Why does my back spasm – What to do and how can we help?
A common issue we hear from patients with acute low back pain, struggling to move, is that their back ‘just went’. Sometimes it is localised to one side but often it is described as a tight band of across the whole of the lower spine which causes pain. In some cases, patients can have a shooting sensation down one or both legs or into the groin and buttocks. This is often concerning and anxiety provoking to experience. There can be a long-standing history of a ‘niggly back’ over months or years but occasionally there is no obvious reason or cause. Quite often a sudden onset of low back pain can occur following an increase in activity or overuse in repetitive activities, heavy lifting, gardening or regularly swinging a gold club. However, it can also be due to an imbalance in muscle mass, loading or asymmetry within the body from adopting the same positions at work or in the car. Whilst we are always here to help, if you experience a spasm across the lower back, there are some basics steps that you can do to help alleviate the initial pain. However, when there is referred pain into the legs, buttocks, groin you should always seek further support and advice from a medical professional.
What can you do?
Muscle spasms, although they can be very painful, can also be the first line in defence to preventing any further injury so, if this happens to you then the first thing is to not panic. Pain is a warning that something is wrong but not necessarily permanent. In the first instance you need to gently get into a comfortable position, often this can be slightly leaning forward, take deep breaths and try to focus on relaxing.
Applying warmth and cold either separately or alternately can help ease some of the initial discomfort. Gentle movement such as walking or stretches such as Child Pose or Cat Cow can help to ease of symptoms and increase movement. Patients may need to take pain relief such as anti-inflammatories or muscle relaxants, to enable increase movement. Often the initial sharp pain will settle quickly, and patients can continue with day-to-day activities.
When should I seek additional support?
The good news is a lot of pain will settle with proper management using the continued M/RICE methods. Movement/ Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation within 1 -2 weeks. However, there are times when the pain remains or starts to impact on day-to-day life and sleep can be affected. This is when patients should look to a musculoskeletal professional to support their recovery further. Shooting sharp pain down the legs, into the buttocks or groin can be a sign of something more significant. However, even in this instance, with the right treatment plans, home exercises plans, and practitioner intervention symptoms and pain can be relieved. Occasionally, patients will need further referral to specialist consultants, but your practitioner will discuss this with you if needed.
The bottom line is to look after yourselves, maintain an awareness of good postural practices, and try to stay as active and fit as possible. Don’t wait for those niggles to turn into significant pain, but also know if things go wrong that we are always here at The Thornbury Clinic to support your return to a pain free and active life.
If you have suffered with a back spasm and would like treatment from our practitioners at our Thornbury, Thornbury Active or Yate clinics , please contact our reception team on 01454 838366 or book online.