Almost everyone experiences back pain at some point in their lives. And lower back pain is very common. In fact, about 8 out of 10 of us will have lower back pain in our lifetime, according to the National Institutes of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. But what are back spasms, what causes them, and what can you do when you experience one?
What Signs Should I Look for That Can Indicate a Back Spasm?
If you’ve ever felt that your muscles in your lower back are tight or contracting, had a dull ache in your back when you moved, or a sharp pain in a specific area of your back, you likely experienced a muscle spasm. Lower back spasms can range from being mildly bothersome to intensely painful.
While some people feel a muscle spasm in a concentrated area of their backs, others find that their discomfort radiates to other nearby areas, including their hips or legs.
Specific symptoms signaling you could be having a back spasm include:
Tension and tightness in your lower back
Intermittent cramping in your lower back
Intense pain in the lower back that comes on suddenly
Lower back muscle weakness
Difficulty moving after picking up an object or bending over
Tightness in the back after standing, sitting, or driving for extended periods.
What Can Cause a Back Spasm?
There are a number of potential causes of lower back spasms, including the below.
Overuse: If you’ve overused your lower back muscles, especially if you haven’t used it extensively for a while, it can trigger a muscle spasm.
Poor posture: Particularly when driving in a car, sitting at a desk, or hunched over a computer, poor posture can strain your back muscles, leading to developing a lower back spasm. If you alter your posture to deal with a muscle spasm, you can potentially worsen your discomfort. People who have certain conditions, like spinal stenosis, fibromyalgia, degenerative disc disease, or arthritis, may also adjust their posture to compensate for the symptoms of their conditions, leading to muscle spasms.
Limited exercise: If you have a sedentary lifestyle and are not getting enough exercise, your back muscles can weaken. As your lower back muscles compensate for this weakness, you can experience muscle spasms. Here is a guide for at-home exercises.
Damaged nerves: Nerve damage resulting from injury or diabetes, can signal lower back spasm.
Anxiety and stress: If you unconsciously tense your muscles when undergoing stress or anxiety, it can trigger a muscle spasm.
Scoliosis: This condition involves a twisting of the spine, which can worsen lower back spasms.
What Can I Do When I Experience a Lower Back Spasm?
Your lower back spasm treatment usually depends on the cause. Depending on the origin of your lower back spasm, your doctor may recommend you do one or more of the following treatments: