What Is Back Strain

Back MusclesIn my quest to help all of us understand and end back pain, today I’ll answer the question:  what is back strain?  Simply put, it is a pulled muscle.  But don’t let the straightforward explanation fool you.  It is, by far, one of the most common cause of back pain and can be severe and limiting in many cases.  Of course, this is yet another issue I, personally, have experienced countless times.

Usually included in discussions about back strain is also lumbar sprain.  A strain involves the muscles whereas a sprain involves the ligaments but in either case, it’s torn or hyper-stretched suddenly (acute) or over time with repetitive stress (chronic).  The good news is that, if the condition truly is “simple” back strain or lumbar sprain, it should improve in a few days in most cases (or within a few weeks for the worst occurrences).  As always, only a proper medical evaluation can help you obtain an accurate diagnosis.

Oh no, ouch, ut oh…

When a muscle or ligament is torn or pulled, the result is typically inflammation and spasms.  That leads to pain, which likely will occur suddenly and be localized to a specific area, at varying degrees based on the incident and individual.  It is also not uncommon to impede or limit certain movements initially and throughout the recovery phase.  Because of the sudden and unexpected onset, many of us may also tense up and further aggravate the situation trying to figure out what to do.

If you can move, it can happen…

Since strains and sprains are normally the result of an unintentional movement of some sort, it is impossible to know just what movement might cause an occurrence.  You could be mopping the floor, picking up a paper clip, playing golf, sneezing, turning over in bed, running to catch the bus, walking the dog, etc.  Basically, it can happen during physical exercise, daily activities, or even when you think you’re just resting anytime, anywhere.

Kiss the pain goodbye…

Self-care remedies include a brief (1-2 day) resting period only if necessary, ice to reduce inflammation (2-3 days), heat therapy thereafter, resuming any and all activities that do not increase the pain and performing basic stretching to the extent that it remains comfortable.  Ibuprofen, Tylenol or similar over-the-counter pain relievers (if you’re medically able to take) may also be helpful .  Alternatively, you may find chiropractic care, physical therapy, prescription medications or massage therapy to also be beneficial especially in extremely painful episodes or with chronic flare-ups.

Whenever possible, avoid it altogether…

It should come as no surprise that experts agree being in good physical condition is the best way to prevent strains and sprains.  A regular exercise program that includes stretching, strengthening and low-impact aerobics is essential.  Maintaining a healthy weight and reducing emotional stress is often suggested as well.  And of course, using proper posture when sitting, standing, walking, bending, lifting, etc. can be the difference between being in motion successfully and causing the injury accidently.

Even though most everyone will experience back strain at some point, at least it’s clearly defined and relatively easy achieve recovery.  I hope this post was also clear and helpful.  Please consider leaving a question or comment today.

Be Well,


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