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How Long Do Back Spasms Last?

Dr. Sisson / March 17, 2023

Luckily, back spasms usually only last a few days, but those few days are agony.

Furthermore, there are people who go on to have chronic back spasms that last months or years.

What Causes Back Spasms?

There are a few different things that can cause a spasm or a tightening up of the muscle in your back.

It can be after an acute injury, like bending down to pick something up and throwing out your back.

Or, lower back spasms can be caused by something that comes on a little bit more gradually.

For example, if you're really active and you're doing something you're not accustomed to, then you wake up the next morning, you may find out that your back muscles have tightened up.

Then, when you stand up, and gravity starts pushing down on your spine, you may get a lower back spasm.

Additionally, if you're in a sustained bending position for a long period of time, such as working in the yard, your back muscles may spasm afterwards.

Or, if you fall asleep on the couch where you're kind of in an awkward position, that sustained position of being bent to one side can cause a spasm of your back on one side of your back when you finally wake up.

And finally, just doing a new activity that you're not accustomed to can give you a back spasm from your muscles working in a way that they're not accustomed to.

Regardless of the cause though, you're probably more concerned with finding out how you can keep your lower back spasms from lasting for a long time.

Here's how:

Back Spasm Treatment

If you Google "back spasm treatment," you'll probably find a lot of general advice such as:

  • Rest
  • Take anti-inflammatories
  • Use ice or heat

And there's nothing wrong with that information.  All of those things can help back spasms to some extent.

But they really don't address the underlying cause of the back spasm.

Which means once you're done resting, icing, and taking anti-inflammatories, you're no better off than you were BEFORE you injured your back.

However, if you don't prefer having to rest and rely on anti-inflammatories, there are some other things that you can do so that your back spasms don't last as long.

What Are Some Other Back Spasm Treatments?

In order to get your back spasms to go away faster, you really need to get the muscles that are tight and stiff to relax.

Don't worry, no muscle relaxers needed.

Deep Breathing To Relax Back Spasms

Deep breathing, or diaphragmatic breathing, can be really helpful for back spasm.

Try these steps to help your back spasms:

  1. Lie down on your back with your knees bent so that your spine is unloaded. Since gravity isn't pushing down on you, your back muscles don't have to work hard to support your spine against gravity.
  2. Practice deep breathing by making your belly rise as you're breathing in. Then let your belly fall as you're breathing out.
  3. Repeat this process for five to ten minutes
  4. Just let your belly rise and fall. You don't have to think too much about breathing.  Air will flow in and out of your lungs naturally as your belly rises and falls.

Physical Therapy For Lower Back Spasms

Additionally, getting physical therapy for your lower back spasms can help your relieve your pain and get back to the activities you enjoy faster.

Now you might ask: 

Why would I need physical therapy if you just gave me all of the exercises I need?

And the answer to that is: 

We like to spend our time with our patients working on the things that REALLY help get them better and keep them better.

(Spoiler alert, it's not exercises.) 

As I mentioned earlier in the article, we believe in addressing the root cause of the problem so that you don't keep getting recurrent episodes of back pain in the future.

(Our clients appreciate that too.)

Unsure of getting physical therapy for your spasms? We have a free phone consultation or give us a call at (804) 493-3256 to see if our services are right for you!