If you’ve been struggling with back spasms, you’re not alone. You’re actually part of 39% American adults[1] with the same problem. And it’s a problem that’s not only affecting the US, but the entire world. Here’s the thing – 619 million people around the world actually struggle with back pain.

And in just the next 30 years, the figure’s expected to go up to 843 million[2]. Your struggle doesn’t just affect your physical abilities. Downtime from work is costing the economy and could even be eating into your paycheck every month. Not sure why you’ve got these spasms? Well, let’s explore the causes, symptoms, and treatments.

What are back spasms?

If you’ve got experience with back pain, then you’ll be able to testify to the fact that it can be quite disabling. It’s also something that can happen because of different reasons.

One such reason relates to muscle spam in the back. When this happens, the problem lies with the muscles located in your back. They may tense up and feel pain. Sometimes, it’s not such a big problem, with just a mild sensation. However, back pain caused by these spasms can be severe sometimes, especially when it’s caused by contractions in your muscle tissue.

In most cases, back spasms aren’t really serious. But, knowing when to see a doctor is really important. This can help you get an early diagnosis for something more serious causing these spasms in your back.

How do back spasms start?

There isn’t really one specific answer – as it depends on why you’ve got spasms. A poor posture is a very common issue, but you won’t necessarily have these spasms right away. They start to happen as poor posture causes problems with the muscle tissue in your back. If you’re overweight, then the excess weight in your body puts extra stress on your back muscles. This is another example of how these spasms can develop over time. As the weight further increases, you’re more likely to note a worsening of the spasms you experience.

With this said, note that there are cases where back spasms actually start without any warning. Injuring muscles in your back is a good example of this particular scenario.

What causes back spasms?

Not sure what causes back spasms? Well, it’s something that needs a somewhat personal approach. You’ll have to look at your life. Keep this in mind: they can happen at any time. However, educate yourself about common causes.

  • Living a sedentary lifestyle? Then you’re not using your back muscles regularly. This can actually be a cause of spasms in your back.
  • The opposite can also be true. If you’re overusing your back muscles and placing too much strain on them, then spasms can happen.
  • Not drinking enough water is also something that can cause back pain and cramps.

  • If you’re going through a stressful time or have anxiety[3], the tension these mental health problems cause can affect your muscles.
  • Trauma is also a likely cause. If you’ve suffered a fall or been involved in an accident, then there’s a chance this is the reason for the back spasms.

While these causes are common, take note that sometimes it’s a sign of an underlying problem. If it’s a disease, then it could be things like infection, gallstones, kidney stones, and even a condition called ankylosing spondylitis.

What are the symptoms of back spasms?

You may wonder what back spasms feel like and how they compare to things like joint pain. Pain and stiffness are common symptoms that you’ll experience if you have spasms in your back muscles. The pain may feel mild but can also be disabling and crippling in some cases. Some people describe it as a sharp pain.

The spasms themselves are not necessarily harmful, but take not of any other symptoms you have. This could signal something serious.

If you have any of these symptoms in addition to the spasms, then it’s a sign you should see your doctor:

  • Weakness in your legs or arms.
  • Problems maintaining your own balance.
  • Noticing that you do not have a sense of feeling in your limbs.
  • Problems with your bowel and bladder control.

If the pain spreads to other parts of your body, then it’s also a good idea to see your doctor. A physical exam from them can help you get a better idea of what’s going on. They can also determine if it’s something concerning – and order the right tests if they expect an underlying condition.

Symptoms of back spasms

What are the risk factors for back spasms?

A couple of things increase your risk for back spasms. If you’re aware of your risk, then you’ll get a chance to take action – and that’s where prevention would also start. Your age matters as well. If you’re in your 20s, then your risk is lower than someone in their 60s – but, note that this doesn’t mean you’ll never have back spasms while you’re young!

If you’ve got a disease that weakens your bones, it’s another risk factor to keep in mind.

Other things that can also play a part as risk factors include:

  • Abdominal muscles that are weak
  • A poor posture, especially when sitting
  • Being overweight or obese
  • Lifting heavy objects regularly

Okay, these are common causes – but it could be a disease too! If you’ve got arthritis, then it could cause back pain. That’s when the arthritis affects your back, of course. Of course, this is just one example. There are other conditions that can affect your back too.

How to prevent back spasms

Prevention starts with understanding why back spasms can happen. So, know what the risk factor is for you. Learn about the causes. You’ll be able to use this as a starting point. Now, when you know this, you can start with prevention steps.

Begin with your posture. If you want to avoid back cramps, you have to ensure you use a proper posture when you sit. Focus on things like the height of a monitor if you’re in front of a computer. Your shoulders should be relaxed. Using ergonomic furniture can also be a big help.

If you’re overweight, then work on this. Losing weight can be a great way to reduce your risk of back pain. Whether you’re worried about lower or upper back spasms, weight loss has been shown to play a role in preventing these problems if you have excess weight.

When lifting heavy objects, don’t put all the pressure on your back muscles. It’s also important to consider how active you are. Sure, overusing your back muscles can cause spasms. But, if you’re sedentary all the time, it’s also something that can affect these muscles. Try to implement an exercise plan that effectively stretches your back muscles. At the same time, when doing exercise, make sure you target your core too. Remember that there are muscles in your abdomen that should provide support for your back – if they are weak, you’re at a greater risk of having back spasms, cramps, and pain.

Treatment options for back spasms

Treatment should be personalized, as it should be based on why you are experiencing these spasms. You can begin with a couple of home remedies. Rest is really important, as it gives your body time to recover and heal. This is a good choice if you have an injury. You can also apply an ice pack or heat pad onto your back to provide you with further relief.

There are over-the-counter drugs that you can use to help reduce your symptoms. No steroidal anti-inflammatory medication can help with pain and inflammation, two common symptoms you’ll experience. Ibuprofen, aspirin, and naproxen are good examples. You can also use a muscle relaxant.

If these treatments don’t work, then you should see your doctor. They can do a physical exam. It helps them get a better idea of what is going on. Your doctor may order a couple of tests, too, such as imaging tests. These tests allow them to get a clearer view of why you’re experiencing these symptoms.

Apart from prescription medication, physical therapy is also a good choice. Your doctor can refer to you a physical therapist. They’ll be able to help you understand what steps you can take to improve your symptoms and to relax your muscles.

Now, if your doctor notices something that it’s actually symptoms of an underlying condition, then they’ll have to give you the right treatment. If there’s an infection, then antibiotics may help. That’s just one example, of course. A specialist can also help in this case – especially if you’re struggling with a disease that requires long-term treatment.

Treatment options for back spasms

Frequently asked questions

How long does it take for back spasms to go away?

That depends on why you have them. Most people recover from back spasms in about four weeks. If there’s an underlying problem, you’ll need to address it before these spasms will start to clear up.

What is the best exercise for back spasms?

Pelvic tilt, knee to chest stretches, a lower back stretch, and the standing hamstring stretch - these are great options if you’re looking to take care of back spasms through exercise.

What natural remedy is good for muscle spasms?

Rest is good. Hot and cold therapy also helps. If you look at a Flexoplex review, you’ll notice that some natural supplements can also give you a longer-term solution when you’re struggling with pain.

Can mental stress cause back spasms?

Yes. You often don’t really link mental stress to pain. But, it’s been shown that a lot of stress causes your muscles to tense up. When this happens, you can get a back spasm. It’s not the only cause, but definitely one to keep in mind.


Back spasms can really take a toll on your life. It’s something that even makes some people miss work. When you’ve got a back spasm, the first step is to find out why. If you’re sedentary, overweight, lift heavy objects, or overwork your back muscles – these can all be risk factors. Once you identify why you’ve got the spasms, you can work on a treatment plan. But, if it’s really bad, consult your doctor – they can do a few tests and perform a physical exam.