Back Spasm

A spasm is a spontaneous, abnormal contraction of a muscle. When it occurs in the back near the spinal cord or the nerve roots, it can be very painful.


The patient feels a sudden pain in the lower back while twisting, pushing or pulling. At first, it may be possible to continue the activity. But after two to three hours, bleeding in the muscles stretches, which causes "micro tears" in the muscle and tendons.

The spasm that results causes severe back pain that gets worse with any movement of the back. The patient usually prefers to lie still, curled up with the knees bent and the spine arched forward.

Causes and Risk Factors

Spasms usually happen when a muscle is swollen and tender (inflamed) or strained. Any great force can cause a micro tear in the muscles and tendons of the lower back. This injury commonly occurs in sports such as weightlifting, football, basketball, baseball or golf that require pushing or pulling or sudden twisting of the back.

The risk of back spasm is greater in people with:


A doctor may take the patient's medical history and do a physical examination. The exam may show tenderness at a specific point or a general spasm and tenderness in the back that gets worse with any movement, especially bending forward.

Point tenderness on the spine, with more pain when the spine is extended, should be checked for a fracture.


As soon as possible after the injury, the patient may be treated with rest, ice and compression.

Conservative treatment is often tried first, using muscle relaxants, anti-inflammatory medicine or pain management (injections).

Lordosis increases stress on the muscles and ligaments that support the back. How much depends on the tilt of the pelvis. Once healing begins, most patients benefit from exercises that strengthen their abdominal muscles and restore flexibility by stretching and strengthening their back muscles.