A back spasm is a sudden, painful muscle contraction in the back near the spine. It often occurs while lifting, pushing, or pulling a heavy object or performing some other action that would strain the back. The patient’s pain often increases within the next two or three hours after the injury, and any movement of the back usually causes severe pain. Sitting, standing and bending usually cause the patient great pain, and for many lying on one side in a fetal position offers the only relief from pain.
Spasms are more likely to occur if the muscle is already swollen or strained. If force is added, previously damaged muscles and tendons can tear. Any sport or job that requires twisting, pushing or pulling can cause a back spasm. Those with a weakened back from conditions like spondylolysis, spondylolisthesis, disc rupture, spinal stenosis, arthritis, are more likely to have back spasms. Similarly those with anterior pelvic tilt, tight hamstrings, weak muscles along the spine or in the abdomen are also more likely to suffer from back spasms.
The patient should rest as much as possible and treat the site of the injury with ice and compression. Muscle relaxants and anti-inflammatory medication and sometimes even local anesthetic injections can be used to treat the injury during first few days after the injury. Four or five days after injury, these treatments can be supplemented with massage or chiropractic care. As the severe pain of the injury begins to clear, the cause of the injury should be determined by the physician so that further treatment, such as strength training, physical therapy, or even in rare cases surgery, can be considered, depending on the reason behind the muscle spasm.