Back cramps are characterized by a sharp pain deep inside your back muscles, they generally occur after a soft tissue injury which may then give rise to muscle strain – where the muscle has stretched so much the fibers are torn – or ligament sprains – where the connective tissue between muscle and joint is abnormally stretched. Because the purpose of the lower back area is to give protection, support and to aid movement in certain body areas and tissues any injury or discomfort in that area will make life difficult for sufferers.
- Injury is the most common trigger for lower back cramps. An injury related back cramps – whether as the result of sport or exercise, an accident or the wrong lifting technique – will begin quite suddenly. This kind of injury only needs plenty of rest, some pain-relief and perhaps some physiotherapy and it will soon clear up
- Nerve damage if the back cramps are accompanied by numbness or a burning tingling sensation then it is likely that some nerve tissue damage has occurred. – in this case the legs may well be also affected. Several things may be a factor in nerve-induced back cramps – a herniated disc, vertebrae fracture, narrowing of the spinal canal which is a natural part of the aging process. Treatment for these kinds of back cramps is more problematic as the more common pain relief treatments will not help. Instead the use of muscle relaxants and gentle exercise is generally recommended.
- Other factors – back cramps in the lower lumbar region may also be due to problems associated with the kidneys, a hormonal disorder, diabetes or anemia. It is also possible that mineral deficiency, dehydration and some medication side effects may also be contributing factors
- Back cramps in pregnancy – many women experience back cramps during pregnancy – especially in the third trimester where the back muscles, ligaments and joints are all coming under a lot of pressure as the body prepares to give birth. In early pregnancy any lower back cramps can be attributed to the uterus relaxing and stretching in preparation for the pregnancy. If, however, the pains are intense and accompanied by spotting or bleeding then this could be an indication of miscarriage or, more rarely, a serious condition known as ectopic pregnancy – in these cases immediate medical assistance should be sought. In the second and third trimesters the start of Braxton Hicks contractions (commonly referred to as false labour) may also induce lower back pain – in this case however the cramping will only last for a few minutes. Severe cramping accompanied by diarrhea may be indicative of pre-term labour and again urgent medical advice should be sought.
It appears that most back cramps are dealt with quickly and effectively however as with many medical conditions any delay in diagnosis and treatment may well lead to unforeseen complications. Maintaining good posture and getting some rest if you experience lower back pain or cramps will help you to avoid the unpleasantness of this condition from going on for too long.