A back strain is a common musculoskeletal injury to the spine due to playing sports, performing repetitive movements at work and sitting for a prolonged time. The back is a complex structure of bone and muscles that are supported by cartilage, tendons and ligaments with blood vessels and nerves.
The lumbar or the lower back bears all the weight of the body especially when running, walking and lifting. Back strain is an injury to either the muscle or tendon. When it comes to a back strain, the tendons and the muscles that are responsible for supporting the spine becomes twisted, torn or pulled.
Symptoms of a back strain
- Pain that becomes worse with movement
- Muscle cramping and spasms or sudden uncontrolled muscle contractions
- Limited range of motion of the joint especially when walking bending forward or sideway and standing straight.
- Sometimes, a pop or tear can be heard at the time of the injury.
- Pulling or twisting of a muscle or tendon
- Improper techniques in lifting or overstretching of the back muscles
- Prolonged, repetitive movements of the tendons and muscles
- Excessive curving of the lower back
- Tight hamstring
- Playing sports that requires pushing and pulling such as football and weightlifting
- Take plenty of rest. Avoid performing activities that cause back pain. It takes about 2-3 days for a back strain to heal.
- Apply an ice pack on the back strain on the first 48-72 hours after the injury for at least 15 minutes at a time or until it becomes numb. Applying ice on the area constricts the small blood vessels around the injury and prevents inflammation, lessens the swelling, pain and stiffness.
- Apply moist heat on the area to increase the flow of blood and lessen tension of the muscles and spasms.
- Take the prescribed over-the-counter pain medication such as acetaminophen to lessen the pain and inflammation.
- Maintain a warm-up routine before performing any strenuous physical activities.
- Lose weight if overweight to prevent weakening of the back muscles
The details posted on this page on a back strain is for learning purposes only. To learn to recognize and manage strains and sprains including a back strain, enroll in a first aid course with one of our training providers.