Is It A Pulled Muscle In Your Back Or Something Worse
- DR. HAMID ABBASI
Could the back pain youre suddenly feeling be a pulled muscle? Or could it be something worse?
Youre out for a morning run and stop to tie your shoe. When you bend forward, you feel a sudden sharp pain in your lower back. Chances are good that youve pulled a back muscle.
In most cases, back pain in the lower back is caused by overstressing the soft tissues that support the lower spine. These muscles and ligaments support the bodys weight and hold the body upright. When they are pushed too far, the result can be a muscle strain or what we commonly call a pulled muscle. You feel it as a sharp, sudden muscle pain or spasm. Depending on the severity of the injury, pain from a pulled muscle can be mild or it can be severe.
What To Do When You Throw Your Back Out
As a major support structure for your body, your back needs to be in good condition for you to complete most everyday tasks. When you throw your back out, you can suddenly and unexpectedly experience acute pain and find your mobility severely limited.
As we age, the cumulative wear and tear on our backs can leave us more susceptible to injury. Preventing and quickly treating back injuries is critical to keep your body healthy and moving well into your advanced years. It is important to discuss any serious back pain or unexpected symptoms with an orthopaedic spine specialist to avoid exacerbating an injury or causing permanent damage.
How Can Back Sprains And Strains Be Prevented
It is not possible to prevent all back injuries, but you can take some steps to help lower the risk of a sprain or strain:
- Eat a healthy, well-balanced diet to keep your bones and muscles strong.
- Maintain a healthy weight. Excess weight puts added stress on the structures of the lower back.
- Exercise regularly, including stretching, to keep your joints flexible and your muscles in good condition.
- Practice safety measures to help prevent falls, such as wearing shoes that fit properly, and keeping stairs and walkways free of clutter.
- Use good body mechanics when sitting, standing and lifting. For example, try to keep your back straight and your shoulders back. When sitting, keep your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Dont over-reach, and avoid twisting movements. When lifting, bend your knees and use your strong leg muscles to help balance the load.
- Stop smoking. Nicotine interferes with blood flow to the muscles.
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Stretching And Strengthening Exercises
Youll want to be very careful your first couple of days, but some light stretching can often reduce pain from a pulled muscle in your lower back by relieving tension. Include both strengthening and stretching exercises.
Try this easy stretch while lying in bed. Gently raise your knees from the bed to your chest, then put a slight pressure on your knees for a light stretch in your lower back.
This stretch can help relieve muscle spasms in your back faster than waiting for them to resolve on their own. The stretch should not add to your pain.
Remember to listen to your body.
Sometimes, back support compression braces can be useful during the healing process. This help keeps your spine stable and can help you from further irritating your lower back when you twist or bend throughout the day.
Compression can also assist in reducing swelling after an injury, so compression braces may be useful.
I dont recommend you wear a compression brace all day, though just for a few hours or when you know youll be most active.
Keeping it on for too long can keep you from healing fully, as you need to be able to strengthen those muscles in order to recover.
Key takeaway: To help your body recover more quickly and reduce pain from a pulled back muscle, alternate cold and heat therapy, use natural anti-inflammatories, get some rest and try gentle stretches.
Epsom Salt Bath To Relieve Strained Muscle In The Back
One way to relax tense muscles and also relax your mind to ease muscle tension is to take a warm bath of Epsom salt.
Dr. Carol DerSarkissian on WebMD says that an Epsom salt bath can help to heal a pulled or strained muscle and ease many aches and pains. It is thought that magnesium and sulfate from the salts penetrate the skin and help relax stiff muscles.19
How to use Epsom salt for muscle repair:
To make a healing bath with Epsom salt to get rid of pain caused by pulled back muscle, this is what you should do:
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How Can I Prevent Low Back Strain
Here are some tips to help you avoid low back strain:
- If you feel any low back pain during physical activity, stop.
- If you feel low back pain within a day of stepping up your workout, take it easy for a few days.
- Get your back in shape. Exercise and stretch your back muscles regularly.
- Avoid sleeping on your stomach. Sleep on your back or your side, and wedge a pillow under or beneath your legs.
- When picking up something heavy, bend at the knees, not at the waist.
- Lose weight if you are overweight.
- Adopt good posture. Sit straight in chairs, with your back against the chair’s back.
What Does It Feel Like When You Throw Your Back Out
When the strained muscle in your back causes a spasm, you will often feel acute pain immediately following the injury. Pain intensity can range from minor to severe and is usually localized around the lumbar area. Many who suffer a thrown-out back lose range of motion and develop a hunched posture. Consistent pain, stiffness and muscle spasms are common symptoms.
With swift treatment at home, thrown-out backs may heal on their own within several days or up to two weeks. However, if you develop certain symptoms, immediate medical attention is often necessary to properly treat the injury.
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Check For Any Other Symptoms
If the pain persists after a few days of rest, it is important to check for any other symptoms that may be related to your pulled-back muscle. These symptoms may include:
- Pain in the muscle itself or in surrounding areas, such as numbness or tingling sensations in the buttocks or legs.
- Certain activities, such as running and jumping, aggravate the pain or cause it to become worse.
- Muscle spasms in the back when attempting movements that require flexibility and reaching.
- Discomfort when urinating or when sitting for extended periods of time.
If you experience any of these symptoms, then this could be an indication of a pulled-back muscle and should be evaluated by a medical professional as soon as possible.
Surgery As A Last Resort
If home remedies and physical therapy don’t make your injury better, you might have a more serious lower back strain. It’s possible to have a complete tear in your muscle, which would require surgery and a longer recovery period. It’s important that you see a doctor if your symptoms don’t get better to rule out this more serious condition.
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Pick Exercises That Feel Good On Your Joints And Allow You To Use A Full Range Of Motion
One of the biggest mistakes people make at the gym is forcing their bodies to perform exercises that just aren’t a good fit. This often happens because of preconceived notions about what we âshouldâ be doing in the weight room.
Be honest with yourself about what does and doesn’t work with your body. “Lots of people choose exercises they cannot execute with proper intent and fail to meet themselves where they are at from a movement capacity and capabilities standpoint,” Showalter says.
It’s liberating to realize that for the vast majority of fitness goals, you don’t need to perform specific exercises. You can use different pieces of equipment, modify your body position or even make a lateral move within a movement pattern and still make progress.
If you experience joint pain during or after a workout, look for ways to modify or replace that particular exercise.
For best results, you should also pick exercises that allow you to use a full range of motion. Many times changing the way you hold the weight or using a different piece of equipment for the same exercise can dramatically improve your range of motion.
How Goodpath Can Help
A back strain can be painful and frustrating. These movements are designed to lessen your discomfort from the strain.
In addition to these exercises, there are other solutions that can help ease your back pain.
Take Goodpaths personalized assessment today. After analyzing your answers, we will build you a personalized treatment plan based on your medical history, your symptoms, and your lifestyle.
Pick Exercises That Align With Your Goals
People come to the gym with different goals. Many want to get stronger or improve their endurance. Others are seeking hypertrophy, which means building bigger muscles. Still, others might be lifting weights to improve performance in a sport or active hobby.
If your main goal is to build strength, you need to choose exercises that allow you to lift heavy loads. You also don’t need a ton of complexity or different exercises in your program. “You can make large gains in your strength with just a few basic lifts done well and consistently,” Hatler says.
If your goal is endurance and you’re doing longer sets, it doesn’t make sense to program technically complex exercises. There are more moving pieces to monitor and you put yourself at risk of injury if your form starts to break down. Instead, pick less complex exercises that allow you to maintain good form even when you’re fatigued.
Chasing hypertrophy allows for a greater range of potential exercises because you can train with a variety of rep ranges and intensities and still build muscle. Choose a mix of compound and isolation movements that follow the other criteria above. If you’re struggling to get a muscle to grow, choose exercises where you can really feel the target muscle working.
More on Different Fitness Goals
Perform Regular Stretching Exercises
Stretching your hip flexor muscles regularly is an important part of preventing and managing lower back pain. Tightness in these muscle groups can increase the pressure and pull on your lower back, potentially leading to injuries or chronic pain. Regularly stretching your hip flexor muscles strengthens the muscles and tendons in the area while also increasing flexibility. This can help to reduce pressure on the lower back, enabling you to move with greater ease.
Performing regular stretches relieves tension and aids in strengthening the hip flexor muscles, including iliopsoas, rectus femoris, tensor fascia latae, sartorius, pectineus, gracilis, and gluteus medius. Here are some examples of stretches that target these particular muscle groups:
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How To Heal A Pulled Muscle In Your Back
A muscle strain, also called a pulled muscle, occurs when a muscle is overstretched or overworked, and small tears occur within the muscle.
A pulled muscle can take up to 6 weeks to heal completely.
You can speed your recovery in many ways:
Self Massage using a simple self-massage tool can promote blood circulation to the injury area in your back and speed up healing significantly.
Infrared Heat Therapy using an infrared heating pad, which emits deep-penetrating IR rays up to 3 cm inside your tissues, can relieve your pain without pills for more than 6 hours post-treatment.
I have the BioMat at home, which is my own personal in-house doctor, and I use it all the time:
Symptoms Of A Strained Back Muscle
As mentioned above, the symptoms of a torn muscle may vary from individual to individual. The severity of your pain may be a result of the cause of your pulled back, your age, or another condition you may currently have.
The most common symptoms of a torn muscle, strained muscle, and pulled muscle include:
- Sore or tenderness in your lower back
- Pain that occurs suddenly
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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
Stretches To Heal Your Sore Back Muscle Pain:
Knee to Chest Stretch:
While lying flat on your back, have your toes point to the sky. Slowly bend your left knee and pull your leg close to your chest. Place your arms around your thigh or knee and pull it towards your chest. Hold this position for 10 seconds, repeat with the other leg.
Double Knee to Chest:
Start by lying on your back with both of your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Next, slowly raise both of your knees to your chest, holding them with your hands. Pull your knees up so they are close to your chest and hold here for around 10 seconds then repeat.
While standing with your feet shoulder-width apart, take a step back with your right foot. Bend your left knee and shift weight back to the right hip. While keeping the right leg bent at a 90-degree angle, bend forward more and reach down the right leg until you can feel your outer hip stretch. Repeat with the other leg.
Start by kneeling on all fours with your hands directly below your shoulders and your knees lined up with your hips. While doing a large exhale, arch your spine slowly. As you inhale, use your core to round your back . Repeat this motion about 10 times.
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What To Do For A Pulled Back Muscle: 8 Early Signs And Symptoms
A pulled muscle in your lower back, upper back, or neck is uncomfortable and can be inconvenient, especially if you are an athlete or lead an active life. Acute pain, unexpected muscle spasms, and the inability to move with full range of motion can significantly impact your daily life and prevent you from doing some of the things you love most.
Recognizing the early signs of a pulled back muscle allows you to treat the injury and potentially prevent it from worsening. Treating a minor injury before it intensifies may save you days or weeks of discomfort and inconvenience.
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Treatment For Pulled Back Muscles
Most pulled muscles are fairly straightforward to diagnose and can be treated with ice or heat and over-the-counter pain medication. While your injury heals, its best to avoid strenuous activity or heavy lifting.
- an ice pack wrapped in a towel applied for 10 to 20 minutes several times a day to reduce inflammation and ease pain when the injury first occurs.
- heat packs applied several times a day after the first 48 hours to increase circulation and speed healing.
- over-the-counter or prescription pain medicationssuch as ibuprofen, aspirin, or naproxento reduce inflammation.
- muscle relaxants, which require a prescription, to help ease painful muscle spasms.
- physical therapy to strengthen muscles and provide better support for the spine and reduce the chance of future injury.
- gentle stretching exercises to increase blood flow to the injury and strengthen the back and abdominal muscles that support the spine.
- massage to reduce muscle tension and pain, increase circulation, and improve range-of-motion.
- a 5- to 10-minute walk a couple of times a day to relieve back stiffness and promote physical activity to avoid future problems.
In most all cases, pain from a pulled back muscle gets better after only a few days. But if it lasts for more than a week or two or the pain is severe, its time to call your doctor. If you experience a loss of feeling in your legs or groin, fever, loss of control of your bowels or bladder, or severe abdominal pain, get medical help.
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Muscle Strain In Your Back
Pulled muscles are also known as strains, which can affect either the muscle itself or the tendon, which is a thick band of tissue that connects the muscle to the bone. Muscle strains can range from a mild or moderate overstretch of the muscle or a partial tear. In severe cases, a strain may indicate a complete tear.
Video of the Day
The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons explains that sports like soccer, football, hockey, wrestling and other contact sports put you at risk for muscle strains. They also cite explosive sports that require quick starts, like hurdling, long jump and running races, as potentials for acute strains.
Overuse sprains are a result of a chronic overuse of lower back muscles or tendons. According to the Cleveland Clinic, poor posture, weak abdominal muscles, tight hamstrings and being overweight can put undue stress on your lower back muscles, which increases your risk for a muscle strain.
These problems are all preventable with an exercise program that focuses on proper stretches for the hamstrings, strengthening of the abdominal muscles and proper instruction on how to lift and handle heavy objects.
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