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What Are the Treatments for Back Muscle Spasm?

author image Gail Morris
Gail Morris has been writing extensively since 1997. She completed a master's degree in nursing at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis and practiced in medicine for more than 20 years. Morris has published medical articles in peer-reviewed journals and now writes for various online publications and freelances for Internet marketers.
What Are the Treatments for Back Muscle Spasm?
Back muscle spasms affect daily activities. Photo Credit Tom Le Goff/Photodisc/Getty Images


A back spasm is an abnormal contraction of the muscle that continues and does not relax. According to the Patient Education Institute, a library of interactive patient education used by hospitals and physicians, back spasms are the most common cause of back pain reported to doctors. Treatment should start as soon as possible after the injury or pain has started and should address any underlying conditions that are contributing to back spasms. These conditions may include obesity, posture, recreational activities and standing and sleeping positions.


What Are the Treatments for Back Muscle Spasm?
Alternate ice and heat to reduce inflammation and pain. Photo Credit Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images

Rest, ice, heat and compression are the first line of conservative treatment anytime an individual suffers back pain and spasms. The Spine Universe recommends the use of alternating heat and cold to reduce the inflammation, muscle spasms and pain. After the first 24 hours of treatment, some patients find heat comforting and others find ice works best.


What Are the Treatments for Back Muscle Spasm?
Use only non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications for back pain or spasms. Photo Credit Liquidlibrary/liquidlibrary/Getty Images

The National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases recommends that only non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications such as ibuprofen or aspirin are used for an initial or acute back pain and spasms. When the pain becomes chronic, physicians may first try non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications such as naproxen, ketoprofen or prescription dose ibuprofen. Some people respond better to one drug over another, so your physician may consider using a different medication in the same category before trying something different. If the pain continues, physicians may try analgesics, such as oxycodone or hydrocodone, to relieve the pain. Other muscle relaxants and anti-depressant medications are favored by some physicians, but others question their usefulness.

Physical Therapy

What Are the Treatments for Back Muscle Spasm?
Physical therapists work to improve strength and flexibility. Photo Credit Jupiterimages/Creatas/Getty Images

Physical therapists may use a variety of different treatmentto help relieve back spasms. According to doctors at Mayo Clinic, these approaches may include ultrasound, electrical stimulation and muscle release techniques. Once the pain has started to dissipate, the therapist works to improve flexibility and strength in the back and abdomen and to improve posture.


What Are the Treatments for Back Muscle Spasm?
Chiropractors use various techniques to reduce pain and inflammation, including manual manipulation of the spine. Photo Credit Photos.com/Photos.com/Getty Images

Chiropractic is a branch of medicine that is based on healthy alignment of the spine. According to the Spine Universe, chiropractors also believe one of the main causes of pain is the misalignment of the vertebrae in the spine. They use techniques that include palpation, pressure, massage, manual manipulation of the spine, exercise programs and lifestyle counseling. These techniques are used to reduce inflammation, swelling and pain.

Surgical Intervention

What Are the Treatments for Back Muscle Spasm?
Consult with you doctor if your symptoms are not relieved by non-surgical techniques. Photo Credit Thinkstock/Comstock/Getty Images

Back spasms can be caused by sudden twisting or turning or can be the result of other more significant bony changes to the spine. Surgery is rarely needed for spasms that result from injury or recreational activities. The National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases recommends that physicians and patients consider surgery if back spasms are unrelieved by non-surgical techniques and are the result of spinal stenosis, spondylolisthesis, or herniated disks.

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