About Back Muscle Spasms or Sprain
It is estimated in studies conducted that around 75% of adults in the United States suffer from back pain and stiffness at some point in time in their lives. This back pain may be from benign conditions like back muscle spasm or sprain or they can be caused due to more serious conditions like a disc herniation or other spine related problems. An involuntary contraction of the back muscle is what we term as back muscle spasms or sprain. The severity of spasm or sprain of back muscle can range from mild with relatively low grade pain to severe, in which the patient may suffer from severe back pain to the point of not being able to do his or her daily activities adequately.
Back muscle spasm or sprain may cause temporary loss of range of motion of the back and may cause severe pain, but fortunately almost all the cases of spasm or sprained back muscle can be treated conservatively and very rarely surgery is required and that too when a problem with the nerve or spine is associated with back muscle spasm or sprain.
What Causes Back Muscle Spasm or Sprain?
Back muscle spasm or sprain can be caused due to any type of injuries to the muscles, tendons, or ligaments in the back. Heavy lifting on a repetitive basis is the most common cause of back muscle spasm or sprain. Any type of activity that causes excessive load on the muscles and ligaments in the lower back can result in spasm or sprain of back muscle. Sporting activities like football and golf also have a tendency to cause back muscle spasm or sprain as they require the player to turn around or pivot repetitively and suddenly. The back muscle becomes that much more vulnerable to injuries if an individual tends to have weak abdominal muscles as these are the muscles that provide support to the back. Medical conditions like arthritis or a ruptured disk also may cause back muscle spasm or sprain.
What are the Symptoms of Back Muscle Spasm or Sprain?
Some of the symptoms of back muscle spasm or sprain are:
- Moderate to severe back pain.
- Pain in the hips.
- Spinal curvature.
- Foot drop.
- Muscle weakness.
- Neck pain.
- Numbness and tingling in the lower extremities.
- Shoulder pain.
- Spine stiffness.
- Headaches, particularly in the back of the head.
How is Back Muscle Spasm or Sprain Diagnosed?
To begin with after making a note of the history and examining the patient, the physician may order radiographic studies in the form of x-rays, MRI, or CT scans to look for other causes of symptoms like a bone fracture or arthritis or whether there is a problem with the spine or the disc in the form of a nerve compression or a spinal stenosis. A diagnosis of back muscle spasm or sprain can be confirmed based on the answers to the following questions, which may be asked by the care provider:
- What is the severity of the back pain?
- What are the circumstances which aggravates the pain?
- Are there any positions which relieve the pain or makes the pain milder?
- When did the symptoms actually begin?
The patient should not forget to mention his or her occupation especially if it involves lifting of items or moving items from one place to another and also to mention, which activity started the symptoms of Spasm or Sprain of Back Muscle.
How is Back Muscle Spasm or Sprain Treated?
If back muscle spasm or sprain has been caused due to an injury or an activity then icing the area for 15 to 20 minutes two to three times a day and avoiding activities for a few days that may aggravate the condition is recommended. NSAIDs like Tylenol or ibuprofen is also quite effective in treating back muscle spasm or sprain and allows the muscle to heal.
Cortisone injections have also shown good effectiveness in treatment of back muscle spasm or sprain, but they tend to increase blood sugars, so caution needs to be maintained especially in diabetics and clearance should be taken by the primary care physician before embarking upon this mode of treatment. Chiropractic care can also be quite effective along with physical therapy in treatment of back muscle spasm or sprain.
How to Prevent Back Muscle Spasm or Sprain?
Taking care of the back goes a long way in preventing conditions like back muscle spasm or sprain. In case if an individual is overweight, then shedding a few pounds can go quite a long way in preventing spasm or sprain of back muscle as the burden on the spine and back will ease quite a lot. Participating in regular physical activity and doing exercises to strengthen the abdominal and back muscles also tend to help prevent back muscle spasm or sprain.