Back Strain

Back strain or “pulled back” occurs when muscle fibers on the back are torn or stretched, which can occur from both trauma and a more gradual overuse. Strains often happen while lifting something improperly or lifting too heavy a weight, but occasionally strains occur for no apparent reason. Other strains can come from overuse or repetitive motion such as twisting and leaning while at a workstation. This overuse fatigues the muscles and makes them weaker so they are susceptible to a strain.

After the muscle is torn or over-stretched, inflammation occurs around the area to protect the strain from getting worse. The inflammation will cause stiffness and reduction in the range in motion and this inflammation causes pain, which is usually described as intense or sharp, but some people feel a dull ache or pressure in the affected area and down their legs. Sometimes the inflammation will also cause a muscle spasm; these spasms usually happen within the first few days after the injury occurs.

Some back strains will go away without treatment. But treatment for a strain begins with the reduction of inflammation and pain. Depending on the person, applying an ice pack to the affected area and/or taking anti-inflammatories can be helpful. Exercise and stretching is not recommended for people suffering from acute pain, though complete bed rest is also not recommended. Only one to two days of bed rest is suggested, after that normal or near-normal activity should be returned to as soon as possible. The second part of the treatment is rehabilitation through gradual exercise, which should begin about four to six weeks after a severe strain. There are many gentle stretches and exercises that can aid in recovery, including walking, swimming and biking.

Back pain, especially pain in the lower back, is one of the most common ailments in adults. Around 85% of adults will experience some sort of back pain in their lives. Though keeping the back healthy and strong might not keep back strains from occurring, it may reduce their severity. Maintaining a healthy back includes frequent low impact aerobic, core strengthening, and stretching exercises. Maintain an ideal body weight is also helpful.

By taking some basic steps, mild pain often goes away without a doctor’s visit in about two weeks and severe pain six to eight weeks. If there is ever any numbness, bladder control problems, weakening in the legs, or if the pain becomes unmanageable, a sufferer should immediately consult with a physician.

10 thoughts on “Back Strain”

  1. First of all let me say that I like this Back Pain Blog. It has some good information including some of the suggestions in this article. The above article on “back strain” and “pulled muscles” presents a very common view about this form of back pain, one borne by many physicians. Please note for purposes of this discussion that a strain denotes injury to muscles and a sprain denotes injury to ligaments.It is a fact that Back Strain is one of the most common diagnoses when a patient presents with acute back pain. However, a detailed clinical evaluation almost invariably shows otherwise. Although back strain is inherently defined as a condition involving pulled muscles, a pulled muscle is one of the least likely incidents with the onset of back pain. The reason I say this is because the muscles of the back are so strong, that it takes incredible forces to actually pull, strain or tear the muscle fibers. I assert that more commonly, it is the muscle’s spasm in response to injury and irritation to sensitive nerves and soft tissues of the joint capsule that causes the onset of pain and the sequelae that follow. Consistent spasm leads to a vicious cycle of pain that involves, inflammation, vertebral misalignment (subluxation) and a barrage of nerve impulses providing feedback to the brain and spinal cord that something is wrong. Spasm is the body’s protective mechanism, acting to splint the area to prevent movement, not unlike putting a brace or back support on. Ice to control inflammation is always a good initial therapy because it helps break the cycle of pain and lessens scar formation in soft tissues as natural healing occurs. As a matter of fact the goal of well-intended therapy is to break the cycle of pain, relieve spasm, reduce inflammation and lessen scar tissue that can lead to chronic subluxation misalignments and chronic returning problems.

  2. Pain is something that everybody has in their body and experience that quite often

    on different occasions due to so many different reasons like work pressure, mental

    stress and illness, marital difficulties and personal problems

    I want to emphasize that although this intervention might have been effective,

    but it is intended to complement the traditional medical treatment. This approach

    has been used when for one reason or another, medical interventions were not able to

    reduce the sufferer’s degree of pain. One of the most positive aspects of this approach is

    that the sufferers themselves, with the guidance of a pain reduction specialist, can

    be taught how to use these methods as and when needed to deal with the recurrence of

    the pain. This in turn, reinforces the effectiveness of the treatment.

    i was one of them to experience a pain in my back both lower and upper back which

    was mainly because of my work and it was so bad that it was affecting my mind

    and my family life as well, my behaviour was totally being impatient until i was

    adviced by one of my colleague to take it this way and it did work for me
    and it took me so easy and today i am so different than before

  3. I am also new to this site. I have just learned about this site. I am going to read on and it’s very useful to know

  4. In my case, I have thrown out my back by merely turning the wrong way.

    It seems like this could be a case of overuse, where a slight movement was “the straw to break the camel’s back”, so to speak.

    I had a moderate herniation that was helped by the following exercises (check youtube for more detailed instructions):

    1. MacKenzie Pressups – 10 repetitions
    2. Hip extensions – 8 reps, 5 sec hold for each
    3. Birddog – 4 reps, 10 sec hold for each
    4. Side bridges – 5 reps, 10 sec hold on each side

    But these were specific to my particular injury. I would check with a doctor first before trying these out, as you might have an injury that would be only exacerbated by these moves.

    Thanks for your post!

  5. This is great info. I have back problems and right now I have to sleep with a body pillow tucked between my legs at night. It seems to have helped.

  6. It is best to wait for a couple of days and have a adequate rest prior to doing any stretching or exercises. However, keep in mind that a long best rest make the pain more intense and worsen the sufferer’s condition.

  7. Back pain is one of the most commonly complained by people noawadys. The ache may be brought about by the following factors: poor posture, overexertion and presence of underlying disease condition. One technique to get rid of back pain is to alternate the application of heat and cold in the affected site.

  8. Most people have experienced back pain sometime in their life. The causes of back pain are numerous; some are self-inflicted due to a lifetime of bad habits. Other back pain causes include accidents, muscle strains, and sports injuries. Although the causes may be different, most often they share the same symptoms.

    The symptoms for back pain are:

    Persistent aching or stiffness anywhere along your spine, from the base of the neck to the hips.
    Sharp, localized pain in the neck, upper back, or lower back — especially after lifting heavy objects or engaging in other strenuous activity.
    Chronic ache in the middle or lower back, especially after sitting or standing for extended periods.
    Back pain that radiates from the low back to the buttock, down the back of the thigh, and into the calf and toes.
    Inability to stand straight without having severe muscle spasms in the low back.

  9. Back pain may have a sudden onset or can be a chronic pain; it can be constant or intermittent, stay in one place or radiate to other areas. It may be a dull ache, or a sharp or piercing or burning sensation. The pain may radiate into the arms and hands as well as the legs or feet, and may include symptoms other than pain, such as weakness, numbness or tingling.

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