7 Causes of Back Muscle Spasm & Its Risk Factors

Sudden painful tightening of muscle triggers back spasm in male and female alike. Sudden involuntary contractions in the back muscles is known as back muscle spasm. Back muscle spasm can continue for hours, days and months and can produce pain in the individual and restriction of movements. While most people may only have an occasional back muscle spasm, some individuals deal with chronic back muscle spasms occurring every now and then. In response to an underlying anatomical problem, muscles of the back may go through spasm abruptly. Strain on ligaments may also cause the muscles of the back to go into spasm. Unacquainted exercises and hard physical activities can trigger excruciating spasms in the muscles of lower back region.

7 Causes of Back Muscle Spasms

7 Causes of Back Muscle Spasms

Given below are 7 common causes of back muscle spasms:

  1. Back Muscle Spasms Caused By Sudden Movement Of The Back Such As Bending Over Or Twisting:

    The most common reason is unusual motion or movement causing Back Muscle Spasm which has nothing to do with the vertebrae in spine. Instead, it’s related to the muscles and ligaments that surround the spine. Twisting of the back muscles while doing some work or playing or bending to lift a heavy weight may cause sudden overstretching or tearing of the large muscles in the back. Often supporting ligaments around the spine are hurt. Suck shock results in a temporary and permanent damage in the muscle surrounding the spine and usually become inflamed. This inflammation can lead to back muscle spasm and can produce severe lower back pain.

  2. Back Muscle Spasms Caused By Sitting Too Long In The Same Posture Uncomfortably:

    Prolonged poor posture can cause back muscle spasm combined with neck pain. This is the result of a basic overdoing injury, where the muscles in the back, especially in the lower back get strained over a long period of time due to poor posture. An inactive job or a desk job especially with poor posture or sitting all day in a chair with inadequate back support may also contribute to back muscle spasm.

  3. Back Muscle Spasms Caused by Inflammation of the Nerves:

    Spinal inflammation may be experienced as back muscle spasm sometimes. Those with infections may experience a slow onset of severe back pain and back muscle spasm. Individuals with medical history of ankylosing spondylitis may experience slow-onset pain. Inflammation of the nerves in the areas where soft tissue (ligaments and tendons) attach to the bone may cause severe pain in the lower back and the joint between the spine and the pelvis resulting in back muscle spasm.

  4. Back Muscle Spasms Caused by Inflammation of Muscles:

    Simply, an overuse or strenuous activity of the muscles in the cervical and thoracic area that are attached to the spine with the help of tendons tend to get inflamed resulting in painful symptoms including back muscle spasm. The muscles of the neck and upper back are susceptible to overuse injuries thus result in inflammation of the tendons and cause severe back muscle spasm. When the back muscles are strained, the area of injury becomes inflamed and this inflammation may lead to back muscle spasms. A back muscle spasm occurs when a muscle is overstretched in a sudden, somewhat traumatic fashion. This leads to tearing of the muscle fibres and can range from mild micro-tearing to complete rupture of the muscle. This is the most common cause of back muscle spasm.

  5. Back Muscle Spasms Caused by Arthritis:

    Conditions caused by the wear and tear and breakdown of the joints and cartilage is medically termed as “joint inflammation” or “osteoarthritis“. As this form of arthritis progresses, it can cause damage to the surrounding soft tissues, including nerves and muscles. This leads to the common occurrence of back muscle spasms in many of the different muscles surrounding the cervical spine. As a result of osteoarthritis, bone outgrowth or collapsing of the joint puts pressure on nearby spinal nerves. This results in symptoms of pain, muscle weakness and back muscle spasm.

  6. Back Muscle Spasms Caused by Herniated Disc:

    The bones present in the spine are known as vertebrae. The vertebrae are separated by soft spongy discs. The spinal disc is designed to absorb shock, but over a period of time or due to injury, the spinal discs can degenerate, bulge or herniate into the spinal canal. Injuries to this herniated disc put pressure directly on to the spinal cord or the delicate spinal nerves resulting in muscle weakness and back muscle spasms.

  7. Back Muscle Spasms Caused by Stress & Depression:

    Major depression or clinical depression is one of the commonest causes of chronic Back Muscle Spasm. It has been observed by many analysts those who are working in this field consistently for years that successful treatment of stress and depression works really well in healing of Back Muscle Spasms in many patients. A systematic study of depressed individuals revealed that 42% of patients experienced the onset of depression prior to the chronic Back Muscle Spasms or chronic muscle pain. Depressed individuals were found to have increased the risk for developing back pain problems and back muscle spasm.

Common Causes of Back Muscle Spasm: A Glance at Some Important Points

  • Presence of weak abdominal muscles make your back muscles more vulnerable to any little strain or injury.
  • Presence of weaker muscles or stiff muscles on your back are much injury prone and increase the risk of back muscle spasm.
  • Weak or inflexible muscles along the spine increase the risk of back muscle spasm.
  • Medical history of Arthritis, spondylosis increase the risk of back muscle spasm.
  • Medical history of herniated disc, spinal stenosis or tumor can cause back muscle spasm.
  • Presence of ruptured disk can cause spasms of the back muscle.
  • Unusual external pressure on vertebrae can also cause spasm of back muscle.
  • Decaying nerve cells alongside the spine increase the risk of back muscle spasm.
  • A pelvis that tips forward more than normal can cause muscle spasm of lower back.
  • Weak stomach muscles also increases the risk of suffering from back muscle spasm.
  • Swayback (lordosis) which increases stress on the muscles and ligaments and increase the risk of back muscle spasm.
  • Rheumatoid osteoarthritis and sciatica increase the risk of back muscle spasm.
  • Deficiency of some minerals like Calcium, Magnesium, Sodium and Potassium etc.
  • Deficiency of some essential vitamins like Vitamin D & E can cause back muscle spasm.
  • Degenerative disc disease of the lumbar spine.
  • Dehydration and electrolyte imbalances.
  • Weight gain can cause back muscle spasm.
  • Overloading of Back Packs in Children can cause back muscle spasm in children.

Risk Factors of Back Muscle Spasm


Back Muscle Spasm and more categorically the low back pain typically occur between the ages of 30 and 50. But the risk of back muscle spasm increases with advanced age. In old ages, loss of bone strength, muscle elasticity and decreased tone is a natural phenomenon. The intervertebral discs begin to lose fluid and flexibility with age, which decreases their ability to cushion the vertebrae. The risk of spinal stenosis also increases with age.

Decreased Fitness:

Back Muscle Spasm is more common among people with low level of physical fitness. Weak back and abdominal muscles may not properly support the spine. People with low fitness level and those who lead a sedentary life are at an increased risk for back muscle spasms.


Pregnancy causes some changes in the pelvic region and produces alterations in the weight loading that’s commonly accompanied by low back spasm.


Some causes of back pain, such as ankylosing spondylitis, a form of arthritis that involves fusion of the spinal joints leading to some immobility of the spine, have a genetic component and increase the risk of back muscle spasm.

Occupational Risk Factors for Back Muscle Spasm:

Those who are involved in heavy lifting, pushing, or pulling, particularly twisting or vibrating the spine may experience injured back muscles. This is also a risk factor for back muscle spasm.

Also Read:

Team PainAssist
Team PainAssist
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Team PainAssist, Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:April 19, 2022

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