How Do I Treat Back Cramps?

Article Details
  • Written By: Megan Shoop
  • Edited By: Michelle Arevalo
  • Last Modified Date: 22 April 2018
  • Copyright Protected:
    2003-2018
    Conjecture Corporation
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Muscle cramps in your upper and lower back may be caused by straining the muscles from lifting heavy objects improperly. You may also have trouble with back cramps if you lead a mainly sedentary lifestyle or don’t exercise all of your muscles properly. When dealing with back cramps, it is always best to seek a health provider’s advice before treating them yourself. Ice, pain relievers, heat, and massage may be combined to relieve back cramps and help keep them from coming back. You should always speak to a doctor before beginning a treatment regimen.

Most back cramps are caused by muscles pressing tightly against each other, which can cause a spasm or strain. In most cases, you can use an ice pack and take some mild pain relievers to help dull this discomfort. Ice may be placed in a plastic bag, or a food-safe ice pack can be wrapped in a towel, and held against the area. You should sit up and use a loosely buckled belt to hold the pack in place. Don’t lie down on the pack because if the cold gets too intense, you could cause tissue damage. Applying the ice pack directly to bare skin is also a bad idea as this could cause frostbite.

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Leave the ice pack in place for no more than 10 minutes. You may also take a dose of ibuprofen, aspirin, or acetaminophen before applying the ice pack to help reduce the pain while the ice numbs the area. Apply the cold pack for that short time, until the area starts to feel better. Never sleep with a cold pack against your body.

After about a day of ice therapy, you may begin to use heat on the area to help the muscles relax. An electric heating pad or a microwavable heat pack may be held against the area, also for 10 minutes at a time, just like the ice. When the area is warm, you may gently massage it with your fingertips, or get a friend or relative to do this for you. Your health care provider can show you how to massage the muscles so you don’t injure them further.

When the back cramps are gone, it is important to keep the muscles in the area healthy. Stretch your back before any kind of workout, and make sure you exercise the area properly, on a regular basis, to keep it flexible and strong. Weak back muscles are more likely to become injured and hurt because they can’t support your body. Strong muscles are firm, hold your body straight easily, and generally are not painful.

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