GET ACTIVE COLUMN: Advice on muscle spasms

Warren Hutson Osteopath, Buxton.
Warren Hutson Osteopath, Buxton.

Warren Hutson, of Buxton Osteopath, gives advice on avoiding and treating muscle spasms in his latest ‘Get Active’ column.

A muscle spasm can be defined as an acute involuntary and uncontrolled contraction of muscle tissue.

Most of us may be familiar with the sensation of muscle cramps such as hamstrings that usually occur due to fatigue in the affected muscles.

These type of cramps (a form of spasm) are usually caused by related dehydration and fatigue caused by an electrolyte imbalance.

These can be debilitating and painful and usually are resolved by vigorous stretching and rehydration.

Back spasms are very rarely this type of problem. A sudden ill-directed movement that causes a muscle to spasm, for example if someone is bent over and sneezes, they may cause a sudden spasm usually causes spasms in the major back muscles in the upper back.

Or a person may attempt to lift a heavy weight and they feel the low back muscles go into spasm.

More often than not a spasm is a warning sign that something is waiting to become a problem.

For example, if someone tweaks a disc then the muscles in the back areas will be used as a protective mechanism.

If the spasm is a true and genuine spasm caused by the uncontrolled contraction of the muscle(s), the there are a number of things a therapist can do to relieve it.

If the spasm is the primary cause of the disability then the patient may need to be referred to a doctor for muscle relaxants or anti-inflammatories.

The more therapist-orientated interactions are directed at relieving the spasm by ways of gentle soft tissue massage, ultrasound therapy and gentle stretching techniques.

A gentle stretching exercise that a person could try is lying on the affected side and prop up on the elbow slowly let the body sink towards the floor.

This can be held for a count of 5-10 then released for a count of 15-20 and the repeated about five times twice hourly.

For more, visit