Back spasms send many people to the doctor and emergency room each year to deal with the excruciating pain and sometimes fear. While serious medical conditions can cause bank spasms, a herniated disc or sports injury for example, often it results from muscle misuse and/or sedentary living. Read on for tips on how to treat back spasms, deferring first to medical advice.

1. Treat back spasms with cold initially, such as a ice pack, to limit swelling and blood flow, both which produce increased pain following an injury. Cold may help for future muscle spasms as well, especially if a heating pad fails to provide relief. Otherwise, switch to a heating pad and use this on the surrounding muscles if the back spasms continue.

2. Rest as much as possible during the first two to three days, if needed, to allow the muscle injury to heal. Try to maintain some mobility, however, unless directed otherwise. Though painful, walking a minute or two several times a day will help prevent other muscles from tightening due to disuse.

3. Elevate your legs to treat back spasms and take pressure off of the back. The best position for many sufferers is to lie on the floor with knees bent at a 90-degree angle and the lower legs resting on a chair seat. Other measures include elevating the legs on pillows or placing the feet on a foot stool while sitting, elevating the knees above the pelvis. Poor pelvic alignment can make one more susceptible to back spasms.

4. Talk to your physician or pharmacist about over-the-counter medications that you can take to treat back spasms. Most patients will do best with an anti-inflammatory drug such as ibuprofen or naproxen, but some individuals may be directed to take aspirin or acetaminophen. If medical treatment is sought additional medications such as muscle relaxers may be recommended.

5. Try gentle back and leg stretching exercises designed for back strain as you improve, unless this aggravates the back pain. One effective exercise involves laying on the floor with the knees bent and the soles of the feet placed on the floor. Grab a knee and pull it gently towards the chest, hold for five to 10 seconds and release to the original position, then switch to the other knee. Repeat five to 10 times on each side. Note that exercise is best started some days into the healing process, when pain is less severe, or when the doctor recommends.

6. Use distraction and relaxation techniques to treat back spasms and reduce suffering. Whether it is meditation or reading, keeping your mind off of the back pain can help you relax, breathe effectively and promote healing.

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