Spinal muscles

Spinal muscles are made up of tissue that contracts when stimulated. When spinal muscles contract, the neck and back are able to move forward, backward or from side-to-side; as well as bend, twist and extend. This wide range of motion is made possible due to a complex system of muscles, ligaments, tendons and bones.

When you want to move your neck or your back, your brain must tell your spinal muscles to contract. A nerve impulse originates in the brain and travels through nerves in the spinal cord. This impulse, or signal, makes its way to the muscle in a fraction of a second, telling the muscle to contract, or move, in a certain way.

Strained spinal muscles

Occasionally, spinal ligaments and muscles become strained or injured. A muscle strain can occur when any muscle in the body is held in the contracted position for too long. Overuse like this can cause microscopic tears in muscle tissue, and the muscle will tighten, or shorten, to protect itself from further injury.

Many of us are familiar with the feeling of a stiff, aching neck and shoulders, which is often caused by a strained trapezius muscle in the upper back. The trapezius muscle — which extends from the neck to the middle back and across both shoulders — can become tight and sore after many hours of working on a computer, driving or sleeping in the wrong position.

Spinal muscles in the lower back, or lumbar spine, also are subject to strain, overstretching or other damage. This can happen as a result of:

  • Improper lifting technique
  • Accidents and falls
  • Poor posture
  • Repetitive movements at work or in sports

Additionally, spinal muscles can also weaken over time from age-related deterioration making them more prone to strain. Weakened spinal muscles can also cause extra pressure to be placed on the spine, leading to the onset of conditions like bulging discs or bone spurs which can pinch nerves and lead to painful, debilitating symptoms.

Symptoms and treatment options

Most muscle conditions in the spine are not serious, but they can cause significant pain. In reaction to damage or injury, spinal muscles may stiffen, develop a dull ache or develop a sharp, stabbing or throbbing pain. Pain is another natural reaction by the body to reduce further motion and prevent injury.

With proper diagnosis and treatment from a physician, such as rest, physical therapy, hot/cold therapy and anti-inflammatory medication, spinal muscles can repair themselves and you can have relief. Pain that lasts for weeks and months and does not improve with conservative treatment could be related to a problem in the spine and may require surgery.

If you are considering surgery for a degenerative spine condition but are concerned about the risks and difficulties involved with traditional procedures, reach out to Laser Spine Institute. Our surgeons perform minimally invasive surgery for many types of neck and back conditions that offer a shorter recovery period and less scarring than traditional procedures.

Contact our Care Team today for your no-cost MRI review* to find out if you are a candidate for one of our minimally invasive, outpatient procedures.