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AU Registered Medical Device
12-month warranty
Same day dispatch
Professionally endorsed

Lower Back Spasms: Causes and Treatments

A man suffering from lower back pain.

Lower back spasms are the most common back pain condition one will experience. Back spasms can start without any warning. It may begin as a mild twitch to an intense pain that prevents you from sitting, standing or moving comfortably. The most common cause is the tightening of muscle tissues which often occurs as a result of some other mechanical stress. Suggested treatments for this condition may include gentle stretching, medications, physical therapy, and more.

Preventing spasms from occurring is the best strategy. Living a healthy lifestyle will drastically reduce the chances of spasms or other back pain. Consistent exercise and stretching keep the body in shape. Proper diet and hydration help the body perform its functions. Good posture is critical as well. This article will present the reasons for back spasms, their treatments, and ways to prevent them from happening.

Causes of Lower Back Spasms

As mentioned, lower back spasms are caused by tight muscle tissue. Most often, it is a result of some mechanical stress. This stress may include lumbar strains, lumbar disc herniations, low back arthritis, and spinal stenosis. Additionally, if your back is overused, and you have a poor sitting or standing posture, this may cause stress on the lower back. 

Non-mechanical causes, on the other hand, may include fibromyalgia, emotional stress, depression, and anxiety. Another contributing factor is if you do not exercise or are not physically active. 

Some risk factors that increase the chances of back spasms are age, emotional stress and psychological conditions. If you lift heavy weights regularly, it may also be a high risk. Moreover, if you are smoking, overweight and have a bone-weakening disease condition, it is most likely for you to have low back spasms. Overall, if you have a condition that puts strain and stress on your spine, there may be a risk of you having back spasms.


  • Intense, sudden pain in the lower back.
  • Muscle stiffness and tightness in the affected area.
  • Inability to move or stand up straight due to pain.
  • Involuntary contractions in the lower back.
  • Sharp, shooting pain that may radiate to the buttocks or legs.
  • Limited range of motion and difficulty performing regular activities.
  • Sensation of knots or lumps in the back muscles.
  • Increased pain with certain movements or positions.
  • Muscle weakness in the lower back and legs.
  • Tenderness and soreness in the affected muscles.
  • Numbness or tingling sensations in the lower back or legs.
  • Persistent discomfort even when at rest.

A woman using iTENS on her lower back.

Treatments for Lower Back Spasms

Lower back spasms are being treated either by surgical or non-surgical treatments. Spinal surgery may be needed for severe lower back pain cases that do not get better after six to twelve weeks of non-surgical treatment. This includes microdiscectomy, artificial disc replacement or lumbar spinal fusion. 

A doctor may recommend self-care options for mild cases. Self-care options are medications, steroidal injections, ice or heat therapy, physical therapy and manual manipulation. For the ice or heat therapy, you can apply it to your skin for 20 to 30 minutes, and reapply after 20 to 30 minutes. Alternating these two can improve circulation and the incoming flow of nutrients for healed injured tissues.

Your healthcare provider may also advise you on physical therapy. This is where you can learn relaxation techniques and back muscle stretches. Another form of therapy for pain relief is Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS) therapy. It provides a non-invasive treatment method. TENS can be used in conjunction with physical therapy to help get through the healing process.

Using TENS for Lower Back

A TENS machine, like iTENS, sends electrical pulses to nerves via electrode pads connected to the body. These pulses induce the release of endorphins while also cutting off pain signals from going to the brain. The combined effect reduces pain in the targeted area, helping the user to relax.

TENS therapy is non-invasive and easy to use. It can help treat back issues and pain, and its mobility makes it a versatile tool. A person can bring their TENS machine with them wherever they go and quickly set it up whenever they feel the need. TENS is usable multiple times throughout the day, as needed.

A woman exercising in the gym.

How to Prevent Lower Back Spasms

Treatment without prevention is simply unsustainable. Prevention of lower back spasms is important. Thankfully, there are several ways to stop them from happening. Firstly, try to do postural correction techniques. Observe correct posture when you walk, sit, and stand. Even while you are sleeping, do not lie down in a weird position. In addition to that, you can utilise proper lifting techniques. Keep a wide base of support, squat, keep a good posture and lift slowly. 

Secondly, try to engage in aerobic exercise or perform daily stretching and exercises for strengthening your core and back muscles. Practice getting up and stretching every 30 minutes if you have work that requires sitting for a long period of time. Thirdly, you can perform meditation or other stress management techniques.

Finally, try to start living a healthy and active lifestyle. Quit smoking, remain well-hydrated throughout the day, and eat nutritious food. Simple changes in your lifestyle can have a drastic effect on your low back spasms. You can also work closely with your personal trainer, physical therapist or doctor to help you get started on the road to prevent back spasms.

Additional Preventive Techniques

Staying at a healthy weight is key to preventing spasms. The harder the back has to work to support your body, the more likely it is to sustain an injury or feel stress. A good exercise regime is the perfect way to keep strong and at a good weight.

Some medications may make you more susceptible to spasms as well. Be sure to review all possible side effects before starting a medication. If you are already on medication, consult with a doctor before starting anything over-the-counter. Even if it is safe on its own, it may react differently when mixed with other medicine.


Lower back spasms can be a frightening affliction. Their range of effects can vary, from mild irritation to debilitating pain. Pain can be sudden and at times, it radiates to other parts of your body. There are many causes and reasons why you would experience back spasms such as an inactive lifestyle, stress, mechanical stress and some underlying conditions. However, there are also treatments available. These include oral medications, surgery for serious cases, TENS therapy, and other self-care options.

While it is possible to treat, it is still better to prevent it. Back pain can take a while to cure, so it is best to never reach that stage if possible. Fortunately, prevention methods are simple to follow. Living a healthy lifestyle is a basic way to maintain good back condition. Consistent exercise, proper diet and hydration, and good posture will keep someone’s back strong and free of pain.

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