What Causes Muscle Spasms in the Back?

Category: Back Pain | Author: Stefano Sinicropi | Date: February 11, 2014

back muscle spasmMany people experience muscle spasms. They can be minor to severe. But what exactly causes a muscle to spasm and is a spasm cause to see your doctor?

3 Types of Muscles

There are three basic types of muscles in the human body:

  • Cardiac Muscles. Muscles in and around the heart.
  • Skeletal Muscles. These muscles are responsible for moving the extremities such as the arms and the legs.
  • Smooth Muscles. These muscles are tasked with moving internal parts of the body such as the stomach and the esophagus.

What Causes Muscle Spasms? 

A muscle spasm (also known as a muscle cramp) is a muscle contraction that occurs involuntarily without your intent. A spasm is often confused with a twitch, but the two are not identical. A twitch is an involuntary movement of a section of a muscle. You can usually see these occurring beneath your skin. Twitches are usually not painful. Spasms, on the other hand, involve entire muscles and can be extremely painful.

Spasms can be the result of any of the following:

  • Dehydration & electrolyte depletion
  • Muscle overuse (often from intense exercise routines)
  • Keeping a muscle in the same position for too long

Muscle spasms can also be more prevalent in patients with multiple sclerosis or other nervous system disorders.

Treatment for Muscle Spasms

As with many conditions, the best treatment for muscle spasms is prevention. Keeping the body hydrated is the best way to avoid spasms. Stretching prior to any physical activity is also a good prevention tip.

Pain relief medications can also help in managing any pain associated with muscle spasms.

Generally, muscle spasms resolve quickly. Even though they can be quite painful, they will usually get better with conservative home treatments. However, if you are having spasms that continue over an extended period of time, and they do not resolve with home remedies, it is time to see your doctor to identify any underlying causes.

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