A lower back spasm is one of the most agonizing of all back pain symptoms. Spasms in the lower back are often completely debilitating and leave the patient full of dread for future repeat performances. The worst moments of my life were spent being tortured by repeated and uncontrollable lumbar spasms and I will never forget the pain for as long as I live. I actually still have nightmares about it to this very day.
Imagine gut-wrenching tightening of your lower back muscles to the point where your feel as if the area will simply snap. Picture your posture being utterly destroyed, sitting, standing or even lying down. Visualize your body feeling as if it will tear itself apart. Now dare to consider the possibility that you can not stop the torment and must just be victimized by it until it finally ends. This is the reality of muscle spasms in the lumbar spine.
Back muscle spasms are characterized by uncontrollable constriction of the muscle fibers. This clenching can become so tight, that the person is literally unable to move. While most muscle contractions last a few seconds to a few minutes, many patients have lasting spasms which endure for hours or come and go unpredictably.
Spasms may be linked to movement or might simply occur even when resting in bed. The vice-like grip of a powerful spasm in the postural muscles has been described as potentially the most painful patient experience in all of clinical medicine.
Although I suffered muscle spasms on many occasions, 2 particular events stand out in my mind as particularly horrific moments in my life. There is no denying the physical agony caused by muscle spasms, but the psychological effects of this type of back pain endure far longer than the anatomical symptoms ever could.
There are many reasons why muscle spasm may occur. Back injury is a very common factor, since inflammation and neurological trauma are both sources of severe muscular contractions. Usually, back muscle spasms due to injury will subside in a few hours to a few days. It is rare for spasms to last for weeks or months due to physical injury.
Poor circulation to any area of the back is the most common source of spasm. This can occur due to structural concerns, such as vascular disease or inflammation, but typically is linked to a psychosomatic back pain syndrome using oxygen deprivation as the enforcer of a subconsciously devised distractive mechanism. This process is certainly the source of many long-term or recurrent lumbar spasms and also the underlying causation of a great number of chronic back pain conditions.
During an actual attack of muscular spasm, there is virtually nothing which can be done, except to breathe through it and try to relax. I know, it is easy to say and impossible to do. However, getting completely stressed out will only heighten the pain and prolong the episode.
Many patients with chronic back spasms find certain mindbody practices, such as transcendental meditation, to be helpful in times of severe muscular tightening.
Many patients seek medical attention for the worst cases of lower back muscle spasms and find the care provided by hospitals to be ridiculous. Typically, the patient is screened and left to sit in agony for hours before admission to an emergency room.
Once inside, the patient is dosed up with ultra-powerful back pain drugs, which certainly have effects on the mind, but barely do anything to even take the edge off the biting pain. After a few hours lying there, most patients are arbitrarily discharged and told to follow up with their doctor. And so the back pain treatment agenda begins…