What is a back spasm?

Muscle spasms are involuntary, spontaneous contractions of a muscle. Although "back attacks" seem to occur out of the blue, the movement that triggers the incident is generally preceded by a series of small strains to the structures of the spine that develops slowly, over time. Once injured, inflammation sets in. This, in turn, sensitizes the nerves, causing the muscle/s to contract and spasm.

Causes of back spasms

Conditions, such as degenerative disc disease or herniated disc, may cause an acute episode of low back pain. A disc may herniate or bulge and compress a nearby spinal nerve root causing irritation and inflammation. The body attempts to immobilize the affected area to stop pain by tightening the surrounding musculature and as a result, painful muscle spasms occur.

Muscles can become too tight due to lack of exercise, too much exercise, structural imbalances, dehydration and electrolyte loss, or any combination thereof. In contrast, some muscle groups are too weak. When muscular imbalances become chronic aberrant forces are transmitted to the spine. Consequently, one movement outside of the norm can trigger an injury to a spinal joint, ligament, or disc resulting in spasm and back pain. Because these structures are already "primed," the event that triggers the spasm is nothing more than the proverbial straw that broke the camel's back.

Treatments

Non-Surgical Orthopaedic Treatments

Some orthopaedic conditions are first treated with non-surgical procedures followed by surgery as the next step.

Orthopaedic Rehabilitation

As one of the most extensive programs at Bryn Mawr Rehab Hospital, our primary focus is to help patients build strength, mobility and endurance for a variety of orthopaedic conditions.

Services

Sports Medicine

If you’ve had a sports-related injury or have a condition that’s keeping you out of the game, our sports medicine expert physicians and specialists are here to help you get back to doing the things you love.

Spine

Pain in your spine can affect your whole range of movement and quality of life. Learn how Main Line Health specialists provide compassionate care for your spinal needs.

Neurosurgery

Discover how Main Line Health neurosurgeons provide expert care, from routine to complex spinal and nervous system conditions for patients.