Back Spasm Treatment

Proven and Effective Self Treatment for Back Pain Muscle Spasms

Back spasms are reflex contractions of the muscles of the back particularly the lower back. Injury or irritation of the muscles, ligaments, and nerves of the back can cause severe pain and muscle spasm.

If you have this muscle condition usually you will feel severe muscle tightening and pain. A palpable knot or tension of the muscles is also felt on the back.

This reflex muscle contractions usually occur instantly after an injury but in some cases there may be a delay—sometimes hours or even a couple of days.

Back Pain and Muscle Spasm may start after:

  • An abrupt or unexpected movement of the back during a sport activity.
  • A Sudden twisting movement of the trunk.
  • A quick back muscles contraction to avoid fall.

Sometimes this severe back muscle cramping occurs without an injury which may be due to a reflex reaction from irritated deeper structures in the back.

Non-injury causes of back spasms

  • Torn ligaments
  • Infections
  • Tumors
  • Persistent disc irritation or inflammation (herniated disc, bulging disc, etc.)

Self treatment for back spasm

Here’s a list of some effective self care that you can do at home. These are proven self care techniques that have provided relief to most of my patients which resulted in fewer therapy visits:

1. Stop your activity.

At the first sign of a muscle spasm you need to stop your activity even if the symptom is minimal. You can try massaging or rubbing the affected muscles.

2. Cold application.

Swelling and increase blood flow can produce increase pain after an injury. By applying cold initially, it will help minimize these reactions. Cold application is usually effective after the first occurrence of spasm but you can continue with cold application if heat does not provide relief.

What to use?

  • ice wrap in a towel, or
  • pack of frozen peas.

Apply an ice pack to the painful area for about 12-15 minutes and do this every 2 hours for the first day or two.

3. Heat application

Moist heat is ideal. I noticed that most of my patients respond well from a moist heat compared to a dry heat application. Heat will help relax tensed muscles. Application of heat should be done after cold application.

Some forms of moist heat that you can use at home are:

  • a towel that has been soaked in hot water
  • a hot water bottle

The most convenient is to purchase an electric moist heating pad from a drugstore or pharmacy.

Some of my patients reported relief after taking warm bath or shower.

Apply moist heat to the painful area for about 15 minutes and do this every 4 hours until spasm subsides.

Warning: I have patients who reported increased in their symptoms when heat was applied. If this is the case, discontinue immediately and continue with cold application.

4. Rest

Take two to three days rest especially if your back spasm is due to muscle injury. Resting is important as this will help muscle injury to heal faster.

However, it is necessary to maintain some mobility during this time. I’ve seen some patients developed tightening or increased stiffness for being immobile. To avoid this problem, try slow gentle walking a couple minutes several times a day if pain allows you.

Avoid twisting and bending of the trunk—this may increase the spasm.

5. Elevate your legs

Most of my patients with back spasm report having a hard time finding a comfortable position. Here are some positions that help my patients and may also help you:

  • Lie on the floor or firm bed with lower legs resting on a support or a chair and maintaining a 90-degree bent on the knees.
  • You can also try just elevating legs on pillows.
  • Support your feet or lower legs on a foot stool while sitting.
  • Elevating your knees above hip level sometimes is more effective.

6. Relaxation Technique

I know it’s hard to relax when we are in pain but I have patients find relief by applying this technique. Diverting your mind off of the back pain helps you relax and breathe well, which will result in decrease tightening of the back muscles.

Here are some things that you can do to distract yourself from pain of back spasms:

  • Meditation
  • Reading
  • Watching your favorite TV show
  • Conversation with a loved one

7. Pain medications

If above self care techniques don’t help talk to your physician about taking over-the-counter non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) to help back spasms, such as ibuprofen or naproxen. You can ask your physician for stronger dosage of NSAIDS. Prescriptions drugs are fast acting and more effective than their over-the-counter counterpart.

Muscle relaxants prescribe by your physician can also be used but I have some patients report drowsiness after taking them. If you are advised to take this please avoid driving.

Exercises that help relieve back spasm:

  • Keeping your back straight and walk around by lifting knees up higher than you normally do. This is more effective especially if you have a low back cramping or discomfort.
  • Gentle stretches on the back muscles by raising your arms over head. You can do this 10 repetitions with 5 to 10 counts hold three to four times a day.
  • Lie on the floor with the knees bent and feet flat on the floor, then pull a knee gently towards your chest, and hold for 10 seconds and then bring leg down back to the floor, and then repeat to other knee. Perform 5 to 10 repetitions, 2 to 3 times a day on each leg if you can tolerate. Don’t do this exercise if this increases your symptoms.

Note: Don’t do these exercises on the initial onset of back spasm. These exercises should be started when pain is less severe, or the cramping is minimal.

When to call a doctor?

  • If above self care treatments don’t help.
  • If your back spasm is severe and unbearable
  • If you have weakness.
  • If your back pain and muscle spasms occur frequently. Repeated tightening of back muscles with no reason is a possibility of a more serious underlying problem.
  • If you have persistent back pain for more than two weeks.

A good qualified physician or physical therapist can determine the cause of your back spasm and can provide solution to your pain.

What if nothing seems to work?

An injury to your back sometimes can cause disc damage, or nerve irritation and impingement which can result into a chronic pain. Taking stronger dosage of pain medication prescribed by your physician will not always find you relief, or receiving traditional physical therapy treatment may not be the answer either.

Click here to investigate our non-traditional physical therapy treatment techniques that have worked wonders to even difficult to treat back problems, like spinal stenosis, herniated or ruptured disc, spinal spondylosis, sciatica,scoliosis, and many more.

Click here or Call us now at (248) 844-2665 to take advantage of our Free Consultation where we can tell you what Restore Physical Therapy LLC can do to help you!

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"… after few sessions my sciatic pain has practically disappeared. This type of therapy was much more useful to me than the heat packs and ultrasounds that I received in prior therapy."

Jacalyn H.

"The techniques worked and my back is pain free! I would recommend this to everybody, because it works. Try and find out.”

Cartwright V.

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“Before coming to Restore Physical Therapy I had six months of lower back pain…After my initial session with Oliver I walked out and feeling so much better! I’ve strongly recommend this practice to others.”

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