Many of us will have experienced a sudden intense back pain, often caused just by turning sharply or reaching for something rather than anything physically arduous. The pain gradually diminishes over the course of a few days and doesn't recur. I have Googled for information on this, but back pain is such an extensive area it's hard to make sense of the flood of information. A common theme seems to be muscle spasm, but comments about this tend to be vague.

So my question is: assuming there is no underlying medical condition, like a slipped disk, what exactly goes on when you experience this apparently random intense back pain?

2 Answers 2


The causes of such pains are called back strains, and may be muscular or ligamentous in origin.

It may be caused by:

  1. Physical exertion
  2. Fall
  3. Bending repeatedly
  4. Lifting heavy objects
  5. Emotional Stress
  6. Sitting in improper postures for long periods of time

This happens when a muscle/ligament is overstretched, resulting in the injury of the same. Since spine is essentially supported by a large number of muscles and ligaments, this can happen very easily. If there is an injury, the area around it gets inflamed, and these will lead to spasm of the muscles. Hence the movement of the spine in such conditions will be extremely painful.

The treatment modalities are usually conservative, including rest, NSAIDs, muscle relaxants, and physiotherapy when needed.


  1. Diagnosis and Management of Acute Low Back Pain

  2. Low Back Strain - WEBMD

  3. What's causing your lower back pain? The top three causes are sprains and strains, herniated discs, and stenosis (Full text may not be accessible).


According to my understanding and experience sudden back pain can be considered as a sort of spasm. As such it cannot be controlled or relaxed intentionally. The patient is also not even aware of the spasm but only of the pain.

However, recent studies have found that an increased intake of magnesium can reduce the back pain. See for example

A double-blinded randomised controlled study of the value of sequential intravenous and oral magnesium therapy in patients with chronic low back pain with a neuropathic component.

Magnesium plays an important role in the communication of nerves and the prevention of spasm. Moreover many people need more magnesium than suggested by the recommended daily allowances for various reasons.

This way I understand the result of this study.

  • Magnesium helped me and my friends to get rid of this sort of back pain. If I stop using magnesium the back pain comes back after a few weeks. Jul 19, 2023 at 17:36

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