Sunday, October 4, 2009

Back Pain Muscle Spasms - How to Deal

The two most common locations of muscle spasms are the neck and back regions. Most of us hold a lot of tension in these areas, which leads to tightness. Thus, they are the most vulnerable to stress due to relatively casual events. Such muscle pain could happen due to a chill while golfing or playing tennis, for example, or from spending too long at the computer without taking a break. (In case you are reading this online now, and wondering how often that is, most ergonomic specialists recommend standing and stretching about once an hour.)

What happens when a muscle spasms? The fibers in the muscle core contract all at once. And what causes this? The cause of back pain muscle spasms is a tensed muscle due to over extension or sudden movement. In other words, if the muscle hasn't relaxed sufficiently prior to moving or extending it, a spasm can result.

A muscle spasm is not the same thing as a muscle cramp. Both involve a sudden contraction, but a cramp releases with movement. When your back spasms, it locks up and you cannot move.

There are a number of ways you can deal with a muscle spasm: rest; temperature change; ice massage; mindful movement; and over-the-counter pain reliever.

You can relieve the strain of stressed tissues by lying down. For back pain muscle spasms, try bringing your knees slowly to your chin, then hold the position for at least a minute. If this causes you pain, however, stop and try something else.

You can rub an ice cube over the sore region using a slow, circular motion. It takes a few minutes to numb the pain. Once the area numbs and relaxes due to the cold, fresh blood rushes to the area, which helps unclench the muscle fibers. Just be sure to keep the ice moving, and use a gentle massaging motion. Of course, this works best when you have help, since you can relax completely and not concern yourself with extending your arm to reach the back or neck area.

(Only apply heat if the area is still in spasm after 72 hours, since this gives your muscles enough time for any acute pain and swelling to subside. If you want to use temperature change prior to that, experts recommend that you apply cold.)

Once you have iced the spasm, slow and gentle movement helps bring back normal circulation and coaxes muscle fibers to return to their usual patterns. Avoid too aggressive a stretch, or you could make the spasm worse.

Once any pain and swelling begin to subside -- again, probably after several days -- you can also try breaking up any left-over muscle knot, simply by pressing a thumb or other finger into the region. At this point, the idea is to continue relaxing the muscle by breaking up any residual fluid or muscle fibers.

Any over-the-counter pain reliever such as aspirin, ibuprofen, or naproxen works best on this type of pain due to the anti-inflammatory effect. Acetaminophen is less effective since it is not an anti-inflammatory.
Finally, any abrupt neck or back spasm that includes a numb sensation, tingling, or a weak feeling could indicate a ruptured disk or injury to the nerve, and it is important to have it checked out by a qualified medical professional as soon as you can.

Find out how you can treat your back pain through my easy to follow course. Find out more on Back Muscle Pain. Seth Cooper runs a site on Back Pain Muscle Spasms.

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