How To Treat A Pulled Back Muscle In 8 Steps
A pulled back muscle can begin as a sudden, sharp pain when lifting or bending. Or it may appear gradually, getting progressively worse over several days. This common injury ranges from a minor inconvenience to an intense source of pain. It can take several weeks, and in some cases a few months, to heal.1
A pulled muscle is the common term for a strained muscle.2 A strain is a muscle or tendon injury that happens when the tissue stretches or tears. When a ligament stretches or tears, its called a sprain. Back pain, often due to a pulled muscle, is one of the most common issues health professionals treat.2 In most cases, you can manage and treat symptoms at home. But if the pain is unbearable or makes it difficult to move, see a doctor.
First What Is A Muscle Spasm
In general, muscle spasms can occur when a muscle involuntarily and forcibly contracts and is unable to relax. Muscle spasms can involve part or all of a muscle, and in some cases may involve several muscles in a muscle group.
The pain associated with muscle spasms can vary from burning, to sharp stabbing, tightness, numbness, or severe pain. While some muscle spasms dont interfere with normal activities, others can be debilitating and last for days/weeks.
Hot Fomentation For Sudden Back Spasm
Hot fomentation is perhaps the most accessible way of all as it can be done with things available at home. For this, first, take a bowl of water, and heat it over the gas stove to a temperature of around 45 degrees. Add a tablespoon of salt to it and take a thick towel.
Now, dip the towel on it and squeeze it, then apply over the painful areas on your low back. This is the best and most effective method because, in hot fomentation, the steam absorbs quickly in the muscles. Do this procedure thill the water comes to a normal temperature.
Apply hot fomentation twice or thrice daily.
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Find A Comfortable Position To Sleep Or Rest
Infographic:Pillows for Neck Pain
A back muscle strain can make it difficult to sleep. For a more comfortable position to rest or sleep, try to keep your spine naturally aligned:
- For people who prefer sleeping on the back, place a pillow underneath your knees to reduce stress on your lower back.4
- For people who prefer sleeping on the side, place a pillow between your knees to help maintain balanced hips and natural spine alignment.
When resting during the day, it may be uncomfortable to sit. Consider using a recliner instead, which puts less stress on your lower back.
Bird Dog Hip Extension
Why its beneficial:
The bird dog hip extension helps to stabilize your lower back as well as your abdominal muscles.
Kneel on a mat with both hands down and arms shoulder-width apart.
Start by engaging and tightening your core muscles.
Slowly straighten one leg behind you while maintaining a flat back.
Return the straightened leg back to the starting position.
Repeat on the other side.
Perform 10 repetitions, while holding each for 20-30 seconds.
If this causes any discomfort, lift your leg only several inches off the ground rather than reaching full extension.
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Cbd Creams For Back Pain
CBD cream will not treat the underlying cause of a persons back pain. Instead, it may help by numbing or alleviating the pain. A person should consider speaking with a medical professional to assess the root cause of for their back pain.
This section lists a few CBD creams to consider for numbing or alleviating back pain.
Please note that the writer of this article has not tried these products. All information presented is purely research-based and correct at the time of publication.
Medical News Today follows a strict product selection and vetting process. Learn more here.
How To Use Cbd Cream
People can apply CBD cream to their skin as they would any other lotion. However, it is important to follow the instructions on the product packaging. Individuals should start by applying a small amount of the cream and gradually increase the amount they use as necessary.
If a person experiences any reactions, such as redness or inflammation, they should stop using the product immediately and contact a healthcare professional.
The Food and Drug Administration has only approved one CBD product, Epidiolex, a prescription medication for certain types of seizures.
Generally, people tolerate CBD well. However, the warns that CBD can cause some side effects, including:
Below, we answer some frequently asked questions about CBD.
What Do Guidelines Recommend
In many Western countries, clinical guidelines have been issued for the management of low back pain. In general, recommendations are similar across guidelines. Box 2 summarises the main recommendations for diagnosis and treatment for acute low back pain from 11 countries.21 For chronic low back pain, far fewer guidelines are available. Box 3 shows the recommendations from the recently issued European clinical guidelines for chronic low back pain.22 It must be noted, however, that these recommendations are made by a single guideline committee.
Relief At Home & Work
Rest is commonly helpful in reducing back pain, especially if caused by a muscle strain. Often, topical creams may reduce some back pain if its cause is related to muscle strain or aches. Hot and cold compresses may relieve symptoms related to muscle ache or strain as well. Hot baths with Epsom salt may also provide relief from pain.
Focusing on prevention is an effective strategy. Eating a healthy diet, with plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, and reducing stress can also reduce the discomfort of back pain. Alternative therapies may help some people suffering from back pain. Common alternative therapies include yoga, meditation, massage, and acupuncture.
Posture plays an important role in some cases of back pain, especially for those with poor posture. Assess your posture at home and at work. Are you in one position most of the time? If seated, do you have good lower back support? Try adding a cushion or trying a more supportive chair. Try to change position frequently and take breaks to walk around once or twice an hour.
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Improve Your Posture To Reduce Back Pain
Most of us spend a good part of our day sitting down, which may be more harmful than you realize. You can minimize the impact by maintaining good posture. Correct posture in a chair means having all the bones in your spine lined up neatly, like a stack of perfectly aligned blocks. You should keep your feet flat on the floor and your computer keyboard within easy reach so youre not leaning forward or slumping. This is part of proper office ergonomics.
Many apps and devices exist that can help you enhance your posture. If you work at a computer all day, try the software and app Posture Man Pat. This free app interacts with the webcam on your screen, tracking where your face is relative to your screen. If your posture starts to droop and curve, the app will alert you.
If you are looking to get really tech-savvy, try the Lumo Lift Posture Coach. This wearable device has a sensor that will vibrate when you change your posture from what the posture coach is calibrated to.
Change It Up After A Day Or Two Of Rest
After 24 to 72 hours, you may consider:
- Switching from ice to heat therapy. Place a heat pack or electric heating pad against your back. The warmth will increase blood flow to the injured area and may soothe your strained muscles and connective tissues.1 Heat therapy can also reduce stiffness so you can more easily get up and exercise. Apply heat therapy for up to 20 minutes at a time with 2 hours of rest in between. When using a heating pad, always follow the directions carefully to reduce the risk for a burn.
- Gentle exercises and stretches. Dont stay immobile for too long. Your muscles could become weaker, leading to more pain and stiffness. Get up and walk around, even if for just a few minutes at a time. Incorporate gentle stretching exercises into your day to restore your mobility and protect your back against future injury.
Some pain and stiffness are usually expected for a week or two as your muscles heal. If your symptoms dont improve or continue to interfere with daily activities, contact your health care provider.
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Heat And Ice For Back Pain
A hot water bottle or heat pad may help ease muscle spasm and pain. Make sure your skin is protected dont put heat pads directly on your skin. You can buy pads that you put over your clothing on the area that hurts. These are available from pharmacies and last for several hours.
Ice packs may also be helpful, especially in the first few days of any injury. Make sure you wrap the ice pack in a towel to protect your skin. You can apply the pack to the area that hurts for 15 minutes at a time.
Back Spasms: Symptoms Treatment And More
Do you feel a sudden tightness in your back or pain in your back muscles in the morning?
Did you overexert yourself at the gym, or could it just be the way you slept?
Sleeping in an awkward way, training too hard at the gym, bending, lifting, or standing can sometimes cause a back spasm.
Back pain is one of the most common medical problems in the United States it can occur from both extreme exertion and doing innocuous tasks, and the worst part is your likelihood of experiencing it increases with age.
Almost 65 million Americans have recently experienced back pain, hitting the country with $12 billion a year in health care costs.
Sometimes it may resolve on its own, as long as you take it easy in the meantime, and sometimes, you may need to see a doctor for proper treatment.
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About Author: Luke Legner
Luke Legner is a writing coordinator at OSF HealthCare. He joined the Ministry in April 2021 after several years working in corporate communications in the heavy equipment industry. A Pontiac native, he graduated from Illinois State University in 2002 where he earned a bachelors degree in mass communication.Luke and his wife, Ashley, reside in Bloomington and have one son and two daughters. When hes not tackling a home improvement project, you can usually find Luke watching his beloved Chicago Cubs or The Andy Griffith Show.
How To Prevent Future Back Spasms
The best way to reduce your risk of another painful episode is to stay active, says Dr. Hanscom. He recommends both aerobic exercise and strength training. The stronger your core muscles are, the less likely they are to spasm, he explains.
Need suggestions? Dr. Hanscom recommends yoga and tai chi, both of which are good for back pain. At home, you can also do knee-to-chest stretches, planks, hip bridges and bird dogs.
And if you lift anything heavy, do it properly: Keep your knees bent and tighten your abdominal muscles, rather than reaching your arms out.Optum Perks can help you save money! to receive access to a catalog of coupons that work at more than 64,000 U.S. pharmacies.
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How Do You Know If Back Pain Is Muscle Or Disc
While pain in your mid-back may be related to a disc, it’s more likely caused by muscle strain or other issues. Your symptoms feel worse when you bend or straighten up from a bent position. Movement can increase pressure on the herniated disc and the surrounding nerves, causing symptoms to increase.
Avoid Prolonged Static Posture
It is important to pay attention to the joints and muscles of your spine and hip. Prevent fatigue and stresses on these joints by following simple tips, such as:
- Avoid excessive sitting or consider using a standing desk while you work. When you sit for a long duration, the pressure on your spinal discs increase. Aim to get up every hour and walk a short distance to take the load off your discs.
When you have a flare-up of symptoms, consider less exertive activities, such as reading a book, listening to music, or crafting. These activities can help divert your mind from the pain and let your back rest at the same time.
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Dont Slump Over Your Desk
When sitting in an office chair, use the same good posture techniques you use when standing. Its critical to keep good posture and support your back when sitting down, especially if you do it for several hours per day. Choose a quality chair that provides firm support for your lower back, and make sure your knees are a little higher than your hips when you sit.
When Is Surgery A Good Idea For Back Pain
These red flags can be indicators for surgery, if theyre found to berelated to your spine condition:
- New or progressing bowel/bladder issues
- Weakness in limbs
- Gait and balance problems
- Evidence of increased reflexes
Surgery can also be an option for chronic back pain if there is a knowncause confirmed by imaging and if other treatments didnt help. Getopinions from at least two surgeons, suggests Nava, as pain can stillcome back after the surgery.
Immediate Treatment For A Back Muscle Strain
When your back muscle fibers become overstretched or torncalled a back muscle strainyour bodys natural response is to initiate an inflammatory cascade1, which causes swelling and may be accompanied by painful spasms. Quick treatment may help reduce symptoms and speed recovery. Heres how:
Lower back strain, also referred to as a pulled muscle, is caused by damage to the muscles and ligaments of the lower back. Watch:Lower Back Strain Video
Preventing Lower Back Spasms In The Future
Lifestyle changes are the key to reducing your chances of suffering from lower back spasms in the future. Here are some of the most effective changes you can make:2,3,4,6
- Improve your posture by sitting and standing up straight.
- If youre overweight, lose weight to reduce stress on your spine and lower back.
- Engage in regular physical activity to strengthen your back and abdominal muscles.
- Avoid wearing high-heeled shoes for long periods.
- Dont spend too much time sitting or lying in bed as this can worsen back problems.
- When youre resting in bed, your upper body should be slightly inclined. Place a pillow under your knees to reduce stress on your lower back.
- Start an exercise program gradually and work your way up to a more intense workout. Always perform stretches and warm-up exercises before your workout.
- Practice yoga, tai-chi, meditation, or mindfulness to improve mobility and relieve stress and anxiety.
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Ways To Treat Chronic Back Pain Without Surgery
Back pain is considered chronic if it lasts three months or longer. It cancome and go, often bringing temporary relief, followed by frustration.Dealing with chronic back pain can be especially trying if you dont knowthe cause.
Does Psychosocial Intervention Prevent Chronicity
Although evidence certainly shows the contribution of psychosocial factors to the development of chronic low back pain and disability, less is known about the efficacy of interventions aimed at patients identified with increased risk due to these factors. A recently published clinical trial did not find positive effects of a specifically designed intervention to be applied by general practitioners for patients with acute or subacute low back pain.20 The intervention focused on the identification of psychosocial prognostic factorsdiscussing these factors with the patient, setting specific goals for reactivation, and providing an educational booklet. Compared with usual care, however, no differences were found on any outcome measure during a year long follow-up. Also, in currently available clinical guidelines, no clear recommendations are given regarding the optimal treatment of patients at risk once they have been identified. The development and evaluation of interventions aimed at prevention of chronicity is of utmost importance in the coming years.
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When To See Your Doctor
If youve been experiencing muscle and joint pain following a bout with COVID-19 and its not getting better with time, its probably time to see your doctor.
In cases like this, your primary care provider will usually refer you to a physical therapist, Kristine said. The first evaluation will take about an hour, and thats when the therapist gets to know you, finds out whats troubling you and develops a treatment plan.
But in addition to physical therapy, patients may also be referred to behavioral and mental health services due to the psychological impact of their COVID-19 experience.
People who have had difficult experiences with COVID, such as those who spent a long time with it in the hospital, may have various psychological symptoms as a result, such as depression, anxiety, stress and fear, Kristine added. These symptoms can amplify how they perceive pain in their physical bodies.