Lower back pain is a very common problem these days. With the busy life, low nutrition and irregular sleep we all tend to develop weak muscles that lead to backaches. The most common cause of acute lower back pain is the damage of muscles and ligaments in the lower back. While a muscle strain doesn’t sound like a serious injury, the resulting pain can be severe and is the reason of many chiropractic clinic visits each year.
Commonly there are two types of lower back strains:
- A muscle strain – It happens when the muscle is overstretched or torn, resulting in damage to the muscle fibers. People commonly refer to it as a muscle pull.
- A lumbar sprain – It happens when ligaments are stretched too far or torn. Ligaments are very tough, fibrous, connective tissues that connect bones together.
Generally it doesn’t matter if it’s a muscle strain or a ligament sprain since the basic treatment and prognosis for both are the same.
Common Causes of a Pulled Back Muscle
Lower back pain due to muscle strain or ligament sprain is caused by:
- Movement that puts undue stress on the lower back like lifting a heavy object, lifting while twisting, or a sudden jerk or fall.
- Sports or dance injuries also cause pulled back muscles, especially with sports and dance movements that involve twisting, or any other type of sudden impact or motion.
When the muscles or ligaments in the low back are strained or torn, the area around the muscles become inflamed. The inflammation leads to back spasm which causes both severe lower back pain and difficulty moving depending on its severity. Dancers and sportspersons need to take special care of their movements.
Pulled Back Muscle Symptoms
Typical symptoms of a lower back pulled muscle include the following:
- The pain is usually just in the lower back and doesn’t spreads to legs or shoulders.
- The patient feels better while resting, and may find it difficult to stand or walk.
- The severe back pain resolves quickly, but a little pain may continue for a few weeks and may again flare up if the patient stresses.
- The lower back may feel sore on pressing the affected area.
- Pain usually comes on suddenly.
Initial Treatments for Pulled Back Muscles
First hand treatments include some combinations that you can try yourself:
- Pain medication to interrupt transmission of pain signals to the brain.
- Anti-inflammatory medication to reduce the inflammation causing pain.
- Massage is also a good option as it helps promote blood flow in the lower back, loosens tight muscles, and release endorphins – the body’s natural painkiller.
- Heat therapy is great for muscular pain. Application of heat to the lower back is helpful in stimulating blood flow and healing the injured area.
- Ice or ice packs for injuries. Application of cold packs can help reduce inflammation caused by injuries. It’s best to use cold packs immediately after the injury.
If these treatments are not effective you may take muscle relaxants and do the special exercises for your back as prescribed by a chiropractor for back pain to relieve the pain.
Fortunately, back muscle strains usually heal with time, with most of them healing within a few days and almost all resolving within 3 to 4 weeks. Still if the back pain is severe, the patient is advised to take rest and visit a chiropractic clinic soon.