I was putting the finishing touches on a presentation I had been working hard to finish all day. It had taken most of the afternoon, so I hadn’t even taken the time to get up and get a drink, walk around the office or even use the restroom!
(Please tell me I’m not the only one who does that.)
But when I stood up I felt an unbearable tightness in my back! Sharp pain shot down my lower back and into my leg, and I buckled over in pain.
Do you know what it was?
A muscle spasm.
What Causes a Muscle Spasm?
We all know how to flex our muscles – even kids will happily flex their biceps.
This can be scary.
When muscles become ridged, they contract (involuntarily) causing a muscle spasm. The fibers inside the muscles contract and tighten. This stops the blood from flowing often causing sharp and immediate pain.
Muscle spasms and muscle cramps usually affect the neck, back, legs and abs and can last for a few minutes up to weeks.
But what causes the muscle to spasm?
Bending and twisting while lifting a heavy object can cause the muscles or ligaments in the low back to become strained or to tear. When muscles become inflamed it often leads to back spasm.
Your muscles are attached to bones. When your bones move out of alignment they stretch and strain the muscles. This causes not only muscle spasm but back pain, neck pain and even sciatica when the misalignment pinches on a nerve.
2. Quick Movement
If you reached over your seat in the car at a stoplight to pick up a book your child has dropped on the floor of the back seat and feel a sharp muscle spasm in your abs or neck, that quick movement and overstitching has caused a muscle spasm.
3. Prolonged Sitting
So many of us sit at a computer or look down at our phone for long periods of time, and with more and more people working remotely, there’s not even an opportunity to get out of your chair for some good ol’ water cooler talk.
Later in the evening, or even at night, your back and neck muscles may begin to spasm. When we work long hours or feel pressured to finish something with few breaks, we unconsciously tense up our neck and shoulders.
A slouched posture weakens your neck and back muscles while causing muscle spasm and inflammation in your shoulder blades. As we age, we lose muscle mass and strength (unless we stay active and exercise) and a slouched posture only makes things worse.
5. Strenuous Activity
When muscles are overused or injured, they can go into spasm. Athletes who increase their physical activity too quickly can put stress on the muscle. Muscle spasm and sports injuries go hand-in-hand.
Muscle Spasm Treatment
If your muscles are in spasm, you don’t have to resort to drugs or shots to numb the area. There are several natural muscle spasm treatment options available – both at home and at your local chiropractic clinic.
Muscle spasm treatment will depend on the cause and whether they is a one-time occurrence or a chronic problem.
Our Kansas City chiropractors will begin a diagnosis with a brief history and physical exam to understand the circumstances surrounding the muscle spasms, when they began, how long they usually last, how often they occur and what types of activities seem to make them worse.
1. Stop What You’re Doing
When a muscle spasm starts, stop what you’re doing and gently massage the area that’s hurting. Rubbing the area relaxes the muscle and is one of the most effective forms of muscle spasm treatment.
Resting the problem area is another effective form of muscle spasm treatment, but do not completely eliminate all movement. Short walks or stretches can help to prevent stiffness.
2. Gently Stretch
Stretching can be very helpful. Stretching pulls your muscles in the opposite direction of the contraction that happens during a muscle spasm. Try to gently lengthen the affected muscle.
However, this muscle spasm treatment shouldn’t hurt. If you feel pain, stop. Hold each of your stretches for about 30 seconds.
4. See Your Kansas City Chiropractor
Our Kansas City chiropractors specialize in the mechanical functions of the body. This includes the way muscles, ligaments and bones work together to help your body bend an move as it was intended.
When joints become locked up or fixated, they don’t bend and move as you bend and move. This causes inflammation in the ligaments, tendons, muscles and nerves surrounding that joint.
Through a thorough case history and examination your chiropractor will be able to determine the true cause of your muscle spasms and prescribe a treatment plan to fix the underlying problem.
5. Perform Light Exercises
Particularly if you are experiencing back spasms, light, soft muscle spasm treatment exercises may help. However you should only do exercises when the pain has lessened or the cramping is minimal.
Do not do them if your muscle spasm is severe or very painful. If any of these exercises makes the spasm worse, stop.
- Slowly and carefully, walk around your room as you lift your knees higher than normal. Remember to keep your back straight.
- Raise both of your arms over your head. Repeat 10 times, holding them up there for 5 seconds. You may do this muscle spasm treatment exercise 3-4 times per day.
- Lie on the floor and pull one of your knees gently to your chest. Hold it for 10 seconds and then switch sides. Repeat each leg 5-10 times, and do this 2-3 times a day.
How to Prevent Muscle Spasms
The best muscle spasm treatment is prevention. Incorporate these prevention tips into your daily routine, and you just might never have to experience muscle spasms again.
1. Stay Hydrated
Muscle spasms are often associated with dehydration, so it’s essential that you keep your body hydrated, especially during hot weather or physical activity. If you know that you’ll be working hard in the heat, drink plenty of water before the activity begins.
2. Take Micro-breaks
Force yourself to take breaks throughout the day. You can even schedule micro-breaks throughout your workday to ensure you’re doing your best to prevent muscle spasms before they start.
3. Warm Up
It may feel silly at first to warm up before you help your friend move his couch down two flights of stairs or before you rake the leaves in your back yard, but when your muscles are prepared for the activity they’re expected to do they perform much better.
Take a few minutes to walk around, do a few squats or jumping jacks. You’ll be warmed up before you know it.
Kansas City’s Specialist in Muscle Spasm Treatment
Since, 1983 our team of 12 Kansas City chiropractors have provided muscle spasm treatment 7 days a week. Our doctors are specialists in the field of body mechanics.
Through chiropractic adjustments and physical therapy, we help thousands of patients each year find relief from back pain, headaches, neck pain and numerous other conditions.
Schedule an appointment online today to see if chiropractic treatment can help with your specific condition.