Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, MD, FFARCSI

How Long Do Back Spasms Last?

Before discussing the recovery period of back spasms, it is relevant to know what back spasm actually is. Back spasms can be summed up as a sudden and involuntary contraction of a body muscle (obviously the back muscles). Such contraction is often caused as a response to weakness, overuse, strain, muscle pain because of an injury or a disorder. Back spasms occur mostly near the spinal cord, in regions that are proximal to the spinal cord, near the nerve roots. Back spasms are accompanied by severe pain as because of injury/disorder extra pressure is exerted on sensitive nerves. Back spasms are more likely if a person is lifting extra weights, working out for long hours or engaging in strenuous sporting activities. It is understood that if the body is not hydrated properly or if there are low levels of potassium or calcium and if the person concerned is engaging in an excessive physical activity, it may lead to back spasms.

Expert suggestions reveal that if a person is suffering from back spasms then to heal it, the person needs to remain active. However, as far as the recovery period of back spasms is concerned, it depends on the intensity of the pain. If the pain associated with back spasm is sharp and intense then it may take a longer time to heal. However, the back spasms caused because of a strain, injury to the soft tissue, resolves within three to six weeks. During the three or six weeks the back spasms can be very painful.

How Long Do Back Spasms Last?

What to Do For Back Spasms?

Prior to treating back spasms yourself, it is advised to visit a trained spine specialist with the objective of developing an appropriate treatment program (Specific to the patient condition and medical history). The prime goals for managing pain related to back spasms (pain in the lumbar spine) include the following:

  • To provide enough pain relief from back spasms it is important for the patient to engage in physical therapy, rehabilitation.
  • Preventing stress or injury to the spine using improved posturing and ergonomics.
  • Maintaining an ability to function adequately at work and at home.
  1. Conservative Treatment for Back Spasms

    When it comes to back spasms treatment there is the conservative management approach and it is effective in treating back and neck spasms. It helps to treat related spinal conditions. The significant thing about this treatment approach is that it is purely non-surgical. The treatment includes physical therapy, injections, and medications. The different episodes of back spasms can be treated using the conservative approach. Combinations of conservative treatments are recommended to get rid of the spasms in the back.

    • Pain Medication. Typical pain medications used in the conservative treatment of lower back spasms include NSAIDs, acetaminophen, oral steroids, muscle relaxants, narcotic drugs, and anti-depressants. Each of the medications has limitations, strengths, and also risks. The patient's problem (back spasm), overall health determines the type of pain reliever is useful.
    • Heat or Ice. Applying a cold pack or a heating pad can help get rid of the back spasms.

    There are some alternative methods of treating back spasms and they are as follows:

    • Manual manipulation. This treatment method is useful in treating back spasms. For this treatment, the patient needs to contact a chiropractor or an osteopathic doctor. The services rendered by a chiropractor or an osteopathic doctor helps to get rid of the back spasms by reducing pressure on sensitive areas, enhancing flexibility, improving the blood flow and diminishing muscle tension.
    • Therapeutic massage. Massage therapy improves blood flow and it reduces muscle stiffness and diminishes stiffness.
    • Exercise. Back exercises; physical therapy usually includes a combination of stretching, strengthening, and low-impact aerobic exercises.

    In case the back pain is serious and conservative management technique is not responsive or emergency care is required then surgical treatment methods are recommended. Therefore, it is important to understand that surgery opts if the conservative treatment fails, pain persists for an extended time period, and if that pain limits the ability to function freely.

  2. Medications for Treating Back Spasms

    The use of medicines decreases the back spasms; it reduces the muscle spasms in individuals. However, it needs to be borne in mind that medicine alone is not effective for the treatment of back spasms. Medicine should be taken along with other treatment methods to treat back spasms. Some treatment methods include using heat or ice on the affected area.

    There are many medicines available as far treating lower back spasms are concerned. However, in this regard, one needs to understand that the choice of the medicine depends on certain factors and it includes the duration for which the patient is suffering from pain, the symptoms that the patient exhibit, and obviously the patient's medical history. If medicines are required for the treatment of back spasms then one has to be safe with them. It is important to read the instructions that are mentioned on the label.

    The medicines that are used in treating back spasms are the following:

    • Acetaminophen (Tylenol) and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like naproxen, ibuprofen can be used to treat pain associated with back spasm.
    • The patient can purchase the medicines without the requirement of a prescription. Some of these medicines are available in strong doses. Those which come in strong doses, for them, the prescription is very much essential.
    • Muscle Relaxants. These medicines help when the patient suffers from bad back spasms. The common side effects of such medications are drowsiness.
      Opiate Pain Relievers. These are strong medicines and are used to ease severe pain in the back. If other medicines fail then opiate pain relievers need to be administered. They are usually taken for only seven to fourteen days.
    • Antidepressants. Medicines like amitriptyline and duloxetine help treats depression. They also help in the treatment of chronic pain.

    Other Medicines Used For Treating Back Spasms Are:

    • Anesthetic or Steroid Injections. These are used according to prescriptions for treating chronic back spasms. These medications may offer short-term relief from leg pain associated with a back problem.
    • Anticonvulsants. These are used in treating back spasms. Evidence suggests that these medicines are not that strong enough to help get rid of the acute pain.
    • Botox injection. The botox injection is a shot into the back muscles. However, it has not been tested for chronic low-back pain.

    In this context, it is important to say that some of the medicines which work for some may not work for others. Therefore, it is important for the patient to consult a physician prior to taking medicines for back pain.

  3. Injections for Back Spasms

    • Trigger Point Injections for Back Spasm. If pressure is applied to a particular spot in the back (also called a trigger point) then pain is caused on that spot and it can extend to other body parts, especially the leg or the hip. To get rid of the pain, the patient can use a local anesthetic. It can be used alone or along with a corticosteroid. The medicine can be injected at the trigger point that causes pain.
    • Facet Joint Injections for Back Spasm. This is a local anesthetic/corticosteroid that can be injected into the facet joint. About the facet joint, it can be said that it is one of the points where one vertebra remains connected to another.
    • Epidural Injections for Back Spasm. The corticosteroid can be injected into the spinal canal in order to treat the back spasms.

    The injections for back spasms treatment can be administered by the orthopedist, neurologist, psychiatrist, pain management specialist or an anesthesiologist.

  4. Massage for Back Spasms

    With inflammation, the back muscles can cause spasm and this can lead to severe lower back pain and moving difficulty. Upper back pain may be caused because of muscle strain, injury due to sporting activity, or auto accident. Massage surely helps to get rid of the spasm/irritation and hence improve the range of motion.

  5. Exercises for Back Spasms

    Some of the simple exercises for managing back spasms are knee-to-chest stretch exercise, prone back extension, trunk rotations, hamstring stretch etc…

  6. Yoga for Back Spasms

    Yoga asanas/poses and pranayama combined can provide a great relief from back spasms. Below mentioned are some of the yoga poses and pranayamas for treating back spasms:

    • Tadasana (Palm tree pose): Such pose stretches the muscles. Even the tiny muscles are stretched by using this asana. The asana relaxes the body and it creates a healing effect on the nerves.
    • Parsavkonasana (Lateral angle posture): It stretches the heart, hip, and the waist muscles.
    • Makrasana (Crocodile posture): It stretches the muscles of the legs and back muscles. It helps to get rid of physical and mental body fatigue.
    • Yastikaana (Stick pose): This yoga asana can be effective in stretching and soothing the tiny body muscles and can also be useful in relieving back spasms.
    • Matsyasana: It is good in the treatment of back and neck muscular spasm
    • Adho Mukha Savasana (The downward-facing dog pose): It relieves to the lower back muscles, also provides spinal support. It is good to heal muscular cramps.
    • Balasana (Child pose): An effective yoga posture that relaxes the body. It is good in the treatment of muscular spasms.
    • Bhujangasana (The Cobra pose): The cobra pose gives gentle stretching to the back, leg muscles.
    • Wall Plank: It soothes and stretches the muscles surrounding the spine, leg, and hands.
    • Shavasana (Corpse pose): Effective in the treatment of strain, stress cramps, depression, back spasm.
    • Saithalyasana (Animal relaxation pose): Good for spines that are stiff.
    • Anulom Vilom Pranayama: It is beneficial in giving the muscles relaxation.
    • Deep Breathing: It helps to ease out muscles and provides relief from back spasms.

Also Read:

Pramod Kerkar

Written, Edited or Reviewed By:


Pain Assist Inc.

Last Modified On: August 18, 2017

This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer

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