Your Pain Becomes Worse With Certain Movements
Pulled muscle pain will usually be more intense within the first few hours of sustaining this type of injury. You may also notice pain that gets worse with certain movements. For instance, discomfort may suddenly worsen if you bend, get up from a seated position to a standing position, or even with certain sleeping positions.
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How To Know When Back Pain Is Muscular
If youve ever suffered from aches and pains in your back, youre not alone: According to the American Association of Neurological Surgeons, 75 to 85 percent of Americans experience back pain at some point in their lives.
But knowing whats causing your pain can be challenging. The most common complaint is what we characterize as non-specific low back pain, which means we havent identified a specific underlying source for why that individual has back pain, says Craig Van Dien, M.D., a sports medicine and physical medicine and rehabilitation physician at JFK Johnson Rehabilitation Institute. In most cases, this is muscle-based pain or a muscle strain.
Common Symptoms Of A Pulled Back Muscle
Symptoms to expect from a pulled lower back muscleor any type of lower back straintypically include:
- Dull, achy low back pain. Strained muscles usually feel sore, tight, or achy. Pain that feels hot, tingling, or electric is more likely caused by an irritated nerve root, not a pulled muscle.
- Intensified pain with movement. Low back strain typically worsens with specific movements that activate the affected muscles. For example, there may be a flare-up of pain when getting up from a seated position, when bending forward, or when first getting out of bed in the morning.
- Pain that is localized in the low back. Pain is usually concentrated in the lower back. It may also be felt in the buttocks and/or hips, as these muscles help support the low back. Rarely does pain travel down the legs and into the calves and feet, as in cases of sciatica.
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Back Pain Treatment Aims
PHASE I Pain Relief & Protection
Managing your back pain is why you seek treatment for low back pain. In truth, it was the final symptom that you developed and should be the first symptom to improve.
Your physiotherapist will use various treatment tools to protect your back and reduce your pain and inflammation. These include ice, electrotherapy, e.g. tens, acupuncture, taping techniques, soft tissue massage, back braces. Your doctor may also recommend a course of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen.
PHASE II Restoring Normal ROM, Strength
As your back pain and inflammation settle, your physiotherapist will turn their attention to restoring your normal back motion. They will also assess your muscle lengths and resting muscle tension, muscle strength and endurance, proprioception, balance and gait .
Your physiotherapist will commence you on a lower back core stability program to facilitate your important muscles that dynamically control and stabilise your low back and pelvis. Your physiotherapist will assess your muscle recruitment pattern and prescribe the best exercises for you, specific to your needs.
PHASE III Restoring Full Function
Your physiotherapist will tailor your rehabilitation to help you achieve your own functional goals.
PHASE IV Preventing a Back Pain Recurrence
Apply Cold To The Pulled Back Muscle
You should apply ice to your injury as soon as possible. The sooner you apply the ice the more it will help.
The cold will cause nearby blood vessels to constrict and also help minimize swelling and painful inflammation.
The cold also stimulates your body to rush more oxygen-rich blood full of antibodies and vital nutrients to repair the injury and carry away waste products as it attempts to warm the area.
Use an ice pack, a Ziploc bag of crushed ice, or even a bag of frozen vegetables in a pinch.
Apply the cold pack in a circular massaging motion to prevent the ice from resting in one place too long.
Be sure to place a thin towel between the compress and your skin to help prevent frostbite.
Ice can be applied up to 20 minutes at a time. Repeat over the course of the first few days, or after flare-ups.
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Inflammation And Muscle Spasm
When soft tissues in the low back are stretched or torn, the surrounding area will typically become inflamed.
Inflammation, or local swelling, is part of the bodys natural response to injury, in which blood is rushed to an injured tissue in order to restore it. Inflamed muscles may spasm, feel tender to the touch, or cramp , and contract tightly, causing intense pain.
When & How To Seek Medical Care
If low back pain lasts for longer than one to two weeks, seek medical care. First, make an appointment with your primary care physician.
Seek immediate medical attention if any of the following symptoms are present in addition to back pain:
- Severe abdominal pain
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Exercises To Help Lower Back Pain
The exercises below are meant to strengthen and improve flexibility in your muscles to support your lower back. Lower back pain may be recurring or a one-time experience. Doing these back strengthening exercises daily will ease lower back pain and prevent future episodes by strengthening your abdominal, hip, and back muscles.
Knee to Chest Stretch
This stretch is an easy way to warm up for your workout.
âStep 1: Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor.
âStep 2: Use both hands to pull one knee into your chest.
âStep 3: Tighten your abdominals and press your spine to the floor. Hold for 5 seconds.
âStep 4: Return to the starting position and repeat on the other side.
You can repeat this stretch 2 to 3 times in the morning and at night.
Lower Back Rotational Stretch
This is another easy stretch to get your muscles ready to move.
âStep 1: Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor.
âStep 2: Keep your shoulders firmly on the floor, roll your bent knees to one side and hold for 5 to 10 seconds.
âStep 3: Return to the starting position and repeat on the other side.
You can repeat this 2 to 3 times in the morning and night.
Glute Bridges Exercise
This exercise aims to strengthen your glute and abdominal muscles.
âStep 1: Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor.
âStep 3: Hold the position as long as you can, starting with 3 deep breaths. Then return to the starting position.
Sprain And Strain Risk Management And Support Groups
Basic self-care and routine cooldown exercises are some of the best ways to avoid active sprain and strains. Aside from reducing the amount of inflammation after physical exercise, these exercises can also help alleviate strained nerves and allow the body to recover from fatigue. It also accelerates the healing process from strenuous physical activity.
You should also be aware of other, unexpected factors that can affect your likelihood of developing a strain or sprain. Improper stretching is one of the most probable causes, either due to weight lifting or just moving around. While stretching is a great way to avoid developing sprains and strains, improper stretching is also their most likely cause.
Doctors may also recommend that their patients join a support group for their back pain. These support groups can help patients engage in physical activities or provide a network to consult if the doctor isnt available. Most support groups can be found online, like The American Chronic Pain Association.
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S To Quickly Recover From A Pulled Back Muscle
Medically reviewed by Dr. Brian Paris, D.C on Nov. 6, 2018.
If you havent already, you probably will at some point experience a pulled back muscle. Theyre the most common cause of low back pain.
It could happen during a game of golf, while cleaning the garage, or even on the dance floor.
While we often tend to refer to any soft tissue pain in the back as a pulled back muscle, were really talking about two separate kinds of back injuries strains and sprains.
In this article, Ill show you the difference between those injuries and how to quickly recover from pulled back muscles without taking drugs like NSAIDs.
Back Exercises And Stretches
Simple back exercises and stretches can often help reduce back pain. These can be done at home as often as you need to.
For information about exercises and stretches that can help, see:
A GP may be able to provide information about back exercises if youâre unsure what to try, or you may want to consider seeing a physiotherapist for advice. Read about how to get access to physiotherapy.
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Is It A Pinched Nerve Or Pulled Muscle In The Lower Back
A pulled muscle occurs when you tear or overstretch some of the muscle fibers. This can happen if you overwork the muscle or twist it too hard. You will probably notice pain and swelling, and the area will be tender to the touch. You may even notice redness or bruising.
A pinched nerve, or nerve compression, happens when pressure in an area causes the nerve impulses to become partially blocked. You may experience a radiating, burning pain in the affected area.
While a pulled muscle in your lower back could potentially cause a pinched nerve, this can also be caused by a herniated disc in your spine. If you feel radiant pain that extends into your legs, see a doctor right away.
How Long Does It Take For A Pulled Back Muscle To Heal
Lower back pain is caused mainly an injury to soft tissues in the lower part of the spine, which affects the muscles, ligaments and tendons.
When you suffer from a pulled muscle in the lower back, it takes between four to six weeks to heal in mild cases. This is the standard pulled back muscle recovery time according to doctors.
However, when it comes to severe cases where there is extensive muscle tear, this can take several months to heal.
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Use Cold First Then Switch To Heat Therapy
During the initial few days after the strain injury, your muscle tissues begin to repair. The healing process causes inflammation to occur within the healing muscle fibers. The use of cold and heat therapy can help reduce inflammation in the following ways:
- Cold therapy is surprisingly effective in reducing pain, muscle spasm, swelling, and inflammation.1,3,4 An ice pack, ice cubes wrapped in a towel, or a bag of frozen vegetables can be used to cool down your muscle fibers.
It is best to use cold therapy during the initial day or two after your injury followed by heat therapy. Avoid using cold therapy for too long, because excessive cooling may slow down the natural healing process of the muscle tissue.1,3,4
It is important to use heat and cold as tolerated, intermittently for 15 to 20 minutes at a time, and with a 2-hour break in betweento avoid skin and/or nerve damage. Heat therapy can be used for longer, provided the heat is a low-level, such as with a commercial heat wrap.
Whats The Difference Between A Strain And A Sprain
A strain happens when you injure either a muscle or a tendon. Your tendons are tough, fibrous tissues that connect your muscle to your bone.
When you are experiencing back strain, it means that you have twisted, pulled or torn the muscles or tendons that support your spine. If you stretch a muscle too much, you actually cause small tears in the muscle fibers.
A sprain, on the other hand, occurs when you stretch a ligament too far or tear it. Ligaments are the fibrous tissues that connect your bones at your joints.
Sprains and strains may not sound like serious injuries, but the back pain they cause can really hurt!
In fact, the pain can be so excruciating that some people are convinced theyve done something terrible to their back and that theyll need surgery.
The good news is you definitely wont need surgery. Pulled muscles in the back usually heal within days or weeks on their own.
Please note, if you have severe, constant pain that keeps you from sleeping, experience a loss of bladder or bowel control or have progressive lower extremity weakness, you may have a more serious injury to your lumbar spine and should be evaluated by a professional.
Although its possible to have a pulled muscle anywhere in your back, these strains and sprains most often occur in the lumbar region, or your lower back. One of the most common symptoms of a pulled back muscle islower left side back pain.
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Rest And Ice Or Heat Therapy
The final step in this treatment process involves resting, using ice and heat therapy, and prevention methods to reduce the chance of straining your back again. Read more about the R.I.C.E. method here.) Its no surprise that the benefit of resting during the recovery process is to help give your muscles a break from the work they typically endure every day. But this part can be a tricky as most doctors suggest you do not completely do bed rest but that you lower the number of activities instead.
Ice and heat therapy is a crucial part of treatment for your back muscle relief. Using heat can help open up your blood vessels, which promotes healing in your tissues, tendons, and muscles. Ice, on the other hand, narrows your blood vessels, which helps to reduce any swelling that you might be suffering from. Using a heat and ice therapy wrap can help you easily switch from applying hot and cold to your lower back.
And finally, another aspect of this step involves prevention methods to help you avoid straining, pulling, or tearing your back in the future. There are many different ways to help prevent a pulled back muscle including:
- Sleep on your back or side
- Correct your posture. Try using a posture brace like this one to train your muscles to remain in the right position
What Causes Lumbar Strain
Injury can damage the tendons and muscles in the lower back. Pushing and pulling sports, such as weight lifting or football, can lead to a lumbar strain. In addition, sports that require sudden twisting of the lower back, such as in tennis, basketball, baseball, and golf, can lead to this injury. Certain risk factors, such as excessive lower back curvature, forward-tilted pelvis, weak back, or abdominal muscles, and tight hamstrings, can increase the risk for this injury.
Risk Factors For Pulled Back Muscles
While that pulled back muscle may seem to come on suddenly, chances are it was a long time coming.
You could be ignoring some very important warning signs. Which means if youre not in pain now, you might want to sit up and pay attention.
Do you sit in a chair all day? Do you exercise incorrectly? Are you under tremendous stress? Are you dehydrated? Are you substantially overweight?
Did you honestly answer yes to one or more of those questions?
If so, then youre at greater risk of muscle imbalances, trigger point pain, and at higher risk for injuries like a pulled back muscle.
But when you do experience pulled back muscles what do you do?
Well cover that more in the next section.
Key takeaway: There are several risk factors that can make you more susceptible to pulled back muscles, including stress, poor posture, being overweight and even how hydrated you are.
Pulled Back Muscle Treatment
Learn about muscle anatomy and the symptoms of lower back strain. WatchLower Back Strain Video
Aggressive chiropractic manipulation should be avoided at the onset of treatment. It is best to restore health in a very gradual and dedicated process, watching for worsening symptoms versus improvement.
Ultimately, the severity of a muscle injury will determine what kind of treatment is necessary.
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Pulled Muscle In Lower Back Exercises
There are several exercises you can perform to help your lower back heal. Not only will they help the muscle spasms you may be having, they make your back stronger so its not as likely to become injured again.
Here are a few easy stretching exercises. Take them slowly and move gradually into each position. If any of these make your back pain worse, stop and see a doctor.
When To See A Doctor
If the pain has not eased after 12 weeks, a person should see a doctor.
In some circumstances, a person may need to go to the emergency department or call 911. It is important to seek medical help if:
- a person hears a crack when they sustain the injury
- the injured part of the back is numb, discolored, or cold to the touch
- sit in a chair with lumbar support
The following tips may also be beneficial:
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