Back spasm symptoms

Back anatomy; public domain image (From

A muscle spasm is an uncontrollable contraction in one of your muscles. Although some muscle spasms will not produce many noticeable symptoms, back muscle spasms may lead to intense pain depending on the location of the spasm.

If the back spasm occurs near the spinal cord or other areas full of nerve endings, the spasms will cause immediate pain. Movements that affect spastic muscles will make the pain more severe and should be avoided if possible.


The back muscles (especially the lower-back lumbar muscles) experience spasms due to a variety of factors that may cause one of your discs to dislodge. These factors include acute injury to the back region during sports, tumours near the spastic muscle, nearby ligament strains and localised infections. Spasms usually occur because one of the discs in your back dislodges and butts against a nearby ligament. In response to the pain, your nearby muscles contract.

At-Rest Symptoms

Since muscle spasms cause your muscles to contract on their own, you will often experience pain even if you are not in the middle of an activity. The pain will occur mostly at the spasm site and/or the site where the disc presses against your ligaments. Pain may emanate to other regions of your back due to nerve pathways. According to the Sports Injury Bulletin, if you have a spasm, you may also feel as if you temporarily cannot move or rotate your spine.

Symptoms While Moving

Typical back spasm pain will usually become more intense upon movement. While movement of the back and spine itself will exacerbate your pain, even leg and arm movement may cause the pain to increase. If your pain worsens as you exercise or walk, sit or lie down to ease the intensity.

Warning Signs

Spasms may begin as isolated instances. If you feel sudden pain in your lower back that increases with movement, visit your doctor for an examination. Cedars- Sinai Medical Center warns that you shouldn't continue exercising if you feel spasm pain. Additional stress on your muscles may lead to bleeding and further tendon tearing. Keep track of future spasms and if they increase in frequency, talk to your doctor about possible underlying causes and additional treatment.


The most common medications for back spasms are muscle relaxants and anti-inflammatory drugs. Muscle relaxants will give you better spinal range of motion, and anti-inflammatory drugs will reduce swelling and thus ease pain. If your spasms are the result of athletics, you must refrain from sports until your doctor clears you to play again. Ice your back periodically throughout the day to control your swelling. Once your spasms begin to subside, talk to your doctor about stretches and exercises that may prevent future spasms.