A back spasm is a common muscle problem that one can experience when waking up and getting out of bed, lifting something heavy, or after a sudden or jerky movement. These types of spasms usually strike without warning.
The spasm occurs due to an abnormal contraction of the muscle that takes hold and does not relax. Factors that can contribute to such spasms include obesity, poor posture, structural imbalance in the body, dehydration, electrolyte loss and poor sleeping positions.
Occasionally, back spasms can be a sign of a spinal injury or other illness that require medical attention.
When it comes to common back spasms, treatment should start as soon as possible or the pain can become unbearable and severely affect your daily activities. In fact, muscle spasms are one of the most common causes of back pain.
Spasms in the back can be easily treated with home remedies and other popular techniques.
Note: If the pain is consistent and gets more severe with movement, consult your doctor immediately.
Here are the top 10 ways to get rid of back spasms.
As soon as you feel a back spasm, immediately stop what you are doing and rest. Continuing to move will worsen the pain and can lead to a serious muscle injury.
Carefully and slowly get to a bed or a comfortable flat surface to sit or lay down and remain temporarily immobile. If needed, use cushions and pillows for support and do deep breathing to stay calm. You can also keep your legs elevated with pillows to take pressure off the spine, which may help relieve pain.
By remaining immobile for some time, you prevent triggering the injured muscles. This in turn can reduce both the intensity and duration of the pain.
It is advised to rest for 1 to 2 days. Complete bed rest is not necessary, but you should stay away from any activity that aggravates or causes back spasms, such as heavy lifting or certain exercises.
2. Cold Compresses
Another first line of conservative treatment anytime you suffer back spasms is applying a cold compress on the affected area. It is particularly effective for sprains, strains and other injuries.
During the first 24 to 72 hours, a cold compress is very effective. The cold temperature reduces inflammation, which helps relieve pain. The cold temperature also causes the muscles to shrink, which helps stop the energy that causes the spasm.
- Wrap a handful of ice cubes in a thin towel.
- Place it on the affected area for about 15 minutes.
- Repeat every hour for the first 24 to 72 hours.
A bag of frozen vegetables or a commercial ice pack work well also, if you don’t have ice cubes.
Caution: Do not put an ice pack directly on your skin, as it can cause an ice burn or frostbite.
3. Moist Heat
After the first 72 hours, applying moist heat on the affected area is an effective way to get relief from a back spasm.
Heat increases blood circulation to the area and warms the muscle to help it stretch out and expand. Heat also prevents back pain from developing when the muscles are at risk of being pulled.
- Soak a towel in warm water and squeeze out the excess. Put the warm, moist towel over the affected area for 10 minutes at a time. Repeat several times a day for 2 to 3 days.
- A warm bath once or twice a day will also provide soothing relief from the pain.
Caution: With heat, avoid overdoing it, as it can increase swelling.
Painful back muscle spasms can be taken care of with simple massage therapy. Gentle massaging along the length and sides of the affected area will help the muscles slowly relax.
Moreover, massage helps improve blood flow to the area.
As it is not possible to effectively massage your own back, you may have to get help from a family member or friend.
- Apply some lukewarm olive or coconut oil on the affected area.
- Massage the area with long, gentle strokes for 5 to 10 minutes.
- After the massage, wrap the area with a warm towel.
- Do it several times a day.
5. Yellow Mustard
Although it has not been scientifically proven, many people have reported quick relief from a muscle spasm simply by eating yellow mustard.
One possible reason behind it could be its stimulating action on nerves in the mouth which in turn could be influencing the nerves causing the spasm.
Simply eat 1 teaspoon of yellow mustard to get relief from the spasm. Do not eat this spicy sauce in excess as it may overstimulate the digestive tract.
6. Cayenne Pepper
Cayenne pepper contains capsaicin, which has analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties that can help reduce pain due to muscle spasms.
When applied topically, capsaicin produces a warming sensation that helps relax the tense muscles in your back.
- Mix together ½ teaspoon of cayenne pepper powder and 1 tablespoon of lukewarm olive oil.
- Apply it over the affected area and massage gently for 1 minute.
- Rinse it off after 20 to 30 minutes.
- Use this simple remedy twice daily for a few days for complete recovery.
You can also use over-the-counter creams containing capsaicin to massage the affected area.
Caution: Do not apply cayenne pepper on broken or irritated skin.
7. Epsom Salt
A low magnesium level in the body can increase your risk of muscle spasms. So, if the cause of your back spasm might be low magnesium, try an Epsom salt soak.
The magnesium in Epsom salt promotes muscle relaxation and healing. But you must only use Epsom salt after the first 48 hours of developing the muscle spasm.
- Fill your bathtub with warm water.
- Add 1 to 2 cups of Epsom salt and stir it thoroughly.
- Soak in this bath for 20 minutes.
- Usually, taking this bath once will reduce the pain. But, if needed, you can repeat this remedy the next day.
Caution: An Epsom salt bath is not recommended for people who have heart problems, high blood pressure or diabetes.
Chamomile is an ancient medicinal herb that can reduce the discomforts associated with muscle spasms in the back.
It is rich in flavonoids that have anti-inflammatory properties and help reduce the pain. Plus, it has a calming and relaxing effect on the body that facilitates faster healing of the muscle tissues.
- Mix a few drops of chamomile oil in 2 tablespoons of coconut oil. Use it to massage the affected area 2 or 3 times a day.
- Also, drink chamomile tea 2 or 3 times a day to help relax sore muscles. To make the tea, steep a chamomile tea bag in a cup of hot water for 5 minutes. Drink the tea while it is still warm.
Dehydration is one of the main causes of muscle spasms. Also, a poor electrolyte balance can contribute to muscles spasms in the lower back region.
Thus, rehydrating your body can help deal with the problem to a great extent.
- Be vigilant about drinking water more often to keep your body hydrated all the time.
- Along with drinking water, eat more water-based fruits and vegetables to reduce the chance of dehydration.
- You can also opt for sports drinks that contain electrolytes to balance the electrolytes in your system. Dehydration can cause an imbalance of electrolytes.
10. Chiropractic Care & Acupuncture
Chiropractic care is another popular natural treatment for back pain due to sudden muscle spasms.
In a chiropractic care center, chiropractors use techniques like palpation, pressure, massage, manual manipulation of the spine, exercise programs and lifestyle counseling. Together, these techniques help reduce pain, swelling and inflammation.
Consult a doctor of chiropractic medicine for proper treatment, depending on the exact cause of your muscle spasm.
Like chiropractic care, acupuncture is another effective option to treat back muscle spasms.
In acupuncture, certain points on the body are stimulated with acupuncture needles to help relax the tight muscles. This in turn reduces pain and inflammation.
Always have acupuncture done by a skilled and experienced acupuncturist.
- You can take nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) to help alleviate back pain or spasms.
- You can also opt for physical therapy, in which therapists use a variety of different treatments to help relieve back spasms.
- Get up and walk as much as possible. Walking is gentle on your back and promotes blood flow.
- Make sure you do not suffer from low calcium, magnesium or potassium, as such deficiencies can affect some people who suffer from spasms.
- To prevent back spasms in the future, incorporate stretching exercises into your daily routine. Muscle fibers benefit from gentle stretching. Also, include strength training in your exercise routine, as it not only builds muscle but also helps reduce muscular imbalances.
- If you are overweight or obese, join a gym or start playing a sport to help you lose weight and get in shape.
- If the pain is unbearable, doesn’t get better within a couple of weeks, or occurs at the same location on and off then make sure to consult your doctor soon.