Recognizing and coping with back cramps

A back spasm is a tight or muscle twitch that is located somewhere in the back. They are very common and can arise from overuse, spinal problems, or seemingly nothing at all. The pain of a back spasm can be a minor discomfort, or it can be severe and interfere with daily functioning.

Back spasms on their own are not usually considered serious, although they can indicate a larger problem.

Symptoms of Back Cramp

The main symptom of a back cramp is: pain that can to be mild or severe† The area will usually feel tense. Sometimes a back spasm can be seen, either because the muscle is so tight that it is deformed or because it is visibly shaking. It may also feel hard or soft.

wife restrained in pain m-gucci / Getty Images

Causes of Back Cramps

lift heavy objects, sudden twisting of the back, sleeping in an uncomfortable position, or any injury to the muscles or ligaments of the back can cause back cramps. They can develop without a specific injury, simply from repetitive strain, especially in people who out of shape or carry overweight

Spinal problems such as a hernia disk or degenerative disk disease can also cause back cramps.

man with a stack of boxes Dean Mitchell / Getty Images

Home treatment

Back cramps caused by an injury usually get better in a couple of weeks with proper home care. Experts to advise take over-the-counter pain relievers and apply heat to the area, but beware of too much bed rest. Light walking and gentle movements speed healing, while bed rest reduces blood flow and prolongs recovery.

Stretching the affected area can also help relieve pain.

woman applying hot compress on her back solid colors / Getty Images

When to go to a doctor

It’s the best to make a doctor appointment if the pain of a back spasm is severe, causing weakness or numbness in a limb, interfering with sleep, or lasting longer than about two weeks. In those cases, home treatment may not be enough.

Signs of a possible emergency include a fever in addition to the spasms or loss of bladder or bowel control. If in doubt, consult a doctor.

Sick man taking temperature with digital thermometer Tom Merton / Getty Images

Medical treatment

Unpleasant to evaluate a back crampA doctor will check the patient’s reflexes, test for limb weakness, and examine the painful area. If there are reasons to suspect an underlying spinal condition, they may order an X-ray or MRI.

In addition to basic home care, doctors may recommend physical therapy, or prescribe muscle relaxant medications, cortisone injections, anti-inflammatories, or even short-term opioid treatments.

Doctor consultation with patient Back problems SARINYAPINNGAM / Getty Images

Alternative treatments

Alternative treatments that can help treat back cramps include acupuncture, acupressure, chiropractic adjustments, and massage therapy. Acupuncture can relieve pain, and acupressure can directly target the affected muscle and encourage it to relax. If the back spasm is caused by poor posture or misalignment, chiropractic care can address the cause. Massage therapy can help relieve back cramps caused by overwork.

Women undergoing acupuncture treatment kokouu / Getty Images


The main complication of back cramps is: chronic pain† The pain can make the cramping worse, which in turn makes the pain worse, and so on. Because of this cycle, it’s important to treat the pain caused by a muscle spasm rather than just pushing through it.

Female massage therapist massaging patient's back aldomurillo / Getty Images


The prognosis for a back spasm depends on the cause. If overuse or a sprain or strain is the cause, the spasm will likely be within two weeks with gentle movement, stretching, heat, and over-the-counter anti-inflammatory drugs. If the back spasm is caused by a hernia diskrecovery can take four weeks or more.

Some causes of back cramps, such as: arthrosisare chronic and require lifelong observation and care.

woman with sore back Albina Gavrilovic / Getty Images

Treatment for Chronic Back Cramps

Many medications used to treat back spasms have long-term side effects, so people with chronic problems may choose to explore other treatments.

Mindfulness exercises such as meditation and tai chi can help with pain relief. Anti-inflammatory diets, nerve blocks, and nerve ablation are all options that can help address the root cause of chronic back cramps.

woman sitting on a yoga mat and meditating alone in her house PeopleImages/Getty Images


The best way to prevent back cramps is by: keep the muscles from the back strong through low-impact exercises such as walking and through back strengthening exercises. Maintaining a healthy weight and avoiding smoking may also help.

Unpleasant prevent injury and unnecessary strain on the backit’s important to stretch regularly, use proper lifting technique, and maintain good posture.

senior women walking together in the morning AJ_Watt/Getty Images
Coffee, Keyboard and music.. Best Companion for quality writing. Aditya Pratap is undergrad fellow and looking for best stuffs in Technology, Politics and Startups.