What is a Back Spasm? We Answer Common Questions About Back Spasm Pain

What is a Back Spasm? We Answer Common Questions About Back Spasm Pain


April 29, 2021




Breaking Down Back Spasms: Your Questions Asked and Answered

Let’s dive into everything and anything related to back spasms; from where they come from to how you can manage the pain and discomfort. Continue reading to find answers to your questions and to discover at-home treatments that can help you manage back spasm pain — so you can get back to doing the things you love sooner.



What is a back spasm? What does a back spasm feel like?

Back spasms feel like a sudden, tense contraction or like an involuntary twitch in the back muscles. You may experience intermittent cramping with mild discomfort, or even severe pain that makes mobility and daily life difficult. This pain can also accompany already existing back pain anywhere in the back area.




What causes back spasms?


A variety of conditions may be related to back spasms. Some of the causes of back spasms include:

  • Acute injury in the muscles, tendons or ligaments surrounding the back area.
  • Repeat or sudden movements and heavy lifting.
  • Disease that affects the spinal discs or nerves in the back.
The source of your pain may be difficult to pinpoint on your own, see your preferred healthcare provider for assessment and diagnosis.


Why do I get back spasms?

Many factors can make one more prone to experiencing back spasms and back pain in general. Some of these risk factors are:
  • Age: Back pain is more common in those aged 30+.
  • Deconditioned muscles in the back and abdomen from a lack of physical activity.
  • Obesity: Excess weight puts added stress on the spine and back.
  • Nerve damage in the back area, often due to injury.
  • Smoking, stress and mental illness.



How can I find back spasm relief?

Now that you know more about back spasms, the next step towards feeling better is finding practical and effective ways to manage your pain. And while prescription medication, surgeries and procedures are often thought of as first choices for treating pain, you may be looking for an alternative method of pain relief for a variety of reasons.

Luckily, there’s a wide range of more natural, non-invasive ways to manage your own back pain and spasms, and this can be done from the comfort of your own home. Take a look at our recommendations for alternative methods of pain relief with an open mind, and find meaningful ways to manage back spasms!

3 Ways to find Back Spasm Relief



1. Hot & Cold Therapies for Back Spasms

Cold and hot therapies can be beneficial for back spasm sufferers for entirely different reasons. Learn more about both to personalize your pain management routine to your specific needs. You can also use both therapies interchangeably in the same routine.

Cold: Apply something cold to the affected area in the form of a cream, pad or ice pack to target the swelling, inflammation and sharp pain that can come from acute injury or new on-set pain (including spasms). Cold therapy works by reducing blood flow to the area and reducing nerve activity, helping to numb the sensations of pain.

Keep in mind...
  • You should never apply something frozen directly onto the skin.
  • Apply cold therapy for no more than 20 minutes at a time before taking a break to avoid skin, tissue and nerve damage.

Heat: Apply something warm to the affected area in the form of a cream, hot towel or heating pad, or visit a sauna or hot tub to manage your pain with heat therapy. Heat therapy targets soreness, stiffness, and stress, too! Conversely to cold therapy, a heat application can improve local circulation, promote tissue healing and improve muscle flexibility. Those dealing with back spasms may find that heat can help relax their tense muscles.

Keep in mind...
  • Heat therapy is not ideal for the treatment of swelling.
  • Burns can happen easily; test the temperature carefully before widespread application.

2. TENS Therapy for Back Spasms

TENS therapy (transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation) is delivered via a TENS device that conducts safe, gentle electrical stimulation through conductive, adhesive pads to pain-affected areas. A TENS device works to deliver these signals to the nervous system so that pain signals sent out by damaged nerves become drowned out and do not register in the brain.

TENS devices are also powered by EMS (electrical muscle stimulation) so that both the nervous system and pain-affected muscle tissues are targeted with gentle, yet powerful stimulation. EMS works in a TENS device to soothe sore, aching muscles and improve local circulation through repetitive expansion and contraction. Because TENS and EMS work together to target a wide variety of pain, a TENS device can be an effective, meaningful choice for temporarily relieving pain associated with muscle spasms.

When muscle spasms and pain strike, it’s important to have a device on hand that you can rely on for fast-acting, temporary relief — especially considering how intrusive and unexpected a flare-up of pain can be. While TENS can’t address the underlying condition causing muscle spasms, it can help back spasm sufferers get back to some of their normal activities, and feel more like themselves.

Find more information on TENS and product recommendations for back spasm relief:



3. Stretching and Yoga for Back Spasms

When you’re in pain, physical activity might be the last thing you want to do. As intimidating as it may be, continuing to move is important to avoid prolonged stiffness and to promote general physical health and wellbeing.

To make it easier to get on your feet and move around, we’ve broken up some physical activities into small steps you can take to incorporate more movement into your routine. By starting with light movement and slowly increasing the intensity, you may be able to prevent injury and strain and work towards strengthening the back muscles in order to prevent future back spasms.

Step 1, Gentle Movement: Getting back into physical activity after pain strikes should start with gentle movements including walking and light stretching. Avoid any twisting, bending or sudden movements when in pain.

Step 2, Yoga for Back Spasms: Once you’re comfortable with gentle movement, try yoga poses that specifically target the back area.

  • Cat-cow pose: While on all fours, take a deep breath and arch your back, extending your head up and back. On the inhale, round out your spine and point your head downwards. Repeat to stretch the spine.
  • Child’s pose: From a kneeling position, reach your hands upwards and begin to fold your torso forward until your palms are flat on the ground and your chest reaches your knees. Pull your arms forward to feel the stretch.
  • Downward dog: From all fours with your hands below your shoulders and knees below your hips, press firmly into the ground, tuck the toes and pull the knees and pelvis upwards and back, towards the ceiling. Straighten your legs and lean into the back stretch.
Step 3, Use tools to enhance your stretch: When you’re ready to target the back area with more intense pressure, try using a foam roller or acupressure mat to achieve a deep, relieving stretch. Simply lay over an acupressure mat that’s situated on the floor or roll over your most pain-affected areas with a foam roller or ball that digs into the tissues.



Manage back spasm pain on your own terms.

We hope that you come away from this with valuable information that helps you create a pain management routine that you feel confident in. Find what works best for you and start feeling more like yourself again!



Learn More about Back Pain on the DR-HO'S Blog!

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How DR-HO’S Triple Action Back Belt Outperforms Other Back Support Belts
Mckenzie Back Exercises: A Video Breakdown for Back Pain Sufferers
Poor Posture & Back Pain: X Ways to Find Lower Back Support & Pain Relief
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Back Decompression Therapy: What is It | How it Works | Can it Help Back Pain
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Muscle Spasms in the Lower Back: Know the Causes & How to Find Relief