Dear Ask The Doctor: Several times a year I throw out my lower back on the right side just above my hip. I'm sure it's a muscle spasm sitting cause tightening and stiffing with pain. I often hurt myself doing silly thing sure as drying my feet, putting on socks, or sneezing the wrong way. The spasms last for days but the ongoing spasm pain is not very intense. I can ease the pain by standing or lying on the floor. I also ease the pain by lying on tennis ball, massage, and stretching. Do you know what this muscle is called? I would like to research it so I can do exercises to specifically target that area and muscle.
Dear Bill: The back muscles act as a whole system, arranged in basically three layers: superficial, intermediate and deep. The deep muscles of the back (intrinsic muscles) are responsible for keeping the body in the erect position during the waking hours, whether sitting or standing. You can imagine the amount of work that is placed on these muscles and why one of the population's most annoying medical problems is a painful back. Muscle spasms in the back can often be caused by a twisting or strain on one of the back muscles, which in turn causes involuntary muscle contractions. Although this often occurs when tense, tight back muscles are present; it can happen in any circumstance. As a result of the contraction people often complain of having symptoms of either a "locked" back, or a "knot" in their back. The most common causes of muscle spasms in the back: sneeze, cough, lifting heavy objects, muscle overuse, direct trauma, dehydration. Besides the traditional treatment (ice, AINEs, stretch) is very important that you choose the right mattress that properly support the spine and help to relieve the stress of the muscles and joints of the back. Also try to find the right chair or seat insert cushion. Consult with your doctor which exercises are right for your particular case, but in general the yoga, Tai-Chi and certain meditation techniques are very helpful in helping to relax your back. A back muscle spasm can be caused by several medical conditions. If pain persists or is chronic, you should talk to your doctor to discuss treatment options.