Spasms in the skeletal muscles of the back may cause twitching, involuntary muscle contractions and pain that starts suddenly and usually resolves quickly. The symptoms may range from mild to intense depending on the cause, notes Healthline.
Spasms result from improper nerve signaling and have a variety of causes. Dehydration and electrolyte imbalances, such as with sodium or potassium, are common causes of muscle spasms, according to MedicineNet. However, if spasms do not improve with proper hydration and electrolyte intake, make walking or moving difficult or are prolonged, seek urgent medical attention.
Spasms may occur due to damage to muscle or connective tissue from injury or because of medical conditions affecting the spinal column, states Healthline. Injuries can occur from improper lifting of heavy objects or other trauma. Medical conditions associated with back spasms include arthritis, spinal stenosis and herniated discs.
Imaging such as X-rays, magnetic resonance imaging or computerized tomography may be used to assess the cause of the spasms, explains Mayo Clinic. Doctors can also test the speed and strength of the nerve signals using electromyography, or EMG. EMG measures electrochemical signals in the nerves that control muscles and shows a decrease in activity with certain conditions. Doctors use medical history, reported symptoms and tests to determine the cause of back spasms and corresponding treatment.