Back spasms are different from ordinary aches and pains.  Spasms usually occur following a torn muscle or overuse injuries which cause inflammation.  The inflammation can overstimulate the nerves that connect the back muscles and cause them to contract sharply, resulting in a painful spasm. There are a number of treatments you can try at home to lessen the impact of a back spasm and find some relief from the pain.

Physical Treatments

Physical treatments are usually the first port of call when treating a back spasm.

Apply Pressure Applying pressure to the area of your back where you feel the spasm can provide some relief.  Press down firmly with your fingers. If you feel the spasm intensify, maintain the pressure until it subsides.

Simulate Hydrotherapy Using your shower head, direct the water directly onto the affected part of your back and switch between hot and cold water for 30 seconds each.

Gentle Stretches and Strengthening Once the pain has subsided and you’re feeling a little better, you can try gentle stretching to loosen up the tightness in your back. 

It is also a good idea to introduce some back strengthening exercises into your training regime, but it is recommended that you consult your GP and/or physiotherapist before beginning.

Heat Treatments and Cooling Compresses

You can use alternate applications of cold and heat to treat the inflammation.

Ice Packs Icing your back can help to reduce the inflammation that triggers the spasm. Apply an ice pack to your back for 20 minutes.  After 20 minutes, remove it for 90 minutes. You can then re-apply the ice pack for another 20 minutes.  You should repeat this frequently over the course of two or three days after suffering a back spasm.

Heat Treatment You should commence heat treatment no sooner than 72 hours after the onset of a spasm.  The heat will relax the muscle fibres and promotes circulation to the area which assists in healing.  You should ensure that your heat source is damp: soaking in showers or baths is ideal.

Painkillers If you find that normal paracetamol or ibuprofen are not having much effect, you could try acetaminophen.  This painkiller is available over the counter and is popular amongst back-pain sufferers.  It works differently from ordinary painkillers in that is lessens your perception of pain in the brain and it appears to be particularly effective for back pain.

Rest After suffering a back spasm, you should rest as much as you can.  Complete bed rest is not necessary in most cases, but you must avoid overworking your back.  It can also help to elevate your legs.

Increasing Fluid Intake

Many sufferers aren’t aware that back spasms have been linked to dehydration.  Drink plenty of fluids and consider an electrolyte drink to top up your hydration levels.

If Your Symptoms Don’t Subside, Seek Medical Advice

If your symptoms persist or worsen, you should see a doctor as soon as possible.  In severe cases, your doctor may prescribe medication and refer you to a physiotherapist or chiropractor for additional treatment.


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