The lower back typically goes into spasm as a protective mechanism against further pain or damage to the lower back. Similar to a swollen ankle, where the area swells as inflammatory cells rush to the injured joint to commence the bodies natural healing process, and to form a brace to prevent any movement at the ankle joint.
Pain present in any area of the body is there for a specific reason, as a warning signal that something is not right and as a protective mechanism to prevent further damage. In a day and age of popping pills for our ills, this very basic premise is often forgotten or completely overlooked. Instead of listening to what the pain signals are trying to tell us, we are told to take mind altering drugs to provide pain relief so we can continue on with daily function.
A lower back spasm is so painful due to the complexity involved in forming a protective brace in order to prevent further movement that may place intervertebral structures at risk of damage.
An involuntary message is sent from the brain to contract or (spasm) the muscles that erect and support the spine.
If the back and the muscles that support the back are fatigued to the point where the back is compromised, a message from the brain sends the supporting muscles into a deep seated spasm to ensure the person rests until the muscles are able to carry out their function again.
Another cause of lower back spasm is if there is damage to the lower back structures, such as intervertebral discs, joints, muscles. As in the event of muscular fatigue, the brain will send the muscles that support the lower back into a deep spasm to ensure complete rest as the body begins to heal.
A painful ankle can be supported, leg rested on a chair. A lower back spasm, is not so simple.
The main reason why a lower back spasm is perceived to be so painful is because it is so debilitating, there are very minimal body movements that do not require the lower back to assist. Every tiny movement, or attempt to find a comfortable position sends a severe stabbing pain to the lower back.
Attempts to provide pain relief such as strong pain killing medication, heat or ice, even treatment from the physio are most commonly futile as the strong message from the brain holds the lower back region in complete ‘protect and brace’ mode.
If you are suffering from a sever lower back spasm, please seek advice from your local health care practitioner. Do not be alarmed at the severity of the pain, it is not an indication of how much damage that has occurred, or the length of time it will take to settle down. Listen to your body, support yourself with pillows in the most comfortable (or least painful) position.
The majority of lower back spasms brought on from over fatigued muscles ease after 1-3 days. In cases where there is damage to the joints or intervertebral discs, spasms can last longer than the 3 days, commonly up to a few weeks as the body requires a greater length of time to settle and heal the area.