How Long Do Back Spasms Last?

Luckily, back spasms usually only last a few days, but those few days are agony.

Furthermore, there are people who go on to have chronic back spasms that last months or years.

Watch the video to learn how to make back spasms go away as quickly as possible and prevent the pain and spasms from becoming chronic.

Back Pain Relief More 4 Life Physical Therapy St. Louis MO 63011 Gladly Serving Ballwin, Manchester, Chesterfield, Des Peres, Ellisville, and St. Louis County. Find A Back Pain Specialist Near Me

What Causes Back Spasms?

There are a few different things that can cause a spasm or a tightening up of the muscle in your back.

It can be after an acute injury, like bending down to pick something up and throwing out your back.

Or, lower back spasms can be caused by something that comes on a little bit more gradually.

For example, if you're really active and you're doing something you're not accustomed to, then you wake up the next morning, you may find out that your back muscles have tightened up.

Then, when you stand up, and gravity starts pushing down on your spine, you may get a lower back spasm.

Additionally, if you're in a sustained bending position for a long period of time, such as working in the yard, your back muscles may spasm afterwards.

Or, if you fall asleep on the couch where you're kind of in an awkward position, that sustained position of being bent to one side can cause a spasm of your back on one side of your back when you finally wake up.

And finally, just doing a new activity that you're not accustomed to can give you a back spasm from your muscles working in a way that they're not accustomed to.

Regardless of the cause though, you're probably more concerned with finding out how you can keep your lower back spasms from lasting for a long time.

Here's how:

Back Spasm Treatment

If you Google "back spasm treatment," you'll probably find a lot of general advice such as:

And there's nothing wrong with that information.  All of those things can help back spasms to some extent.

But they really don't address the underlying cause of the back spasm.

Which means once you're done resting, icing, and taking anti-inflammatories, you're no better off than you were BEFORE you injured your back.

However, if you don't prefer having to rest and rely on anti-inflammatories, there are some other things that you can do so that your back spasms don't last as long.

The approach we prefer at More 4 Life is doing things that both get you to feel better but also address the root cause of your back spasms so that they don't come back in the future.

What Are Some Other Back Spasm Treatments?

In order to get your back spasms to go away faster, you really need to get the muscles that are tight and stiff to relax.

Don't worry, no muscle relaxers needed.

Deep Breathing To Relax Back Spasms

Deep breathing, or diaphragmatic breathing, can be really helpful for back spasm.

Try these steps to help your back spasms:

  1. Lie down on your back with your knees bent so that your spine is unloaded. Since gravity isn't pushing down on you, your back muscles don't have to work hard to support your spine against gravity.
  2. Practice deep breathing by making your belly rise as you're breathing in. Then let your belly fall as you're breathing out.
  3. Repeat this process for five to ten minutes
  4. Just let your belly rise and fall. You don't have to think too much about breathing.  Air will flow in and out of your lungs naturally as your belly rises and falls.

Why Does Diaphragmatic Breathing Help Back Spasms?

Research studies have shown that that deep breathing or diaphragmatic breathing actually releases opioid-like chemicals which are similar in their makeup to the man-made opioids.

They're really strong pain relievers, and they're good for relaxation.

And since your body makes them naturally, they don't have the negative side effects or abuse potential that man-made opioids have.

Breathing Technique For One-Sided Back Spasms

You can expand upon that and think about trying to make your air go where the spasm is, particularly if it's more on one side of your back.

Realistically, your air stays in your lungs.

You're not actually forcing air down into your lower back, but when you think about trying to breathe into your spasm, it creates a pressure gradient in your abdomen using your diaphragm.

This stretches the deep lower back muscles that are in spasm from the inside out, which can otherwise be hard to do.

Stretches To Help Back Spasms

Additionally, stretching can help relieve lower back spasms.

Quadratus Lumborum Stretch

If the spasm is just on one side, stretching away from the side of the spasm and  slightly forward can help stretch out the quadratus lumborum muscle that runs between your rib cage and your pelvis.

quadratus lumborum is a common cause of back spasms

The quadratus lumborum is a common back muscles that goes into spasm, but often people don't think about it because it's so deep.

(Out of sight, out of mind)

Psoas Stretch

The psoas (also shown above) is another deep muscle that can cause back spasms. You can stretch both your psoas and your quadratus lumborum doing this stretch.

Stretch Relieve Lower Back Spasms On The Left Side


Forward Bending Stretch

You can also do a forward bending stretch from a sitting position.

stretch to keep lower back spams from lasting as long

Doing this stretches out your back extensor muscles.

Child's Pose Stretch

You can also stretch lower back spasms by doing child's pose.

Child's pose stretch can help relieve lower back spasms

To do this, you kneel on all 4's and rock back towards your heels until you feel a stretch in your lower back muscles.

Physical Therapy For Lower Back Spasms

Additionally, getting physical therapy for your lower back spasms can help your relieve your pain and get back to the activities you enjoy faster.

Now you might ask: 

Why would I need physical therapy if you just gave me all of the exercises I need?

And the answer to that is: 

We have a specialized type of physical therapy here at More 4 Life that isn't just giving you a bunch of exercises.

That's why I'm happy to give away for free more information in videos and blog posts than you might get as some "chain" physical therapy places.

We like to spend our time with our patients working on the things that REALLY help get them better and keep them better.

(Spoiler alert, it's not exercises.) 

As I mentioned earlier in the article, we believe in addressing the root cause of the problem so that you don't keep getting recurrent episodes of back pain in the future.

(Our clients appreciate that too.)

What's the other reason you might want physical therapy for your back spasms?

Manual physical therapy techniques can help relieve lower back spasms faster.

For more acute cases, spinal manipulation in the first 2 weeks after the onset of back pain can dramatically help reduce the pain.

For more chronic cases, dry needling can help relieve chronic muscle spasms.

I've even had patients who have had chronic back spasms for years that were relieved with dry needling.

However, neither spinal manipulation nor dry needling is a stand-alone fix for back pain.

That's why many people have to keep going back to a chiropractor for maintenance.

Because they never find out what caused their back to spasm in the first place, or what they can do to prevent recurrent episodes of back pain in the future. 

Want to find out how you can:

  • Relieve your back spasms fast?
  • Get back to doing the things you enjoy as quickly as possible?
  • Prevent future back spasms?

If so, tap the button below to request an appointment with one of our specialist physical therapists.

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