HomeHealth A-ZBack Spasms: Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment and Prevention

Back Spasms: Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment and Prevention

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A back spasm is an involuntary contraction or straining of the muscles in the lower back. This condition varies from infrequent spasms with mild discomfort to chronic spasms with severe pain making it difficult to move.

Usually, back spasms can be treated without the need for surgery. If the pain is related to nerve problems in the spine, consult a doctor.

What are the causes of lower back spasms?

Injuries to the back muscles, tendons, and ligaments can lead to spasms. They may be associated with more serious medical conditions as well. In addition to heavy lifting, any activity that puts too much pressure on the muscles and ligaments in the lower back can lead to injury. Sports such as football and golf can cause back spasms since the back has to turn suddenly and repeatedly.

The back muscles may be more vulnerable if the abdominal muscles that help support the back are weak. Weak or stiff muscles in the back can be injured more easily than stronger and more agile muscles.

Back pain can occur in people with arthritis or a ruptured disc in the spine. Arthritis in the lower back can put pressure on the spinal cord, leading to pain in the back and the legs. A ruptured or bulging disc in the vertebrae can also pressure a nerve and lead to back pain.

How are back spasms diagnosed?

An X-ray helps check for signs of arthritis or bone fracture.

The doctor may also recommend magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or computerised tomography (CT) to better look at the muscles and other soft tissues. These scans may also help identify potential problems with the discs or blood supply to the affected area.

The doctor will take a detailed medical history and details about the spasms. A physical examination of the lower back and spine might also be required. 

How are lower back spasms treated?

The treatment is dependent on the cause of the symptoms. While exercise and stretching can improve many causes of lower back spasms, this might be insufficient for chronic conditions. Depending on the diagnosis, the doctor can advise:

  • Pain medication
  • Physical therapy
  • Surgery to repair the injured discs
  • Spinal decompression surgery

What is the home remedy for back spasms?

Certain home remedies that can help with lower back spasms include:

  • Applying hot and cold packs, alternatively.
  • Gently massaging the area to loosen tense muscles.
  • Stretching, walking, and other light exercises with minimum strain on the back.
  • Consuming over-the-counter pain medications, particularly nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen.
  • Using relaxation techniques such as meditation and deep breathing.

When intense pain does not improve with home management, or if it’s recurrent, it is necessary to see the doctor.

How can back spasms be prevented?

Back spasms are preventable by doing the following:

  • Lose weight, if overweight, to relieve the stress on the spine and the joints.
  • Standing up straight and wearing low-heeled shoes will assist in providing stability and strength in the lower back.
  • Regular physical activity, like strengthening exercises for the back and abdomen. 
  • Spending too much time in bed or a seat for a long time results in worsening back problems.

When people are physically inactive, they must speak with the doctor before beginning an exercise program so that the doctor can suggest certain exercises that are easier on the back.


A lower back spasm can be painful and frustrating and might cause some people to stop exercising or become less active, worsening the problem. The ideal manner for dealing with back spasms is to stay active and try home treatment options. If the pain does not reduce, it is best to consult the doctor.

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