Muscle spasms can be severe, but short lived if treated.
There are two main kinds we see in clinic:
- Those that accompany a joint problem in the spine
- Those that happen because the person overloaded the muscle, usually because of a sudden and very strong contraction or a totally unexpected movement which catches the body ‘unprepared.’In the first instance the patient feels there’s a problem with one of the joints in the neck or back. The usual description is that the back feels “out”. With this even small movements can create a sudden severe spasm. This goes quickly once the joints are freed.
A case study - spasms associated with a joint dysfunction
A woman in her 40’s complained of low back spasms with movement. She’d just woken on morning with a sore low back on one side and couldn’t identify anything she’d done to cause it.
It was uncomfortable to get in and out of chairs, crouch or bend, and she had to use her arms to help raise or lower herself to sit or get up. When asked to do some simple movements, she could hardly bend her low back in any direction without pain.
But what was most revealing was feeling how each of the bones of her low back moved. Most of the mid and upper vertebrae felt rigid with very little of the normal spring one would expect when testing each individual bone for movement.
Two manipulations in the first treatment of the mid and upper lumbar area were enough for her to feel spasm free and able to stand and walk more normally.
Cases like this, with no obvious cause, are actually common. And in most the finding is the same – a generalized stiffness, not just at one point, which results in the spine being less able to perform normal movements without strain.
Quite often this strain will result at the bottom of the spine, even though the stiffness is found higher up.
Case study - spasms from sudden overloading of a muscle
A builder in his mid forties slipped in the mud whilst wearing jandals – twice in quick succession, his feet going suddenly out forward from under him. However, he managed to catch himself and not fall to the ground. Whilst there was no pain at the moment of the slip, it subsequently developed in the left buttock and prevented him from standing properly and moving his left leg. The pain was severe enough to be rated an 8 out of 10 – which is something for a builder!
One session of soft tissue work to the affected muscle was sufficient to get rid of his symptoms so that he could do normal things without pain.