The Annual Back Spasm

by Heidi Smith in ,

The Annual Back Spasm

Ahh, Thanksgiving! For some, it means family. For others, it means Football! And those of us who have had the pleasure of hosting Thanksgiving dinner, it means frantically cleaning, setting tables, cooking, more cleaning, getting out extra tables and chairs, and the annual back spasm. If, that’s not how you grew up, your family must see a chiropractor regularly ;D

When I was in my teens, my family hosted Thanksgiving dinner. My mother would wake me early in the morning to help her start chopping the ingredients for the stuffing so the turkey could go into the oven on time. In her quest to be the perfect hostess, she would have been up hours earlier sewing new napkins, or hemming a new table runner she decided to make last minute, or looking for that new recipe she wanted to try that she wrote down while watching Martha Stewart Living.

The Annual Back Spasm would usually occur around the second hour of turkey cooking, when she would open the oven and glide the rack half-way out to baste the bird, she would let out a howl because her lower back would begin to spasm. Panic would strike her face and tears would fill her eyes. Tears of pain from the tightening muscles in her lower back, and tears of anxiety, thinking of the several hungry mouths that would be arriving in mere hours. Panic and worry she would drop the turkey, or WORSE! not be able to finish preparing the meal!

The spasm would calm a bit, and she would yell for my dad to bring her the back brace he wore while lifting and installing heavy cabinetry. She would power through, experiencing an intermittent spasm. The pain was so great, she would vocalize a sound like, “hunnnyynnnngnmmkng! hunhhgh!” and every once in a while, throw in some choice German words for good measure. These episodes would last for hours, until eventually, she would have to lie down. My sisters and I would do our best to help her finish the meal.

Looking back, I realize how great an impact these events made on my life. I remember looking at my mother and wanting to help her. Sure, I was helping her cook, and complete the tasks required of such an event, but I really wanted to help HER and her wellbeing. I did not like to see her in pain. Now that I am a chiropractor, I adjust my mom frequently to ensure these terrible spastic episodes no longer occur. Honestly, if we lived a bit closer, I would check her weekly and adjust her spine as needed, because I know what a difference a fully functioning nervous system makes in the quality of her life.

When I am able to help a patient having active spasms in his or her lower back, I am reminded of those years of Thanksgiving preparations. I am so thankful I have the innovative chiropractic training and the skill to help alleviate the pain AND prevent it from reoccurring through adjustments. I am so blessed to do what I do. I love to do what I do for this community. I am even available at odd hours, as long as you don't mind if I am coming from the soccer field with a kid (or two!) in tow.

If you are experiencing back spasm, here are three things you can do:

1 – Call a chiropractor. A chiropractor can identify the cause of the back spasm and correct it. If you have never seen a chiropractor, ask a friend for a recommendation. If you would rather do a search, here are some links to some of my favorites:

2 – Ice it! Occasionally, I will have a new patient come in and say she used a heating pad to help her muscle calm down. What a heating pad does is actually encourage your body’s inflammatory process. It causes increased inflammation which means increased pain, and decreased functioning. Using ice on an acute spasm for 15 minutes helps decrease the inflammation and can help numb the pain until you can get to the chiropractor.

3 – Light stretches. Cat/Camel stretch is the best. Avoid any twisting stretches and movements that cause you to bend at odd angles.