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Back spasms

A back spasm is a sudden and involuntary contraction or uncontrollable tightening of the muscles due to overuse, strain, weakness or pain in the muscle. Spasms near the spinal cord or near the roots of the nerve places pressure on one of the sensitive nerves and causes severe pain.

Muscle spasm happens when exerting plenty of energy or straining such as performing heavy lifting, working out or performing a strenuous sports activity. Dehydration can also cause muscle spasm at the back due to low potassium or calcium level in the body.

Some spasms can be caused by disorders or irritation of a nerve that is attached to that muscle such as a herniated disc that can sometimes press on the spinal nerves and result to spasms and pain. As for spinal stenosis, there is compression of the spinal cord causing narrowing of the spinal canal or the openings where the nerves extend away from the spinal column.

Symptoms

Musculoskeletal

  • Curvature of the spine
    Back spasms

    Arm or shoulder pain and numbness or tingling sensation in one leg or buttock.

  • Hip or buttock pain
  • Back ache
  • A feeling of the foot slapping the ground due to leg weakness or “foot drop”
  • Stiffness in the spine
  • Stiffness of the neck and pain
  • Arm or shoulder pain and numbness or tingling sensation in one leg or buttock

Neurologic

  • Problems with the nerve that cause numbness, pain and tingling sensation in the arm
  • Headache especially in the back of the head
  • Shooting pain that spreads on all areas of the back of one leg or sciatica

Serious symptoms

  • An abnormal sensation, numbness or weakness can be felt on one side of the body.
  • Loss of bladder or bowel control and loss of sensation in one or both the limbs
  • Impaired balance and coordination
  • Weakness of muscles in the arms or legs

Causes

  • Dehydration
  • Weak or tight muscles of the back
  • Weak muscles of the stomach
  • Tight tendons that are found at the back of the legs or the hamstrings
  • Arthritis in the spine
  • Spinal stenosis and spondylosis

Treatments

  • Take plenty of rest to promote fast recovery
  • The best way to help prevent stiffness and tightening of the back is to encourage the individual to take a walk slowly and gently for a few minutes for several times every day.
  • Maintain the back in an elevated position to help lessen the back spasms. Rest the legs on a pillow while in the seated position. Keep the knees above the hips. While lying down, it should be done on the side with the knees bending at a 90-degree angle.
  • Apply an ice pack in order to help minimize the swelling and pain due to the spasms. Wrap the ice pack or bag of frozen vegetables in a towel and place it on the affected back for at least 12-15 minutes every 2 hours for the first day or two. After the ice, heat can be used to dilate the vessels of blood and for proper circulation of blood in the area.
  • Take the prescribed pain medications such as aspirin or ibuprofen in order to help lessen the pain and aches.

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