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The Chiropractor’s Guide to Back Spasms

Back spasms can be compared to a Charley horse in the back. These are a common complaint in doctors’ clinics throughout the country. Spasms can accompany back pain and neck pain, they can be the result of a traumatic event, like a slip and fall accident or an automobile accident. Here is why they occur and what to do about them.

stock photo trapezius anatomy muscles isolated on white d illustration

Back Spasms

A back spasm is an involuntary and sustained contraction of one or more muscles of the spine. Spasms can occur without pain when the muscle/s shift, and pulse. But it’s when pain accompanies the spasm that it can become an issue that can lead to a chronic condition.

Example: Runners get the feeling of having a Charley horse in the calf muscle. Having a back spasm is the same. Spinal muscle spasms could be an indication of something serious, like a micro tear around a spinal disc that can generate inflammation to cause the muscles to tense up.

However, with most cases, a back muscle spasm is a symptom of a mild muscle injury, like a sprain. It can be hard to diagnose the pathology of a muscle spasm. One theory is that if there is a noxious stimulus coursing through the body, specifically the back, it can disrupt/disturb the muscles. When this happens the muscles brace/bunch up together to protect the spine. Here’s are five muscle spasm types that can cause back and neck pain.

Cervical Spine

If there is a spasm in the neck, it’s more than likely a contraction of the trapezius muscle. This is the muscle group that runs down the neck into the middle or thoracic spine/back.

neck anatomy
Related Posts

Back spasms in the cervical spine could indicate a contraction of the sternocleidomastoid. This is located at the base of the skull on both sides of the head. When these muscles spasm, the pain is usually localized or in one area that leads to muscle irritation. However, if the spasm is a symptom of underlying inflammation or nerve irritation, then the pain could radiate and spread down.

Thoracic Spine

The trapezius starts at the neck to the last vertebra of the thoracic spine or the middle-back. Therefore, a back spasm can affect the neck as well as the middle of the back as well. Spasms in the midback can also result from a contraction of the rhomboid muscle. These connect the shoulder blades to the rib cage and spine.

Because there is less movement in the middle-back, the muscles in this area are less likely to spasm, compared to the cervical/neck area and the lumbar/low area.

Lumbar Spine

Spasms in the lower back occur from a contraction of the erector spinae muscles. These are the large group of stabilizing muscles that are on either side of the spine or the latissimus dorsi.

Lats Graphic

These muscles are commonly referred to as lats. They are one of the largest muscle groups in the body and cover the middle and lower back.

Relieving Spasms

Treatment for muscle spasms depends on how the injury originated. A full medical history is crucial for a doctor, spine specialist, or chiropractor to be able to look at all the angles in determining and diagnosing the root cause.

It could be from just leaning over and picking up a box to sleeping in an improper/uncomfortable position. This type of pain is less concerning as it is more than likely a sprain or strain, and can be treated rather quickly.

However, if the spasms started after being involved in an automobile accident or falling pretty hard, then there could be serious damage to the area. Back spasms that occur after these types of situations require an immediate full neurologic and muscular examination. This along with advanced imaging, like an MRI.

11860 Vista Del Sol, Ste. 128 The Chiropractors Guide to Back Spasms

Specialists

A spine specialist or chiropractor wants to make sure they’re not missing any underlying injuries or instabilities of the spine that would require extensive and possible invasive treatment. Red flag situations include osteoporosis, which is the loss of bone mass or ankylosing spondylitis, which is a form of arthritis that mainly affects the spine.

  • Osteoporosis can cause an underlying compression fracture.
  • Ankylosing spondylitis can cause parts of the spine to fuse together.

Both underlying conditions can cause muscle spasms. However, conservative treatment for most cases is all that is usually needed to relieve muscle spasms of the spine. These include:

  • Anti-inflammation medications and creams
  • Chiropractic manipulation to improve spinal muscles range of motion
  • Heat and ice application
  • Light activities/exercises like walking that don’t include any bending, twisting, and lifting
  • Massage therapy
  • Physical therapy
  • Therapeutic water exercise rehabilitation program
  • Ultrasound
  • Wearing a soft collar for cervical spasms
11860 Vista Del Sol, Ste. 128 The Chiropractors Guide to Back Spasms

If results do not improve within four to six weeks of conservative treatment, then an MRI or other type of scan of the area will be needed.

All that said preventing back spasms is the way to go. We’ve all heard the phrase to be heart-healthy, which concerns cardiovascular health. Now it’s about being spine healthy. Keeping the abdominal muscles, lumbar extensors, and the erector spinae muscles fit is the key. This can be accomplished with regular stretching and core exercises. Also doing yoga and Pilates will go a long way in minimizing muscle spasms and preventing injuries.

11860 Vista Del Sol, Ste. 128 The Chiropractors Guide to Back Spasms

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The information herein on "The Chiropractor's Guide to Back Spasms" is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional, licensed physician, and is not medical advice. We encourage you to make your own health care decisions based on your research and partnership with a qualified health care professional.

Our information scope is limited to chiropractic, musculoskeletal, physical medicines, wellness, sensitive health issues, functional medicine articles, topics, and discussions. We provide and present clinical collaboration with specialists from a wide array of disciplines. Each specialist is governed by their professional scope of practice and their jurisdiction of licensure. We use functional health & wellness protocols to treat and support care for the injuries or disorders of the musculoskeletal system.

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We understand that we cover matters that require an additional explanation of how it may assist in a particular care plan or treatment protocol; therefore, to further discuss the subject matter above, please feel free to ask Dr. Alex Jimenez or contact us at 915-850-0900.

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email: coach@elpasofunctionalmedicine.com

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Disclaimer *

The information herein is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional, licensed physician, and is not medical advice. We encourage you to make your own health care decisions based on your research and partnership with a qualified health care professional. Our information scope is limited to chiropractic, musculoskeletal, physical medicines, wellness, sensitive health issues, functional medicine articles, topics, and discussions. We provide and present clinical collaboration with specialists from a wide array of disciplines. Each specialist is governed by their professional scope of practice and their jurisdiction of licensure. We use functional health & wellness protocols to treat and support care for the injuries or disorders of the musculoskeletal system. Our videos, posts, topics, subjects, and insights cover clinical matters, issues, and topics that relate to and support, directly or indirectly, our clinical scope of practice.* Our office has made a reasonable attempt to provide supportive citations and has identified the relevant research study or studies supporting our posts. We provide copies of supporting research studies available to regulatory boards and the public upon request.

We understand that we cover matters that require an additional explanation of how it may assist in a particular care plan or treatment protocol; therefore, to further discuss the subject matter above, please feel free to ask Dr. Alex Jimenez or contact us at 915-850-0900.

Dr. Alex Jimenez DC, MSACP, CCST, IFMCP*, CIFM*, ATN*

email: coach@elpasofunctionalmedicine.com

phone: 915-850-0900

Licensed in Texas & New Mexico *

Post Disclaimer

Professional Scope of Practice *

The information herein on "The Chiropractor's Guide to Back Spasms" is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional, licensed physician, and is not medical advice. We encourage you to make your own health care decisions based on your research and partnership with a qualified health care professional.

Our information scope is limited to chiropractic, musculoskeletal, physical medicines, wellness, sensitive health issues, functional medicine articles, topics, and discussions. We provide and present clinical collaboration with specialists from a wide array of disciplines. Each specialist is governed by their professional scope of practice and their jurisdiction of licensure. We use functional health & wellness protocols to treat and support care for the injuries or disorders of the musculoskeletal system.

Our videos, posts, topics, subjects, and insights cover clinical matters, issues, and topics that relate to and support, directly or indirectly, our clinical scope of practice.*

Our office has made a reasonable attempt to provide supportive citations and has identified the relevant research study or studies supporting our posts. We provide copies of supporting research studies available to regulatory boards and the public upon request.

We understand that we cover matters that require an additional explanation of how it may assist in a particular care plan or treatment protocol; therefore, to further discuss the subject matter above, please feel free to ask Dr. Alex Jimenez or contact us at 915-850-0900.

We are here to help you and your family.

Blessings

Dr. Alex Jimenez DC, MSACP, CCST, IFMCP*, CIFM*, ATN*

email: coach@elpasofunctionalmedicine.com

Licensed in: Texas & New Mexico*