Back spasms for years - Looking for knowledge about this problem and help — Scope | Disability forum
New to the community? Remember to read our community guidelines and our community house rules.
Concerned about another member's safety or wellbeing? Find out how to let us know.

Back spasms for years - Looking for knowledge about this problem and help

MMD
MMD Member Posts: 2 Listener

I know this is a long post, but I would be very thankful if you could help me.

When I was 17 years old, I did some very heavy deadlifting and squatting with too few rest days inbetween and one day I woke up with an extremely sore back and pelvis-area unable to walk because of the pain. The pain cooled down during a few months but over the years since then my back has only gotten worse and worse.

The problem often starts around the lower back and then spreads to my bottocks and the rest of my back. Sometimes it continues from the pelvis area down the leg. It feels like something inside is blocking me from doing movements.

I have chosen to write some examples of situations that happened to my back over those years, so that hopefully someone with experience or knowledge will be able to recognize my issues:

1: When i was 18-19 years old I had to get to somewhere really fast, so I ran as fast as I could. The more I ran, the more my back started to hurt. At the end of it, I had to stop and could barely stand up. However, all the pain disappeared not long after. So unlike with the deadlifts, I didn´t get sore muscles.Rather, it was like something was blocking me from using all my power.Happened a few months later again.

2: As a 22 year old I had a physical fight with my brother(, not a serious one). He is much younger than me so I did not have to use much power, nor did I get very tired. Yet, my back started to hurt more and more and in the end I tried to kick him, but my back gave in and I fell to the ground and couldn´t get up. And unlike the last example, this time the pain stayed there for days.

3: I have since tried to get back to the gym several times , but every time I do weighted squats or deadlifts, the back spasms will come some hours or days later. In spite of being able to squat 60 kgs (about 130 lbs) for several reps and sets, my back will be hurt from just lifting 15 kgs.If I stop early, the pain doesn´t get that bad.

There are also positives:

4: One itme, I managed to get all the pain away simply by standing up, bending over and touching my toes. When I straightened my back afterwards, the pain disappeared completely.It came back the next day when I was doing some kind of physical activity though.

5: Another time, all of the pain went away by me using a massage ball on my bottocks. Not just the pain in the pelvis area but the rest of the back too. This doesn´t work when the pain is at its worst thougjh.I have also tried a regular thai massage. After the massage, all of the pain went away but slowly came back during the next hours.

What confuses me about the problem is that:A: I can easily lift decent amounts of weight with my back. Similarly, I could easily fight with my brother without having to use much of my strength and without getting very tired. Yet, even though I am not pushing myself that far, the back spasms still come and I have to either use a massage ball or lie down for several days.B: Doctors and physiotherapists have found absolutely NOTHING wrong with my back or my pelvis area. Some had said that some of my upper back muscles are not as strong as the rest of my body, but no one has been able to explain why it gives me those back spasms. Another said my muscles were very tight, but also wasn´t sure what the problem was. Another one has said that it sounds like some kind of strain in the back from overtraining, but he too does not have a definitive answer.C: I find it weird that a massage ball on the buttocks, a regular massage or touching my toes can actually make a lot of the pain go away. This indicates to me that 1: something inside my back or pelvis area is somehow "stuck" for a lack of better words. 2: That a lot of the pain starts from the pelvis area, since massaging my buttocks is enough to make the rest of my back relax. 3: That a since a reagular massage can make a lot of the problems go away, that indicates that some of the pain also residing simply from tension in the back.

While these indications do give me some idea of what is wrong, they do not draw the full picture. Therefore, I want to know if any of you know about this. Have you experienced or have professional knowledge of something similar? Could it be a weak pelvis? Other weak muscles? A stuck nerve? Strong tension? A psychological problem? If you know anything, please let me know.

Comments

  • leeCal
    leeCal Member Posts: 4,257 Disability Gamechanger
    Hi @MMD before reading your post I initially thought I could help but I can’t, however I’ll tag @chiarieds who may be able to,shed some light on the problem. Best wishes anyway.
  • chiarieds
    chiarieds Community Co-Production Group Posts: 10,614 Disability Gamechanger
    edited July 2020
    Hi @MMD - & welcome to the community. Thank you for the tag @leeCal
    I'm a physio, altho I haven't practiced as such for a long time. Obviously I can't tell 'remotely,' but I'll pass on a few thoughts. You're mainly doing all the right things with the pain you experience, except lying down for several days.....you need to keep mobile & exercise gently.
    I'm sure you warm up before weight lifting, & that you know how to lift correctly. When your muscles go into spasm, as you've found, massage can help.This increases the blood supply to the area, & also aids relaxation. I'd like you to try another relaxation technique, & that's diaphragmatic breathing. Please see: https://www.guysandstthomas.nhs.uk/resources/patient-information/therapies/abdominal-breathing.pdf
    It would be good to practice that so when you do have back spasms you can put it more effectively into practice.
    The first thing that crossed my mind was 'piriformis syndrome,' which may have not been looked into, & some find difficult to accurately diagnose. Whether it's that, or not, or that together with your back muscles going into spasm simply to protect your back, I can't know. However, exercises for piriformis syndrome will do no harm, so long as you stop if it causes increased pain. The massage ball helping your buttocks is what made me think of this. Have a look at the following physio led video on piriformis syndrome, & the exercises in the 2nd video may also be helpful. See: https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/exercise/exercises-sciatica-problems/
    The only other thing I'd add, is to do exercises to stretch your hip adductors (on the inside of your thigh) with a long lever, i.e. a straight leg. Either do this in standing, lifting one leg away from your body, or lying down, then lift a straight leg up away from the other leg, hold for a few seconds, then gently lower.
    Hope some of this helps, & kindly let us know how you get on, thank you.


  • janer1967
    janer1967 Member Posts: 12,378 Disability Gamechanger
    Hi and welcome to the community, great to have you on board. I am sorry but we are unable to give any medical advice on here but we can share experiences and symptoms.

    I found when I had back problems I went to a chiropractor who after intensive therapy re-aligned my spine and resolved the issue, I did continue going for 2 years but have been pain free for over 12 years now.

    You have been given advice above which I am sure can give you a better solution than anyone with her experience 
    I have professional experience in HR within public,  private, and charity sectors.  If I can't help I will
  • Chloe_Scope
    Chloe_Scope Scope Posts: 10,565 Disability Gamechanger
    Welcome to the community @MMD, how are you doing today?
    Scope

  • KingKongsFinger
    KingKongsFinger Member Posts: 62 Pioneering
    Likely to be a disc/nerve issue if it affects being able to stand or walk, ignore the physio's stance on this, they always say stuff like "oh You need to keep exercising" but often that's not the best thing and actually there's probably not much You can do about it. Also look into leg length discrepancy and scoliosis as this is often overlooked and can cause major problems with the lower back and limbs. Also look at sacroiliac joint dysfunction! I'd say it's more nerve related than muscle related by reading what You've described. Could also be a hip problem.
  • KingKongsFinger
    KingKongsFinger Member Posts: 62 Pioneering
    Weight lifting in particular can and often does ruin the lower discs.....
  • KingKongsFinger
    KingKongsFinger Member Posts: 62 Pioneering
    The buttock involvement would suggest sacroiliac joint
  • KingKongsFinger
    KingKongsFinger Member Posts: 62 Pioneering
    Find out what's wrong with it first by xrays/mri scans before you take on any exercises
  • Chloe_Scope
    Chloe_Scope Scope Posts: 10,565 Disability Gamechanger
    Please be mindful that we do not allow medical advice on the community. You are more than welcome to support others, but it is important that members see people who are qualified to advise them medically.
    Scope

  • MMD
    MMD Member Posts: 2 Listener
    The buttock involvement would suggest sacroiliac joint

    Weight lifting in particular can and often does ruin the lower discs.....
    Likely to be a disc/nerve issue if it affects being able to stand or walk, ignore the physio's stance on this, they always say stuff like "oh You need to keep exercising" but often that's not the best thing and actually there's probably not much You can do about it. Also look into leg length discrepancy and scoliosis as this is often overlooked and can cause major problems with the lower back and limbs. Also look at sacroiliac joint dysfunction! I'd say it's more nerve related than muscle related by reading what You've described. Could also be a hip problem.

    janer1967 said:
    Hi and welcome to the community, great to have you on board. I am sorry but we are unable to give any medical advice on here but we can share experiences and symptoms.

    I found when I had back problems I went to a chiropractor who after intensive therapy re-aligned my spine and resolved the issue, I did continue going for 2 years but have been pain free for over 12 years now.

    You have been given advice above which I am sure can give you a better solution than anyone with her experience 

    leeCal said:
    Hi @MMD before reading your post I initially thought I could help but I can’t, however I’ll tag @chiarieds who may be able to,shed some light on the problem. Best wishes anyway.Chloe_Scope said:
    Please be mindful that we do not allow medical advice on the community. You are more than welcome to support others, but it is important that members see people who are qualified to advise them medically.
    Find out what's wrong with it first by xrays/mri scans before you take on any exercises
    chiarieds said:
    Hi @MMD - & welcome to the community. Thank you for the tag @leeCal
    I'm a physio, altho I haven't practiced as such for a long time. Obviously I can't tell 'remotely,' but I'll pass on a few thoughts. You're mainly doing all the right things with the pain you experience, except lying down for several days.....you need to keep mobile & exercise gently.
    I'm sure you warm up before weight lifting, & that you know how to lift correctly. When your muscles go into spasm, as you've found, massage can help.This increases the blood supply to the area, & also aids relaxation. I'd like you to try another relaxation technique, & that's diaphragmatic breathing. Please see: https://www.guysandstthomas.nhs.uk/resources/patient-information/therapies/abdominal-breathing.pdf
    It would be good to practice that so when you do have back spasms you can put it more effectively into practice.
    The first thing that crossed my mind was 'piriformis syndrome,' which may have not been looked into, & some find difficult to accurately diagnose. Whether it's that, or not, or that together with your back muscles going into spasm simply to protect your back, I can't know. However, exercises for piriformis syndrome will do no harm, so long as you stop if it causes increased pain. The massage ball helping your buttocks is what made me think of this. Have a look at the following physio led video on piriformis syndrome, & the exercises in the 2nd video may also be helpful. See: https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/exercise/exercises-sciatica-problems/
    The only other thing I'd add, is to do exercises to stretch your hip adductors (on the inside of your thigh) with a long lever, i.e. a straight leg. Either do this in standing, lifting one leg away from your body, or lying down, then lift a straight leg up away from the other leg, hold for a few seconds, then gently lower.
    Hope some of this helps, & kindly let us know how you get on, thank you.


    leeCal said:
    Hi @MMD before reading your post I initially thought I could help but I can’t, however I’ll tag @chiarieds who may be able to,shed some light on the problem. Best wishes anyway.
    Thanks for all of your help. I will research some of the things, you mentioned. Appreciate the help.
  • chiarieds
    chiarieds Community Co-Production Group Posts: 10,614 Disability Gamechanger
    You're welcome @MMD - I hope you do find out what the problem is, & that in the meanwhile you might try the exercises suggested above.
    As you write, 'Doctors and physiotherapists have found absolutely NOTHING wrong with my back or my pelvis area,' I imagine they have already tested for the many problems KingKongsFinger has just suggested.

    @KingKongsFinger would you kindly read our community guidelines, thank you. They can be found here:
    https://www.scope.org.uk/online-community-guidelines/      which says,

    'Please make sure your messages respect other users’ views and suggestions, even if you do not agree with them.

    Take care to present your views tactfully'  & 'Do not present opinions as facts.'

  • dowhatyoucant
    dowhatyoucant Member Posts: 13 Courageous
    @MMD I would like to echo what @chiarieds has said as I believe they have provided the most helpful advise in this thread thus far.

    I'm quite familiar with back spasms as I've been diagnosed with DDD and bulging discs myself but learned to adapt and thrive. Speaking from my own experience (following the guidelines here everyone) which does include formal education fitness training as a Personal Trainer and Strength & Conditioning Coach (so this is not 'bro-science'), it was absolutely imperative that after the initial resting stage post-injuries that I begin carefully but consistently progressing my activity to incorporate daily stretching and movement. 

    I've learned that in many cases, in this case it happened to be my own as well, back "spasms" are the body's attempt to protect a compromised area that lacks the strength/stability it needs from the intended muscle group. When something isn't functioning correctly, neighboring tissues will work to create 'false' stability in the form of a muscle spasm, but that creates muscular dysfunction because now a muscle is trying to do the job it was not intended to do. Long story short, working to stretch my hips to get them as loose as possible eventually reduced nearly all of my back pain because it relaxed those spasming muscles. To retrain the muscles that were weak to begin with, I focused on adding strength to basic postures (standing to begin with). Using a "back extension" station (basically standing posture but leaning forward to exercise the posterior musculature) I steadily improved my hamstrings, glutes and spinal muscles ability to hold proper posture (I think I could hold for 15-25 seconds at first, then steadily worked up to being able to hold for a minute). Once I could hold that posture for a minute or more, I started adding movement to that posture (deadlift movements, but carefully weighted and slowly progressed). 

    Essentially I reinforced basic ("safe") positions using appropriate resistance given my strength at the time and pain feedback (if it hurts, don't do it), and progressively increased the difficulty of those positions by adding more range of motion and load. It's more complex that it sounds, but that's the basic formula - start with what you CAN do and carefully progress yourself to be able to do a 'little' bit more each week/month. Over time, it's amazing how far you can go. I spent several weekends confined to a rolling chair in those early days post-injury, now it's been nearly 10 years so I had a spasm or any serious pain.

    Anyway, there's hope for you I'm sure, just know that no matter who you are, resting for too long WILL become counter-productive, because eventually that turns into bed rest :P 
    Ben C.
    CSCS/CPT/SNS

Brightness

Do you need advice on your energy costs?


Scope’s Disability Energy Support service is open to any disabled household in England or Wales in which one or more disabled people live. You can get free advice from an expert adviser on managing energy debt, switching tariffs, contacting your supplier and more. Find out more information by visiting our
Disability Energy Support webpage.

Fancy a chat in our virtual coffee lounge?

Put the kettle on and have a chat in our coffee lounge with other members. We talk about hobbies, games and anything else you can think of!

Cerebral Palsy (CP) Online Cafe

Here's a new opportunity for people with CP or a similar disability (aged 20+) to get together and chat. The sessions are in partnership with CP Sport so you can find out more and meet people from both organisations.

Are you struggling?

Read our 'Coping with stress, low mood and isolation' support thread for a run-down of ideas on how to banish those blues and feel happier.

What do you think about the community?

Complete our feedback form and tell us how we can make the community a better space for you.

Information about COVID-19

If you have questions about the virus, please read our information and support which includes guidance on benefits, getting food and essentials and Cerebral Palsy.

Back to school this September?

Read tips on how to settle back in and handle any worries you or your children might be having this new term.