El Paso Functional Medicine
I hope you have enjoyed our blog posts on various health, nutritional and injury related topics. Please don't hesitate in calling us or myself if you have questions when the need to seek care arises. Call the office or myself. Office 915-850-0900 - Cell 915-540-8444 Great Regards. Dr. J

Treating Back Spasms: A Comprehensive Guide


Learning the cause of the problem and how to effectively manage it can help individuals experiencing back spasms to quickly and safely return to previous levels of function and activity.

Treating Back Spasms: A Comprehensive Guide

Back Spasm

Individuals dealing with back pain or sciatica usually describe the symptoms as the back muscles tightening or spasming. A back spasm can feel mild, like a fist pressing into one side of the spine or an intense pain that prevents the individual from sitting, standing, or walking comfortably. Bask spasms can become severe, causing difficulty maintaining normal upright posture.

What Is A Spasm

A back spasm is a sudden onset of back muscle tightness. Sometimes, the tight sensation becomes so intense and severe that it prevents the individual from moving normally. Some individuals have difficulty bending forward because of the pain and tightness.


Most episodes last several hours to several days. Severe cases can last about six to eight weeks, but the spasms and pain subside gradually, allowing the individual to move normally and resume normal activity. Common sensations and symptoms can include:

  • Difficulty bending.
  • A tight sensation in the back.
  • Pulsing pains and sensations.
  • Pain on one or both sides of the back.

Sometimes, the spasm can cause radiating pain in the buttocks and hips. When severe, it can be accompanied by nerve pain, numbness, and tingling that radiates down one or both legs. (Medline Plus. 2022)


Back spasms are caused by tight muscle tissue, which often results from some mechanical stress. The stress causes the muscle tissue near the spine to be pulled abnormally. As a result of the pulling, the muscle fibers become taut and painful. Mechanical causes of back spasms may include: (Merck Manual, 2022)

  • Poor sitting and/or standing posture.
  • Repetitive overuse injury.
  • Lumbar strains.
  • Lumbar disc herniations.
  • Low back osteoarthritis.
  • Spondylolisthesis – vertebrae shift out of position, including anterolisthesis and retrolisthesis.
  • Spinal stenosis

All these can place increased stress on the anatomical structures in the spine. The lower back muscles near these structures may go into a protective spasm that can also cause a tight and painful sensation in the back. Other non-mechanical causes of low back spasms include: (Merck Manual, 2022)

  • Stress and anxiety
  • Lack of physical activity and exercise
  • Fibromyalgia

Risk Factors

Risk factors for back spasms include: (National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, 2023)

  • Age
  • Job-related factors – constant lifting, pushing, pulling, and/or twisting.
  • Poor sitting posture or sitting for long periods without back support.
  • Lack of physical conditioning.
  • Being overweight or obese.
  • Psychological conditions – anxiety, depression, and emotional stress.
  • Family medical history of ankylosing spondylitis.
  • Smoking

Individuals can stop smoking, start exercising, or engage in positive activities to help manage stress. Individuals dealing with back spasms may need to see a healthcare provider for a proper diagnosis and treatment.


Treatment for back spasms can include home remedies or therapies from medical providers. The treatments are designed to relieve the spasms and manage the mechanical stresses that may have caused them. Medical professionals can also show strategies to prevent spasms. Home remedies can include: (Merck Manual, 2022)

  • Application of heat or ice
  • Low back massage
  • Postural adjustments
  • Gentle stretching
  • Analgesic medication
  • Anti-inflammatory medication (Anuj Bhatia et al., 2020)

If self-care strategies are unable to provide relief, individuals may need to visit a medical professional for treatment. Medical treatments can include: (Merck Manual, 2022)

  • Physical therapy
  • Chiropractic care
  • Acupuncture
  • Non-surgical decompression
  • Transcutaneous electrical neuromuscular stimulation
  • Steroid injections
  • Lumbar surgery is a last resort treatment.

Most individuals are able to manage symptoms with physical therapy or chiropractic, which includes learning exercises and posture adjustments to relieve tightness.


Simple lifestyle adjustments can have a significant effect on back spasms. Ways to prevent back spasms can include: (Medline Plus. 2022) (Merck Manual, 2022)

  • Maintaining hydration throughout the day.
  • Modifying movements and bending and lifting techniques.
  • Practicing postural correction techniques.
  • Performing daily stretching and strengthening exercises.
  • Engaging in cardiovascular exercise.
  • Performing meditation or other stress management techniques.

Personal Injury Rehabilitation


Medline Plus. (2022). Low back pain—acute. Retrieved from medlineplus.gov/ency/article/007425.htm

Merck Manual. (2022). Low back pain. Merck Manual Consumer Version. www.merckmanuals.com/home/bone,-joint,-and-muscle-disorders/low-back-and-neck-pain/low-back-pain

National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. (2023). Back pain. Retrieved from www.ninds.nih.gov/health-information/disorders/back-pain?

Bhatia, A., Engle, A., & Cohen, S. P. (2020). Current and future pharmacological agents for the treatment of back pain. Expert opinion on pharmacotherapy, 21(8), 857–861. doi.org/10.1080/14656566.2020.1735353

Post Disclaimer

Professional Scope of Practice *

The information herein on "Treating Back Spasms: A Comprehensive Guide" is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional or licensed physician and is not medical advice. We encourage you to make healthcare decisions based on your research and partnership with a qualified healthcare professional.

Blog Information & Scope Discussions

Our information scope is limited to Chiropractic, musculoskeletal, physical medicines, wellness, contributing etiological viscerosomatic disturbances within clinical presentations, associated somatovisceral reflex clinical dynamics, subluxation complexes, sensitive health issues, and/or functional medicine articles, topics, and discussions.

We provide and present clinical collaboration with specialists from various disciplines. Each specialist is governed by their professional scope of practice and their jurisdiction of licensure. We use functional health & wellness protocols to treat and support care for the injuries or disorders of the musculoskeletal system.

Our videos, posts, topics, subjects, and insights cover clinical matters, issues, and topics that relate to and directly or indirectly support our clinical scope of practice.*

Our office has reasonably attempted to provide supportive citations and has identified the relevant research study or studies supporting our posts. We provide copies of supporting research studies available to regulatory boards and the public upon request.

We understand that we cover matters that require an additional explanation of how it may assist in a particular care plan or treatment protocol; therefore, to further discuss the subject matter above, please feel free to ask Dr. Alex Jimenez, DC, or contact us at 915-850-0900.

We are here to help you and your family.


Dr. Alex Jimenez DC, MSACP, RN*, CCST, IFMCP*, CIFM*, ATN*

email: coach@elpasofunctionalmedicine.com

Licensed as a Doctor of Chiropractic (DC) in Texas & New Mexico*
Texas DC License # TX5807, New Mexico DC License # NM-DC2182

Licensed as a Registered Nurse (RN*) in Florida
Florida License RN License # RN9617241 (Control No. 3558029)
License Compact Status: Multi-State License: Authorized to Practice in 40 States*
Presently Matriculated: ICHS: MSN* FNP (Family Nurse Practitioner Program)

Dr. Alex Jimenez DC, MSACP, RN* CIFM*, IFMCP*, ATN*, CCST
My Digital Business Card