A back spasm is a common muscle problem that one can experience when waking up and getting out of bed, lifting something heavy, or after a sudden or jerky movement. These types of spasms usually strike without warning.
The spasm occurs due to an abnormal contraction of the muscle that takes hold and does not relax. Factors that can contribute to such spasms include obesity, poor posture, structural imbalance in the body, dehydration, electrolyte loss and poor sleeping positions.
Occasionally, back spasms can be a sign of a spinal injury or other illness that require medical attention.
When it comes to common back spasms, treatment should start as soon as possible or the pain can become unbearable and severely affect your daily activities. In fact, muscle spasms are one of the most common causes of back pain.
Spasms in the back can be easily treated with home remedies and other popular techniques.
Note: If the pain is consistent and gets more severe with movement, consult your doctor immediately.
Here are the top 10 ways to get rid of back spasms.
As soon as you feel a back spasm, immediately stop what you are doing and rest. Continuing to move will worsen the pain and can lead to a serious muscle injury.
Carefully and slowly get to a bed or a comfortable flat surface to sit or lay down and remain temporarily immobile. If needed, use cushions and pillows for support and do deep breathing to stay calm. You can also keep your legs elevated with pillows to take pressure off the spine, which may help relieve pain.
By remaining immobile for some time, you prevent triggering the injured muscles. This in turn can reduce both the intensity and duration of the pain.
It is advised to rest for 1 to 2 days. Complete bed rest is not necessary, but you should stay away from any activity that aggravates or causes back spasms, such as heavy lifting or certain exercises.
2. Cold Compresses
Another first line of conservative treatment anytime you suffer back spasms is applying a cold compress on the affected area. It is particularly effective for sprains, strains and other injuries.
During the first 24 to 72 hours, a cold compress is very effective. The cold temperature reduces inflammation, which helps relieve pain. The cold temperature also causes the muscles to shrink, which helps stop the energy that causes the spasm.
- Wrap a handful of ice cubes in a thin towel.
- Place it on the affected area for about 15 minutes.
- Repeat every hour for the first 24 to 72 hours.
A bag of frozen vegetables or a commercial ice pack work well also, if you don’t have ice cubes.
Caution: Do not put an ice pack directly on your skin, as it can cause an ice burn or frostbite.
3. Moist Heat
After the first 72 hours, applying moist heat on the affected area is an effective way to get relief from a back spasm.
Heat increases blood circulation to the area and warms the muscle to help it stretch out and expand. Heat also prevents back pain from developing when the muscles are at risk of being pulled.
- Soak a towel in warm water and squeeze out the excess. Put the warm, moist towel over the affected area for 10 minutes at a time. Repeat several times a day for 2 to 3 days.
- A warm bath once or twice a day will also provide soothing relief from the pain.
Caution: With heat, avoid overdoing it, as it can increase swelling.
Painful back muscle spasms can be taken care of with simple massage therapy. Gentle massaging along the length and sides of the affected area will help the muscles slowly relax.
Moreover, massage helps improve blood flow to the area.
As it is not possible to effectively massage your own back, you may have to get help from a family member or friend.
- Apply some lukewarm olive or coconut oil on the affected area.
- Massage the area with long, gentle strokes for 5 to 10 minutes.
- After the massage, wrap the area with a warm towel.
- Do it several times a day.
5. Yellow Mustard
Although it has not been scientifically proven, many people have reported quick relief from a muscle spasm simply by eating yellow mustard.
One possible reason behind it could be its stimulating action on nerves in the mouth which in turn could be influencing the nerves causing the spasm.
Simply eat 1 teaspoon of yellow mustard to get relief from the spasm. Do not eat this spicy sauce in excess as it may overstimulate the digestive tract.
6. Cayenne Pepper
Cayenne pepper contains capsaicin, which has analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties that can help reduce pain due to muscle spasms.
When applied topically, capsaicin produces a warming sensation that helps relax the tense muscles in your back.
- Mix together ½ teaspoon of cayenne pepper powder and 1 tablespoon of lukewarm olive oil.
- Apply it over the affected area and massage gently for 1 minute.
- Rinse it off after 20 to 30 minutes.
- Use this simple remedy twice daily for a few days for complete recovery.
You can also use over-the-counter creams containing capsaicin to massage the affected area.
Caution: Do not apply cayenne pepper on broken or irritated skin.