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.
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.