Paraspinal Muscle Spasm- Causes, Symptoms & Treatment

Medically Reviewed By : Dr  Sravya, MBBS, MS


Have you felt a sudden catch in your lower back after lifting something heavy? Is it difficult to turn from side-to-side? Is it challenging to bend forward or even sit for a period of time? What you have experienced is called a paraspinal muscle spasm. But why do paraspinal muscle spasms happen? What should you do when you experience a paraspinal muscle spasm? Why do they happen and is paraspinal muscle spasm avoidable? Let us understand them better. 

A spasm is a strong muscle contraction that is out of your control (involuntary). They have a sudden onset. They are often vigorous and uncomfortable due to intense pain which is localised to the site of the spasm. A muscular spasm is a symptom and is caused by an underlying disease. 

Paraspinal muscles are the strip of muscle fibres that run parallel to the spine in our back. A spasm of these muscles is called a paraspinal muscle spasm.

paraspinal muscles spasm

What are the symptoms of paraspinal muscle spasm?

Their symptoms are painful and often interrupt daily life. Paraspinal muscles  are important for stabilising the back during any kind motion, be it sitting, standing, or running. Hence when they go into spasm, it can make your life very difficult. Symptoms include:

Paraspinal muscle spasms are prevalent in every age group and gender.

What causes a paraspinal muscle spasm?

Reasons for muscle spasms to occur can vary from a simple electrolyte imbalance to severe neurological degenerative disease. Paraspinal muscles have the same composition as that of a normal muscle and can be affected similarly. They can be grouped into 3 major causations.

Reasons for paraspinal muscle spasm categorised based on disease.

● Hypokalemia
● Hypomagnesemia
● Hypocalcemia
● Addison’s disease
● Renal disease
● Peripheral neuropathy
● Benign fasciculations and cramp syndrome
● Neurodegeneration with iron deposition.
● Strychnine poisoning
● Tourette syndromeI
● Tumor/Mass
● Wilson’s disease
● Infections/Inflammation (encephalitis)

How is a paraspinal muscle spasm diagnosed?

There are a vast number of triggers that can present in muscle spasms. Therefore, to administer an accurate mode of therapy, a thorough evaluation is required. A detailed history of the onset, distribution, frequency, occurrence, and severity of the paraspinal spasm is taken. The history-taking should be able to narrow down the causation to one of the 3 major groups.

Physical examination is focused on palpation of the paraspinal muscle in the back, meaning the doctor is going to check if the muscle is taut or painful.

How do I treat my paraspinal muscle spasm?

Muscle spasms are often treated by addressing the underlying cause, while some treatments may be effective regardless of the etiology. Therefore, diagnosis after a thorough examination is important to ensure the correct form of treatment.

1. Immediate symptomatic relief from paraspinal spasms:

This mode of therapy is effective for sudden painful muscle spasms which usually are observed in people who regularly exercise or are weight training. Even in diseased conditions, this may help to alleviate the spasm.

2. Pharmacotherapy

In diagnosed diseases, your doctor may advise certain medications which may help you relieve spasms/spasticity. These drugs can ONLY be prescribed by a doctor and must be taken according to their orders. These drugs cannot be self-administered and have severe side effects like drowsiness, tremors, or nausea.