The Chiropractic Guide to Back Spasms
Back SpasmsA back spasm is an involuntary and sustained contraction of one or more muscles of the spine. Spasms can occur without pain when the muscle/s shift, and pulse. But it’s when pain accompanies the spasm that it can become an issue that can lead to a chronic condition. Example: Runners get the feeling of having a Charley horse in the calf muscle. Having a back spasm is the same. Spinal muscle spasms could be an indication of something serious, like a micro tear around a spinal disc that can generate inflammation to cause the muscles to tense up. However, with most cases, a back muscle spasm is a symptom of a mild muscle injury, like a sprain. It can be hard to diagnose the pathology of a muscle spasm. One theory is that if there is a noxious stimulus coursing through the body, specifically the back, it can disrupt/disturb the muscles. When this happens the muscles brace/bunch up together to protect the spine. Here’s are five muscle spasm types that can cause back and neck pain.
Cervical SpineIf there is a spasm in the neck, it’s more than likely a contraction of the trapezius muscle. This is the muscle group that runs down the neck into the middle or thoracic spine/back.
Thoracic SpineThe trapezius starts at the neck to the last vertebra of the thoracic spine or the middle-back. Therefore, a back spasm can affect the neck as well as the middle of the back as well. Spasms in the midback can also result from a contraction of the rhomboid muscle. These connect the shoulder blades to the rib cage and spine.
Lumbar SpineSpasms in the lower back occur from a contraction of the erector spinae muscles. These are the large group of stabilizing muscles that are on either side of the spine or the latissimus dorsi. These muscles are commonly referred to as lats. They are one of the largest muscle groups in the body and cover the middle and lower back.
Relieving SpasmsTreatment for muscle spasms depends on how the injury originated. A full medical history is crucial for a doctor, spine specialist, or chiropractor to be able to look at all the angles in determining and diagnosing the root cause. It could be from just leaning over and picking up a box to sleeping in an improper/uncomfortable position. This type of pain is less concerning as it is more than likely a sprain or strain, and can be treated rather quickly. However, if the spasms started after being involved in an automobile accident or falling pretty hard, then there could be serious damage to the area. Back spasms that occur after these types of situations require an immediate full neurologic and muscular examination. This along with advanced imaging, like an MRI.
SpecialistsA spine specialist or chiropractor wants to make sure they’re not missing any underlying injuries or instabilities of the spine that would require extensive and possible invasive treatment. Red flag situations include osteoporosis, which is the loss of bone mass or ankylosing spondylitis, which is a form of arthritis that mainly affects the spine.
- Osteoporosis can cause an underlying compression fracture.
- Ankylosing spondylitis can cause parts of the spine to fuse together.
- Anti-inflammation medications and creams
- Chiropractic manipulation to improve spinal muscles range of motion
- Heat and ice application
- Light activities/exercises like walking that don’t include any bending, twisting, and lifting
- Massage therapy
- Physical therapy
- Therapeutic water exercise rehabilitation program
- Wearing a soft collar for cervical spasms
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