain electrolytes can help when the problem is related to the balance of electrolytes in the system.
While hydration is a key part of getting the spasms to stop, it may take a little time before it works. Hydration will only work if the problem is associated with the lack of water in the system.
Exercise and Stretch
Although some cases of lower back spasms relate to overworked muscles, poor circulation and health conditions can contribute to the problem. Lack of movement is another factor that can make it easier to develop spasms in the lower back, particularly if a job encourages poor posture and long periods of sitting in the same position.
Exercise may be useful if the situation relates to lack of movement. Use gentle exercises to avoid straining the muscles, such as walking on a treadmill or going up and down a flight of stairs. Even though the movements are gentle and do not strain the body, it can have a profound impact on the strength of the lower back and the spasms. If cramping develops, then stop exercise briefly and stretch out the muscles.
When the problem is not related to lack of movement, exercise is not the best strategy to prevent spasms from developing. Stretches are useful, regardless of the underlying cause of the problem. The best stretches will vary slightly based on the specific location of the spasms and the amount of pain that develops, but in general basic stretches for the back are appropriate.
Using yoga stretches, particularly gentle stretches like child’s pose, are simple ways to help improve overall flexibility, posture and strength in the back. It also helps pull the muscles into the appropriate position, which can help stop the spasms from persisting.
Take Pain Medication
When pain develops from cramping or inflammation, the best treatment is a simple anti-inflammatory pain reliever. An over-the-counter medication can treat the inflammation that causes pain, which helps reduce the discomfort.
The best medications will depend on the level of pain, but should focus on reducing inflammation. Since it will also thin the blood, the medications are also useful when circulation is directly associated with the pain and discomfort.
Go to a Doctor
When home remedies do not work and the spasms persist, the final treatment is seeking medical attention. In general, medical attention is only necessary if the spasms persist for more than three days, the pain is severe or numbness travels down the lower back and legs. If the spasms stop after one day, then medical attention may not be necessary.
Spasms in the lower back are a problem that can cause other health concerns to arise. Fortunately, it is also easy to treat and usually does not relate to severe health conditions or serious back problems. By treating the spasm immediately, it is possible to prevent back pain from developing.