Can a Chiropractor Help With Muscle Spasms?

Muscle spasms are at their best uncomfortable and at their worst extremely painful. They often happen in the neck, back, legs, and feet. And while they usually go away on their own, seeing a chiropractor for muscle spasms is a good idea for those who experience them frequently or if they’re severe in intensity.

Seeing a chiropractor for muscle spasms can be highly beneficial. Because chiropractors are experts in the musculoskeletal system, they commonly treat muscle spasms in a variety of non-invasive ways. These include massage, adjustments, physical therapy modalities, and joint manipulation. 

Can Chiropractic Help With Muscle Spasms?

There are many causes of muscle spasms. When a muscle contracts involuntarily, it’s usually a very painful experience. But this doesn’t happen for no reason. Most muscle spasms are caused by one of the following:

  • Injury
  • Dehydration
  • Degenerative disc disease
  • Spinal stenosis
  • Over exercising
  • Fatigue
  • Not stretching properly
  • Poor posture
  • Dietary issues, such as a vitamin deficiency
  • Spinal misalignment
  • Pulled muscle
  • Inflammation

Often, a muscle spasm is a sign that something else is going on. Some spasms are a symptom rather than the cause.

Luckily, chiropractors can help. In fact, studies show that chiropractic care is excellent for relaxing muscles and, better yet, correcting any underlying issues that may be causing painful muscle cramps. Let’s go over some evidence that chiropractic care is good for muscle cramps.

What the Science Says About Chiropractic for Muscle Spasms

Here are three studies that show how beneficial chiropractic care can be for muscle spasms.

Chiropractic Better Than Muscle Relaxants

This first study details a randomized clinical trial comparing chiropractic spinal manipulation to muscle relaxants for those with low back pain. After all, many physicians will prescribe muscle relaxants to help muscle spasms. But they don’t always work! And they do little to address the causes of the spasms.

This study involved 192 participants, all with a history of low back pain suffered from 2 to 6 weeks in duration. The people were split into three groups; one that received real chiropractic manipulations and placebo pills; another that received sham manipulations and real muscle relaxers; and one group that received both the placebo pills and the sham manipulations.

The results showed that real chiropractic spinal manipulation was better than both of the other groups for treating the participants’ back pain.

Reducing Muscle Activity with Chiropractic Care

Another study, this one done with 34 subjects, aimed to measure how chiropractic spinal manipulation affected muscle activity in the back. This was done with the use of electrodes attached to the subjects at the trapezius and spinal muscles to measure electrical activity in the muscles following a spinal manipulation.

The average for all 20 of the test subjects showed a 25% reduction in muscle activity, compared to no significant reduction in the control group of 14 participants. Since muscle spasms are often caused by overactive muscles, this study shows how effective chiropractic manipulation is for relaxing muscles.

Muscle Spasms Because of Injury

Our third study is a case study detailing the treatment of a 43-year-old woman who had been suffering from muscle spasms, low back pain, and other symptoms that she contributed to a tennis match 16 years previous. She rated her pain as an 8 out of 10 before treatment began.

An MRI scan showed that she had a disc bulge at her L4/L5 vertebrae. The authors of the study decided on a combination of core stabilization exercises, cardiovascular exercises, stretching exercises, and spinal manipulation. Much of this she did at home, which made it active participation instead of passive. In her case, this made all the difference.

She had been dealing with pain and muscle spasms for so long that she had tried a wide range of other treatments, including corticosteroid injections, stretches, and bed rest. But the combination of specific exercises and stretches, along with manipulation, allowed her to see significant improvement.

How Do Chiropractors Treat Muscle Spasms?

Chiropractors have a variety of ways to treat muscle spasms. It often depends on what causes the spasm. For example, if the spasm has been caused by a recent injury, a chiropractor may suggest using physical therapy modalities to reduce inflammation, which itself can sometimes cause painful spasms.

If there’s no apparent injury, a chiropractor will often decide to use massage therapy or spinal manipulations to relieve the spasm. Spinal manipulations work well for this, and they often work even better when combined with massage therapy. The specific treatment varies on a case-by-case basis.

Still, here are the most common chiropractic treatments for muscle spasms:

  • Physical therapy modalities
    • Hot and cold therapy
    • Ultrasound
  • Spinal manipulation
  • Joint adjustments
  • Stretching
  • Exercises to strengthen the muscles

What to Do At Home for Muscle Spasms

You may not want to visit a chiropractor immediately for your muscle spasms, particularly if they’re not painful or long-lasting. But you probably still want to find some relief and prevent it from happening again. So, here are some tips you can use at home to help with your muscle spasms.

  • Exercise Regularly
    • Studies show a correlation between muscle strength and back pain. Weak muscles are more likely to get overworked or experience spams. Plus strengthening your muscles will help you stay healthy in general, especially with regard to your back. However, it’s important that you don’t over exercise, as this can also cause spasms.
  • Rest
    • Sometimes muscle spasms are caused by overworked muscles, and you simply need to rest for a little while until the muscle relaxes.
  • Heat and Ice
    • Alternating between heat and ice for about 20 minutes each with 20 minutes in between can help relieve muscle pain and tension from a spasm.
  • NSAIDs
    • Taking non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs can temporarily help with the pain from a muscle spasm.

When to Call a Chiropractor for Muscle Spasms

It can be hard to know when you should see a chiropractor for muscle spasms. After all, most muscle spasms can go away on their own. However, just because they’re likely to go away on their own doesn’t mean that there isn’t an underlying issue that needs to be resolved.

Those who have long-lasting muscle spasms should see a chiropractor, as they will likely be able to prevent further spasms through treatment, reducing if not eliminating the length of spams.

Those who have very intense and painful spasms should also see a chiropractor to determine their cause and work to prevent them. 

Anyone who has regular muscle spasms should definitely see a chiropractor, as this often means that there is some underlying issue that needs to be addressed. This could be something as simple as poor posture or something else, like arthritis, both of which can benefit from chiropractic care.

Chiropractor for Muscle Spasms: Conclusion

Your first chiropractic visit for muscle spasms may seem a little strange, but there’s nothing to be worried about. After all, many people actually head to the emergency room when they experience a painful muscle spasm, although this isn’t strictly necessary. It does, however, go to show how painful muscle spasms can be.

Chiropractors are used to treating muscle spasms and many other kinds of musculoskeletal issues. Therefore chiropractic care can be extremely beneficial for not only treating muscle spasms while they’re happening but also preventing them from happening in the future by determining the underlying cause, if there is one. Through massage, chiropractic manipulation, and physical therapy, you can experience relief from muscle spasms with safe, effective, and non-invasive treatment.

Resources:
https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0161475404000983
https://europepmc.org/article/med/3437234
https://europepmc.org/article/med/8441940
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2647049/

Dr. Brent Wells - Anchorage Chiropractor
About the Author

Dr. Brent Wells, D.C.

Dr. Brent Wells has been a trusted chiropractor since moving his family from Oregon to Alaska back in 1998 and founded Better Health Chiropractic & Physical Rehab – B.S. from Univ. of Nevada, Doctorate from Western States Chiropractic College, volunteer for Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy Foundation, and member of the American Chiropractic Association. As a chiropractor his focus is on family, including his 3 children and wife of 20+ years, his clinics, and ongoing education.

Featured Post

NEWSLETTER SIGN-UP

If you are from Alaska, get Dr. Wells' latest health advice and a free massage certificate. Sign up now!

NEWSLETTER SIGN-UP

If you are from Alaska, get Dr. Wells' latest health advice and a free massage certificate. Sign up now!

Featured Post