About a week ago my lower back started locking up

Patient

Q: About a week ago my lower back started locking up when I bend over. I bent to put dishes in the dishwasher and could stand up straight on my own. Its tight and spasmy. Its also causing mild abdominal cramping. What is this?

Doctor

A:   Hi.
Thanks for your query.
Noted your history of the lower back being tight and spasmy; started locking up on bending about a week ago. I think this started when you bent over to put dishes in the dishwasher and could stand up straight on your own; there is mild abdominal cramping too.

The abdominal cramping can be just a reflex phenomenon secondary to low back muscle spasms, if there are no other symptoms related to the GI like nausea, vomiting, constipation or loose stools.

As you may please know, the low back is the area that acts as a fulcrum for the upper part of the body. It transmits the weight, movement and shocks, vibrations through this part to the ground.
When you bend over the back muscles support the whole weight and do not allow the upper part of the body to fall forwards- this is possible by a very strong pull on the muscles and pull is still increased more on when you try to lift up the upper body- it is actually these muscles which pull upper part back to being straight.
This is the moment when either of or muscles acting go into soreness and cause pain.

I would advise you the following:

Stop bending at all. Even a single act is detrimental for the recovery.
Bed rest in a bed where all the back muscles can go into complete relaxation.
Medications:
In the form of painkillers to stop the pain> spasm > pain > spasm vicious cycle is not allowing the internal healing.
The Muscle relaxant and anti-inflammatory - may need a prescription.
Local rubefacient liniments- this can be any OTC which cause local warmth.
Mild laxative if there is constipation. It is better to consult an Orthopedic Surgeon for clinical evaluation, examination and investigations if required and to get a proper prescription.

I hope this answer helps you to get a proper diagnosis, and get a proper further treatment. Please feel free to ask for more or if you need further clarifications or if you feel there is a gap of communication.

Comments / Follow Ups

Patient: Are there any stretches I can do to help elongate and relax the lower back?
Doctor: This is the reason I have explained in details the cause and effect above.
Please do not try anything like this as it can cause more problems.

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