A muscle spasm is an overriding protection mechanism that typically occurs when a muscle or muscle groups are overused, tired and fatigued. More relevant to athletes than back sufferers, when a muscle such as the hamstring becomes over stretched, a strong contraction (spasm) occurs to prevent tearing of muscle fibres.
In the case of a back muscle spasm, the clear message is that the muscles of the back are tired and fatigued. Typically a back spasm will take 1-3 days to settle (usually the amount of time required for the muscles to rest and recover).
It is imperative that we break this article into two different important categories;
Both have clearly significant messages with differing action required.
If you have carried out a specific activity for the first time in a while such as a full day working in the garden at the start of spring, then due to the lack of conditioning your back muscles can over fatigue leaving you with a painful spasm for a few days.
Similar with exercise, if you are getting back into a running or gym routine, it is not uncommon to over do it early on resulting in paying the price with a few days lay off until your back settles.
Regardless of the activity if your body is not conditioned and you end up with a back spasm, regardless of how painful it is, do not fear the worst. Don't try and fight the spasm, give yourself the ample rest that your body requires, apply heat to ease the discomfort and seek some massage therapy or physio as the pain starts to ease.
Any muscle spasm can be extremely painful, however especially back muscle spasms. The muscles of the back are extremely broad meaning that pain will spread across most of your back and even into your hips. Almost all human movement requires the use of your back muscles which adds to both the discomfort and frustration whilst suffering from a back spasm.
If however you have experienced a severe back spasm for the first time after an innocuous event, an activity or movement that you have done countless time before without any concern the message here is very different. For many back pain sufferers, after experiencing an initial back spasm, they find themselves experiencing them over and over again.
The important message that your body is trying to tell you is that your back is lacking support. Too great a load is being placed on your back due to the muscles integral to supporting your back being weak and non functional.
For many back pain sufferers their back spasms become more and more frequent due to the fact that after their initial painful spasms, they protect their back in a way that further weakens the muscles integral to its support. The pattern continues for years on end:
It is important to note that if you are suffering from regular ongoing back muscles you need to address the root underlying cause of why your back went into spasm in the first place. The muscles are getting over tired and fatigued as a result of carrying too great a load due to weakened postural muscles.
Seek a competent professional who can assess your postural symmetry. Identify the areas that require strengthening, and can put an effective rehabilitation plan in place to end your ongoing and chronic back spasm cycle.