View Full Version : Back Spasms

Jonathan Kessler
11-13-2004, 06:50 PM
Anyone here have experience dealing with back spasms? I am having a heck of a time getting them to stop, and it's playing havoc with my training.
I am getting chiropractic, some massage, acupuncture, using hot baths, and I still can't shake them. I pushed too hard (kept going back to BJJ) initially, which seems to have set up this "stuck" cycle. I've never encountered a cycle like this that keeps going and going.
Anyone successfully dealt with this?

Brian Hand
11-14-2004, 06:56 AM
Johnathan, back spasms are a pretty common thing. You're right about that viscious cycle, it can be tough to break. The spasm is considered a guarding response from the muscles, the muscles tighten to limit motion like a natural splint. Not one of mother nature's better efforts in my opinion.

The viscious cycle is like this: some disc irritation or injury occurs, the muscles tighten up in response, the tension keeps the back out of whack, which prevents the disc from healing, to which the body responds with - more spasm.

Here are some therapies I have found helpful:

-ice - to keep the circulation in the muscle up, minimizing weakening during spasm
-stretching, light movement, as tolerated pain free - reverse back extentions on physio ball, hip flexor and hamstring stretches
-electrical muscle stimulation - works like magic for me - I wouldn't see a chiro who doesn't have this available
-from an M.D., prescription for NSAIDs and muscle relaxants - makes sense but I personally don't like to deal with the side effects, although I will take OTC stuff and a couple extra glasses of wine

I haven't tried accupuncture and I've never gotten relief for a spasm from massage, although it does feel nice.

Of course if you don't rest it when you need to, you can defeat all the therapy in the world.

Some (many) chiropractors insist on trying to bull through spasms to adjust your spine. Trying to do adjust a strong person with tight muscles, especially a rotational / twisting type adjustment, just doesn't make any sense to me. It can and often will make the disc injury worse. I don't want to overstep here, this is just my opinion, but if a chiropractor wants to twist my spine when I'm in spasm, I'd refuse the treatment and probably find another doctor.

All that therapy can help resolve the spasm and allow the injury to heal. However if there is some underlying issue that is setting you up for the injury it still needs to be resolved.

Ron Nelson
11-29-2004, 12:46 PM
It may be too late, but I found that trigger point therapy can relieve a spasm within a day or so. That and 600-1200mg of iboprofen!

John MacLaren
12-02-2004, 04:24 PM
can you be a bit more specific about where your backis having spasms and during what movements and how frequently? There are many muscles in the back as you know and a tremendous amount of nerve response back there so the how, why and wheres of it all make a big difference in training and recovery.

Jonathan Kessler
12-02-2004, 10:17 PM
Well, this week I *seem* to have gotten past the spasms - a full week without them. My back felt positively normal yesterday.
They were in the lower spinae erectors, and possibly in the quadratus lumborum (in other words, sometimes right next to my spine, other times out by my outer iliac crest).
Ice has been helpful, along with a lot of other stuff (I am happy to use the shotgun approach, as long as something works).
I am easing back into bodyweight squats and my wife will have me trying very light hang cleans tomorrow. Did my first attempt at a handstand (on the wall) since my shoulder surgery this summer.
It feels amazingly good to be getting back into health, and I'm doing something novel by not pushing it too fast this time.