wikiHow to Get Rid of Extreme Back Spasms in the Morning

Two Methods:Treating Back Spasms with Lifestyle RemediesUsing Medical Treatments

Back spasms and cramping affect many people worldwide. These sudden and involuntary contractions of your back muscles can disrupt your sleep as well as your daily activities, including work.[1] If you wake up with back spasms, there are many different ways to get rid of them. Lifestyle remedies and medication, for example, may help you not only relieve the pain but also get on with your day.

Method 1
Treating Back Spasms with Lifestyle Remedies

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    Wake up slowly. If a back spasm wakes you up, give yourself a few minutes to wake up and get out of bed. A back spasm can be jarring, painful, and may even make you slightly dizzy, so allowing yourself to take it slowly may help relieve your symptoms. If you find it difficult to get up, follow this procedure:
    • Lie on your back and keep your knees bent.
    • Rotate your body to the side, so that you are lying on your side with your knees still slightly bent.
    • Slowly bring your legs off the bed and push yourself up with your bottom arm, making sure your body moves in one fluid motion.
    • Place your feet on the ground and use your hands to push off the bed. Make sure that you go slowly.
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    Stretch when you get out of bed. If you have a spasms or cramping in your back stretch it out. There are a couple of simple stretches that may help alleviate the spasm.[2]
    • Simply bending over and touching your toes may help.[3]
    • If you cannot stand up, you can do this same stretch while seated. Sitting with your legs outstretched and simply bending forward will have the same effect.[4]
    • Don't strain against the tension of spasm. Instead, stretch as you are able. Only increase the stretch as the cramping releases.
    • You might want to walk around in between stretching to help relax your back.
    • You can lightly massage your back as you stretch, too.
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    Do some gentle exercise or activity. Gentle exercising can help stretch out your back. General movement will naturally stretch the muscles and also help relax you, but you can also consider other exercises such as yoga.
    • Only exercise or undertake activities if you are able to and don’t push yourself. This may only be possible after some light stretching.
    • Gentle walking is a good way exercise to help stretch out your back. Take long strides to make sure that you’re using the entire muscle.[5] Depending on what time of morning your spasms strike, either walk around your house or you could walk around the block.
    • Try doing gentle yoga, which will also help stretch out the muscle. Restorative and yin yoga are specifically practiced to help stretch out and repair muscles.[6]
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    Massage your back. Massage is one of the most effective ways to get rid of a spasm because it increases circulation to the tissues of the muscle. Combined with stretching, massage can quickly alleviate the pain of a back spasm while simultaneously relaxing you.[7]
    • Massage your back where the muscle is cramping. Press the area gently with your hands and apply more pressure if it doesn’t hurt.
    • Consider using a tennis ball to help relieve your pain. You can place the ball between your back and a wall or your chair and gently move back and forth to give yourself a massage.
    • A foam roller is another effective way to massage your back. These circular pieces of foam allow you to roll out the affected muscle by applying pressure. If you use a foam roller on your low back, make sure that you use it on one side of your low back at a time. Lying directly on a foam roller can hyperextend your joints.
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    Use heat to release the spasm and alleviate pain. Using heat on a back spasm can be an extremely effective way to not only relax the muscle contraction and you, but also to relieve the pain. From heating pads to warm baths, there are many different heat treatments to help get rid of back spasms.[8]
    • Taking a warm shower or bath will relax you and help relieve the pain of a muscle cramp. The heat from the water can also help promote blood flow to the submerged area.[9] A shower will also work if you don’t have a bathtub.
    • You can also try stretching out your low back while you are in the shower. Sit on a stool in a bathtub or shower, with the shower head pointing at your back. While sitting, slowly lean forward, stretching your low back as the hot water helps to release the tension.
    • Using Epsom salts in a warm bath may also help relieve cramping.[10]
    • Fill hot water bottle or get a heating pad and place it on the area of your back that is spasming.
    • Over the counter heat rubs may also help relieve back spasms and relax the affected area.
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    Apply a cool or cold compress. Place something cold or cool on your back. This can help relieve pain.[11]
    • Use an ice pack as often as necessary for 20 minutes at a time.[12]
    • Wrap a bag of frozen vegetables in a dishtowel. The frozen vegetables conform to the shape of the back and may be more comfortable than an ice pack.
    • If it is too cold or your skin gets numb, remove the pack. Use a towel between the ice pack and your skin to help prevent frostbite.[13]
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    Breathe deeply. Deep breathing exercises, sometimes called pranayama, can naturally help dissolve the tension and tightness in your back that is causing the spasms.[14] Do a few deep breathing exercises to help relieve the spasm and your pain.
    • Deep breathing can help your body distribute oxygen to your body, which can help ease cramps and back pain. Inhale and exhale completely and in a balanced manner through your nose. For example, you would inhale for 4 breaths, hold for 2 counts, and then exhale completely for four breaths. You can vary the counts according to your abilities.[15]
    • You want to get the most out of your deep breathing, so sit upright, with your shoulders back, and refrain from slouching. Breath slowly and evenly by focusing from your stomach, pulling in your belly to expand you lungs and rib cage.[16]
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    Eat something small or have breakfast. Studies have shown that low levels of potassium, calcium and magnesium can cause muscle spasms. Having a small or breakfast may help minimize the spasm.[17]
    • Sources of potassium are bananas and oranges.
    • Brown rice, almonds, and avocados are good sources of magnesium.
    • Dairy products and spinach are good sources of calcium.
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    Drink something. Although studies have not shown a connection between dehydration and muscle spasms, there is some evidence that not consuming enough water does contribute to this involuntary cramping. Having something to drink may help minimize the cramping that occurs as a result of being dehydrated while you sleep.[18]
    • You don’t need to drink anything more than a glass of water. If you prefer sports drinks or juices, try drinking them in conjunction with some water.
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    Rest your back. For most back spasms, the best initial treatment is rest. Too much movement may exacerbate the cramping. Give yourself some time to rest to help relieve and prevent back spasms.[19]
    • Keep in mind that “rest” is not equivalent to being totally bedridden. You can go to the bathroom, take a shower, and sit briefly on a chair. Simply aim to spend most of your time in a comfortable position – which will vary depending on the site of your injury. Try to get out of the rest position once every hour for at least for a minute or two or for as long as you can.
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    Sleep in certain positions and don’t use constrictive bedding. Sleeping in some positions and having a tightly made bed can exacerbate the tendency for muscle spams. By loosening your covers and sleeping on your back or side, you may avoid back spasms in the morning.[20]
    • Using a flat sheet on your bed can constrict your movement, so consider sleeping without one.
    • Sleeping on your side with your knees bent is the best position to help avoid getting thigh cramps.[21]
    • If you sleep on your back, place pillows under your knees to help keep the normal curve of your spine.[22]
    • It’s advisable to not sleep on your stomach because it can be hard on your back and neck. If you are unable to sleep in any other position, you can reduce the strain by putting a pillow under your pelvis and lower abdomen. Not sleeping with a pillow under your head may also help reduce strain.[23]

Method 2
Using Medical Treatments

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    Take a pain reliever. If other methods don’t help your back spasm or you have lingering pain, take an over the counter medication to help alleviate the pain. If the pain continues for a longer period of time, though, consult your doctor.[24]
    • Take ibuprofen, acetaminophen, aspirin, or naproxen sodium to help with the minimize the pain.[25]
    • Be aware that taking pain relievers on an empty stomach in the morning may upset your stomach or make you nauseous.
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    Ingest a muscle relaxant. If your cramping is severe, consider taking a muscle relaxant.[26] This can not only relax the cramping muscle, but may also alleviate any pain associated with it.
    • You will need a prescription from your doctor for a muscle relaxant.
    • Be aware that muscle relaxants can make you sleepy and drowsy and may make it difficult to function.[27] Taking them on an empty stomach may also make you nauseous or vomit.
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    Stay away from quinine. Some sources suggest taking quinine for muscle cramps, but this treatment is dangerous and can cause a host of health problems including cardiac arrhythmia, nausea, headaches, and tinnitus.[28]
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    Call your doctor. If you back spasms are particularly severe, call your doctor. She may want to see you or can prescribe you medication to help relieve the spasms and minimize any associated pain.[29]
    • If the pain is very severe and your doctor isn’t yet in the office, either call 911 or go to the emergency room.

Sources and Citations

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Categories: Pain Management and Recovery