If you have ever experienced back pain, lower back spasms are often described by many patients as one of their symptoms. Sometimes these lower back spasms can be debilitating and prevent you from getting out of a chair, getting off the floor or even putting your socks on without debilitating pain.
Not all lower back spasms are the same, and a trip to the emergency room is usually the wrong thing to do, unless the pain came on from the passage of a kidney stone. Sometimes, what seems like spasms are not back spasms at all, but the pain may be resulting from problems in other parts of the body such as the shoulders or the legs that have no symptoms in those areas. Can you tell the difference between lower back spasms from the lower back or back pain that is resulting from another part of the body? Truthfully, most people cannot, but they do understand one thing; they’re in pain.
When do you need the help of a chiropractor or other health professional? Do I need surgery or advanced imaging such as an MRI?
Common causes for lower back spasms can include
- A herniated disc in the back.
- Lower back sprain.
- Tight legs.
- Problems in the shoulders.
Having lower back spasms that occur can be scary, especially if the pain is debilitating. Seeing the right healthcare professional first can make all the difference. Initial self care should include walking if tolerated, minor exercise and ice or heat which may relieve the condition, but ultimately, movement is the best initial response. Bed rest or sitting will aggravate an acute lower back problem and should be avoided if possible.
While it is true that some spasms will self resolve, the mechanism behind why they occurred may cause more lower back spasms or episodes in the future. Most people are not aware of chronic lower back problems until they find themselves in pain. Sometimes, we believe that we understand what caused the problem that left us in pain in the first place such as lifting an old television that was very heavy, and then twisting, or a fall. Sometimes, the problem started years ago with a first incident and since then, the problem has reoccurred with increasing frequency, affecting your family and your quality of life.
The history behind how you found yourself in pain is important because a back sprain from improperly lifting can be easily understood. A fall off of a ladder on to your back is traumatic and can mean anything from a back sprain to a fracture. Lifting your growing child improperly is a common reason for back spasms.
On the other hand, if you were bending over to grab something and your back went into spasm, was there another reason for the pain you are now experiencing? If the problem has happened with increasing frequency, it is time to visit the right healthcare practitioner who can help you help yourself.
Chiropractors have been shown through Consumer Reports, Mens health, Annals of Internal Medicine as well as other publications to be the most conservative and preferred drug free healthcare providers for people with back pain and back spasms. A holistic approach that involves not only looking at the back, but the person is often the reason chiropractors are your best first choice for problems related to the lower back.
Most back problems are movement issues. A back sprain will affect movement, and scar tissue from a healing back injury will affect the way you move and function long after the injury. The scar tissue left behind will alter the way your back moves and function, making the next injury more likely to occur. Addressing lower back spasm early on with a chiropractor will result in better overall movement, fewer residuals and a stronger musculoskeletal system.
Chiropractors utilize many of the things recommended by the Annals of Internal Medicine including muscle work such as myofascial release, manipulation, corrective exercises and when needed, foot orthotics as well which can level the hips and reduce the risk of future back pain episodes.
Whom you see first can make all the difference in your cost and overall outcomes for lower back spasms and lower back pain. Initial care for back spasms includes avoiding medication if possible, walking, and active care. Chiropractors are the preferred healthcare provider to see first, with the highest level of satisfaction according to Consumer Reports. Most people should improve with a short course of care from your chiropractor. If the problem has not improved at least 50% within 6-9 visits, advanced imaging and diagnostics are appropriate to determine why.
It is not appropriate or part of best practices to automatically x ray or perform an MRI on everyone initially, since these tests may lead to interventions such as injections or surgery, which according to studies are riskier and do not necessarily lead to better outcomes. Simple management is the most effective at the earliest stages of treatment and lead to the best and the safest outcome in most cases.
If you have lower back spasms, the safest and most logical approach is to see a chiropractor first.