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What Causes Back Muscle Spasms?

author image Blake Biddulph
Dr. Blake Biddulph received his chiropractic degree from Parker College of Chiropractic in Dallas in 2007 and has been practicing as a chiropractic physician in Provo, Utah, ever since. He has a special interest in spinal rehabilitation and treats patients with a variety of neck and back conditions. He has been writing health-related articles and newsletters for several years.
What Causes Back Muscle Spasms?
Back Muscles Photo Credit dos2 image by Cyril Comtat from <a href="http://www.fotolia.com">Fotolia.com</a>

Most people have experienced a muscle spasm and know that the pain can be severe. A spasm is the involuntary contraction of a muscle and most often occurs in the lower back or neck and shoulders. These spasms can cause local pain and put pressure on other structures, leading to radiating pain and dysfunction in adjacent areas. Treatment for spasm can involve stretching, exercise, ice, heat, medication, massage and muscle stimulation. There are many causes for muscle spasms.


Spasms of the back muscles are commonly brought on by trauma due to an auto accident or sports injury. In these situations, the muscles are quickly over-stretched when not prepared for the action, which tears fibers within the muscle belly. The fibers of the muscles can be injured, causing immediate spasms, or the effects may be late developing. If the muscles aren't rehabilitated after the original injury, chronic spasms may develop and last until proper treatment is given.


Chronic dehydration can cause muscle spasms. When dehydrated, muscles don't have the sodium, magnesium, potassium and other electrolytes necessary to carry on the metabolic activity and can cause the muscle to spasm.


Often seen in athletes, overuse of a muscle can cause it to spasm. This is common with any person doing strenuous exercises. Chronic overuse is a common problem as well. The muscles that support the spine and control movement are shortened and stressed, causing pain, trigger point development and spasm.


According to medicinenet.com, muscle spasms are a very common occurrence with certain diseases such as diabetes, anemia and multiple sclerosis. Proper treatment or management of these conditions can help mitigate the spasms.

Poor Posture

Anyone who sits at a computer all day has likely had the experience of a muscle spasm in the back or neck. This is due to prolonged stress on the muscles when asked to hold the body in unnatural positions such as slumped over a computer. Any muscle that's held in the same position for long periods become over-stretched and eventually spasm.

Herniated Disc

When a disc in the lumbar spine pushes out of its normal confines due to degenerative changes, it can cause inflammation and irritation of nearby nerves. This irritation almost always leads to muscle spasms, often on one side of the back.

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