Symptoms Of A Pulled Back Muscle
Symptoms of a pulled back muscle depend on where the injury is. The spine is divided into three major sections: the neck, upper back and shoulders, and lower back.
For a pulled muscle in the neck, you might experience:3
- Pain in the neck and upper back area
- Limited range of motion in the neck
- Stiffness in the neck
- Pain radiating to the shoulders or arms
Pulled muscles in the shoulders and upper back may cause:
- Pain in the area between the spine and shoulder blade
- Muscle spasms in the upper back
- Knots and tightness in the upper back and shoulders
- Pain when moving the shoulders
In lower back strain injuries, many people experience symptoms such as:3
- Aching and stiffness in lower back muscles
- Pain that worsens with movement
- Pain that radiates to the hips and legs
- Limited range of motion
- Muscle spasms in lower back area
- Pain when sitting, standing, or walking
How Does Heat Therapy Work
When placing a heated object on the skin, this starts a process called vasodialation, which enlarges the blood vessels and relaxes the muscles. Healing nutrients and oxygen rush to the affected area to help it heal. This improved blood flow also helps cellular waste exit the area more efficiently, enabling your muscles to do likewise.
Heat therapy can be administered through many forms, such as hot water packs, hot stone, or warm towels. Soaking in hot baths is another popular form of heat therapy that is regularly used by back pain sufferers and anyone looking for relaxation.
Four Common Reasons For A Stiff Back
We live busy, active lives. In our average day we deal with stress and anxiety that can live in our muscles and make us feel tense. But when is a stiff back caused by an underlying condition beyond tension? Knowing some of the possible causes for back stiffness can help you and your doctor determine the best treatment for you.
While its true that sometimes back stiffness can be caused by a disc disorder, chronic condition, or aging process, the stiffness could also be rooted in a muscular issue that may not even be in your actual back. Here are some muscular conditions that may cause back stiffness:
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Can Back Pain Be Prevented
Recurring back pain resulting from improper body mechanics may be prevented by avoiding movements that jolt or strain the back, maintaining correct posture, and lifting objects properly. Many work-related injuries are caused or aggravated by stressors such as heavy lifting, contact stress , vibration, repetitive motion, and awkward posture.Recommendations for keeping ones back healthy
What Causes Facet Joint Sprain
Facet joint sprain can be caused by a quick, sudden movement when reaching over or sustaining an awkward back position for too long eg falling asleep on the couch. The joints in your back that join one vertebrae to another one below, called facet joints, stiffen and cause the surrounding muscles to go into spasm.
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So You Feel Like Turning Japanese
Like the 80s English band, The Vapors, you might feel like turning Japanese, but of course you cant. You might not be able to move to Japan or even buy sushi where you live. But you could have your own amazing miniature Japanese doll house! This one is sold as a kit from Billy, a Japanese dollhouse company.
Exercises For A Stiff Back
No matter the cause of your stiff back, adding some gentle stretching and strengthening exercises to your daily routine will almost always help. Excellent examples that you can get away with doing in your office, or anywhere that you have a bit of floor space, include:
Seated Back Rotation
Supine Back Stretches
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Medical Conditions That Cause Back Pain
Conditions that can cause back pain include:
- a slipped disc this can cause back pain and numbness, tingling and weakness in other parts of the body
- sciatica this can cause pain, numbness, tingling and weakness in the lower back, buttocks, legs and feet
- ankylosing spondylitis this causes pain and stiffness that’s usually worse in the morning and improves with movement
- spondylolisthesis this can cause lower back pain and stiffness, as well as numbness and a tingling sensation
These conditions are treated differently to non-specific back pain.
Very rarely, back pain can be a sign of a serious problem such as:
- a broken bone in the spine
- an infection
- cauda equina syndrome
- some types of cancer, such as multiple myeloma
If you see a GP with back pain, they’ll look for signs of these.
Page last reviewed: 14 January 2020 Next review due: 14 January 2023
What Are The Treatments For Lower Back Pain
Lower back pain usually gets better with rest, ice and over-the-counter pain relievers. After a few days of rest, you can start to get back to your normal activities. Staying active increases blood flow to the area and helps you heal.
Other treatments for lower back pain depend on the cause. They include:
- Medications: Your provider may recommend nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or prescription drugs to relieve pain. Other medications relax muscles and prevent back spasms.
- Physical therapy : PT can strengthen muscles so they can support your spine. PT also improves flexibility and helps you avoid another injury.
- Hands-on manipulation: Several hands-on treatments can relax tight muscles, reduce pain and improve posture and alignment. Depending on the cause of pain, you may need osteopathic manipulation or chiropractic adjustments. Massage therapy can also help with back pain relief and restore function.
- Injections: Your provider uses a needle to inject medication into the area thats causing pain. Steroid injections relieve pain and reduce inflammation.
- Surgery: Some injuries and conditions need surgical repair. There are several types of surgery for low back pain, including many minimally invasive techniques.
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How Is Lumbar Strain Diagnosed
In addition to a complete medical history and physical exam, diagnostic procedures for low back pain may include the following. However, during many initial assessments and exams, specialized tests aren’t usually recommended.
- X-ray. A diagnostic test that produces images of internal tissues, bones, and organs onto film.
- Computed tomography scan . This is an imaging test that uses X-rays and a computer to make detailed images of the body. A CT scan shows details of the bones, muscles, fat, and organs. A CT scan shows detailed images of bones, muscles, fat, and organs.
- Magnetic resonance imaging . A diagnostic procedure that uses a combination of large magnets, radiofrequencies, and a computer to produce detailed images of organs and structures within the body.
- Radionuclide bone scan. A nuclear imaging technique that uses a very small amount of radioactive material, which is injected into the bloodstream to be detected by a scanner. This test shows blood flow to the bone and cell activity within the bone.
- Electromyogram . A test to evaluate nerve and muscle function.
Get Enough Restorative Sleep
Pain is a leading cause of insomniadifficulty with falling asleep and/or staying asleep. Inadequate sleep can also make your back pain worse. This vicious cycle makes it more difficult for you to get restorative sleep.
Getting enough restorative sleep is needed for the bodys tissues to heal and recharge energy levels. If you have trouble sleeping, it is important to address pain or other factors that are causing it. Your doctor might recommend lifestyle changes, medications, or other treatments depending on what is disrupting your sleep.
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Causes And Diagnosis Of A Pulled Back Muscle
Trauma, stress, and tension may all cause strains and sprains. Some of the most common causes include:
- Falling, especially if you hit the ground hard or fall in an awkward position.
- Repetitive movements that stress and irritate the back muscles.
- Unsafe lifting, lifting while twisting, or lifting a very heavy object. Parents sometimes injure their backs throwing or playing with children.
- Excess weight that puts excess strain on back muscles. People who are overweight, people who suddenly gain weight, and pregnant women are more vulnerable to pulled muscles.
- A sedentary lifestyle. This may weaken the back, increasing the risk of injuries.
- Poor posture when sitting or bad form when doing athletic activities.
A medical professional may suspect a strain or sprain based on symptoms and your medical history. If another injury, such as a broken bone or herniated disc, is possible, the provider may do other tests, such as an x-ray or MRI scan.3
Physical Therapy For An Achy Back
While resting is key, its important to remain active in the right way. A moderate amount of physical activity will help maintain and improve your mobility. Start with a light workout plan. If youre not sure what to do, talk to your doctor or physical therapist.
A physical therapist may have you do exercises that widen the spaces between your vertebrae and reduce pressure on nerves. You may also be advised to stretch your back and hip muscles and do exercises to strengthen your abdominal muscles.
You could also try massage therapy as an additional way to ease the pain as you continue with your other treatments. Massages have been known to give temporary relief effectively. You can try simple self-massage exercises that are safe to do at home or see a professional.
Spinal manipulation therapy from a chiropractor, osteopathic physician, or physical therapist is another treatment to consider. Spinal manipulation is a common complementary treatment for both children and adults and has been used to treat several pain conditions, including sciatica, low-back pain, neck pain, and headaches.
It is also worth asking your doctor or physical therapist if they recommend any medical appliances. These can range from cushions, supports, traction devices, binders, specialized exercise products, and a transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation device.
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Sitting With Your Spine Curved Forward
When you sit for a long time, the following changes occur in your spine:
- Increased pressure within each spinal segment3
- Reduced strength in the muscles of your upper and lower back3,4
- Decreased nutrient supply to the spinal tissues3
When you sit on the edge of your chair or hunch towards your computer, the strain on your spine is moreand can cause stiffness and pain.
A sedentary lifestyle can exacerbate these changes, causing spinal stiffness to develop within an hour of sitting.4
To avoid back stiffness, use an upright sitting posture. Roll your shoulders back with the ears over the shoulders and the upper arms parallel to your torso. While sitting in an office chair try to avoid constant use of the backrest and sit upright to activate your core muscles.
Maintain Your Hip Flexibility And You Will Win Half The Battle
Most people are reluctant to exercise in order to reduce their stiffness. You dont need to be. The type that I recommend and perform myself everyday will keep your hips very well conditioned and will help to minimize your pain.
Over time, with age, lack of conditioning and injury, we become prone to waking up with stiffness. We are no longer able to naturally maintain the level of flexibility as we did as when we were younger.
Sometimes, our muscles are not able to recover fully from our busy schedule the night before.
Thats why Hip Shifting is crucial.
If you keep performing this hip shift method to keep your hips mobile, they wont tighten up overnight. Its when they get tighter as you sleep that causes a lot of your discomfort.
Not only will your muscles remain tight overnight, your muscle conditioning and tone weakens also. Injury, inflammation and nerve pain also causes us to avoid certain movements in favor to avoid discomfort. By avoiding, youll keep the muscles tense overnight. In most situations youre not even sure what the cause is.
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Steroid Injections For Back Pain
An epidural steroid injection is a common way to treat several forms of back pain. It is a trusted and often essential method of non-invasive treatment for lower back pain and sciatica. It involves injecting a local anesthetic and a steroid medication directly into the epidural space around the spinal cord and nerve roots.
What Can I Do About Acute Back Or Neck Pain
The key to recovering from acute back or neck pain is restricting your activity and taking over the counter medications, because most back pain is related to muscle strain. In most cases, acute back pain will go away on its own over a period of days. Here are some tips that will help you recover:
1. Take it easy If you think you’ve hurt your back, ease up on the pressure you’re putting on your back. Many people actually have little choice in the mattertheir back pain will force them to drop to their knees or “freeze” in a bent-over position. Others will be able to function somewhat normally, but with uncomfortable pain. Contrary to popular belief, studies on acute back pain actually show that a few days of restricting your activity, and taking the appropriate over-the-counter medication, is all that many people really need to allow the strained muscles to relax and unbind. However, it is important to talk with your health care provider before taking any medication, especially if you are taking other medications or have a chronic medical condition.
2. Ice, then heat Remember this rule: “Ice first for 48 hours, then heat.” Ice and heat can alleviate local pain that comes from muscle and ligament strain. Ice slows swelling and inflammation and acts as a local anesthetic, but after 48 hours, it loses its effect. Using heat afterwards increases blood flow to the deep tissues and relaxes muscle spasms.
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How Is Lumbar Strain Treated
Specific treatment for a lumbar strain will be discussed with you by your healthcare provider based on:
- Your age, overall health, and medical history
- Extent of the injury
- Your tolerance for specific medicines, procedures, and therapies
- Expectation for the course of the injury
- Your opinion or preference
- Ice packs and/or heat and compression applied to the back
- Stretching and strengthening exercises
- Education regarding the use and wearing of appropriate protective equipment
Medicines, such as anti-inflammatories and spinal injections, may also be used to relieve pain and inflammation.
How Is Lower Back Pain Diagnosed
Your provider will ask about your symptoms and do a physical exam. To check for broken bones or other damage, your provider may order imaging studies. These studies help your provider see clear pictures of your vertebrae, disks, muscles, ligaments and tendons.
Your provider may order:
- Spine X-ray, which uses radiation to produce images of bones.
- MRI, which uses a magnet and radio waves to create pictures of bones, muscles, tendons and other soft tissues.
- CT scan, which uses X-rays and a computer to create 3D images of bones and soft tissues.
Depending on the cause of pain, your provider may also order blood tests or urine tests. Blood tests can detect genetic markers for some conditions that cause back pain . Urine tests check for kidney stones, which cause pain in the flank .
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Should I Run With Back Pain
Running or jogging is a great way to stay healthy, and a great way to get a workout when going to the gym isnt an option. But what if running hurts your back? Or what if your back hurts when youre done? Why does this happen?
Between long commutes in the car, long days in the office, and binge-watching our favorite shows on Netflix, we tend do more sitting than our bodies are built to do. Sitting for long periods of time increases the pressure on the discs in your spine, causes the muscles in your upper and lower back to lose strength, and can decrease the supply of nutrients to your spinal tissue.
Avoiding back stiffness and pain from prolonged sitting can be allayed by sitting with the correct posture and performing a few basic movements and stretches to keep your muscles working. Roll your shoulders back with the ears over the shoulders and the upper arms parallel to your torso. While sitting in an office chair try to avoid constant use of the backrest and sit upright to activate your core muscles.