Article Reviewed & Updated on 9/07/2022
Medical Reviewer: Kari Haberman
If you have ever sprained your back muscles, you probably know the answer to “what does a pulled back muscle feel like”?
Strained lower back muscles may begin as a sudden, throbbing pain when you lift or bend. It may also appear gradually and get progressively worse over time.
While for some people, even the traditional strained back treatment works, others need to seek medical assistance to find the most suitable treatment for strained back muscle.
Either way, it is essential to understand that your back is one of the complex structures of muscles and bones. It functions with the support of ligaments, tendons, cartilage, and a network of blood vessels.
However, your back, particularly the lower back or lumbar, bears much of your body’s weight while you run, walk, lift, or do other activities.
That is why injuries to the lumbar and lower back, including sprains and strains, are very common. If you suffer from sprained back due to pulled and twisted muscles, learning how to treat a strained muscle in the back may benefit you.
Don’t worry if you have no idea how to treat a strained muscle in the back or how to help pulled back muscle. Here we have enlisted seven simple and effective ways to help you relieve the strained back muscle and get back to your normal life activities.
What is Muscle Strain?
As mentioned earlier, strain is typically an injury to either your tendon or muscles. Tendons are solid fibrous bands of thick tissues that connect muscles to bones. When you strain your back, the tendons and muscles supporting the spine are torn, pulled, or twisted.
Causes of a Strained Back Muscle
Sometimes even simply pulling or twisting a tendon or muscles may result in a strained back. That means, even a single instance of overstressing the lower back muscles or improper lifting can cause back strain. If you have a long-term (chronic) strain, it may be the result of repetitive, prolonged muscles and tendon use.
As we discussed above, a sprain may occur after a sudden twist, fall, or a blow to the joint, affecting its normal position. All these conditions can stretch the ligament beyond the normal movement range and cause injury.
In addition to that, there can be many factors that may put you at greater risk of getting a sprained or strained back. These can include:
-Curving your lower back excessively
-Having weak abdominal or back muscles
-Hamstrings (back or thigh muscles)
Usually, athletes and sports persons experience this problem as their daily routine involves a lot of pulling, pushing, and weight lifting. They are at higher risk of a lower back injury.
Can You Diagnose Strained Back Muscle?
Medical professionals diagnose mild strains by studying the medical history of the patients. A qualified healthcare provider reviews the symptoms of the patients and the reason for injury— or performs a physical examination.
If patients have severe sprains and strains and there is loss of mobility and weakness, a healthcare provider takes an X-ray to rule out a herniated (bulging) disc or fractured (broken) as the back pain cause.
Strained back vs. herniated disc is a common phenomenon that confuses many people. It is important to understand that disc herniation is a more painful condition than back strains and requires long-term treatment, depending on the severity of your condition.
Symptoms of a Strained Back Muscle
-Lower back pain that radiates into the buttocks but doesn’t affect the legs
-Stiffness in the lower back restricting motion range
-Inability to make normal posture due to tightness, stiffness, or pain
-Muscle spasm either at rest or with activity
-Persisting pain for 10 to 14 days
How to Treat a Strained Back Muscle
In many cases of a sprained back or pulled back muscle, doctors use non-invasive and standard self-care treatments. Here are some first-step strained upper back muscle treatment options to effectively reduce pain.
The idea of using heat or ice for strained back muscles may sound traditional or outdated to you, but it is a reliable, tried, and tested way to reduce pain.
Applying cold packs is incredibly effective in reducing blood flow to painful areas. This technique numbs back pain and decreases swelling and inflammation.
Thanks to products like reusable ice packs and hot and cold gel ice packs that make applying cold therapy for sprains and injuries a breeze. The ColePak icepack molds and targets the injured and affected back area with better flexibility and comfort.
Whether you have muscle ache, herniated discs, or any other back injuries, the reusable ice pack is a hand-free solution to get fast relief. You don’t need to hold the pack, as it wraps in place with its easy-to-use elastic hook fastener straps.
While both packs are great for heating and icing your back pain, strains, or injuries, ColePak knee ice pack is excellent for knee pain, while the ColePak Comfort reusable therapy wrap includes an ice pack for your back.
2. Anti-inflammatory medicines (NSAIDs)
Anti-inflammatory or anti-swelling medicines, including aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen, can also help reduce inflammation that contributes to your pain. You can buy prescription or over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medicines.
3. Over-the-counter Pain Medicines
You can also use over-the-counter medication, including acetaminophen, as a treatment for strained upper back muscles. They may help you reduce pain by altering the way your brain interprets the pain signals. Acetaminophen may be added as active prescription medications, such that you can take it in combination with opioids.
4. Sleep or Rest in a Comfortable Condition
Strained back muscles make it difficult to rest and sleep. To relieve the pain, it is essential that you find a more comfortable position to sleep or rest. It keeps your backbone naturally aligned.
-Place a wedge pillow underneath the knees to minimize stress on the lower back.
-Place a wedge pillow between knees to maintain balanced natural spine and hip alignment.
5. Use a Back Brace for Lower Back Pain
Using a back brace is another great way to reduce lower back pain. In fact, it is an effective and fast way to reduce strained back pain. The adjustable brace is a great recovery treatment for budging, misalignments, fractures, slipped discs, and strains.
6. Massage Therapy
Stretches for a pulled-back muscle can do wonders to relieve strain instantly. You can include them in your massage therapy to improve blood circulation and relax muscles. Moreover, it can improve range of motion and decrease pain.
Massage therapy releases endorphins that help you lessen or reduce pain signals in your nervous system.
Staying active is crucial to keep your spinal structure healthy and functional, and walking is no exception. Make sure you take short walks for 3 to 10 minutes multiple times a day. It can help you relieve lower back stiffness and reduce discomfort.
All in all, regardless of the reason you develop muscle strain, it is a painful condition and may worsen if not treated on time. The abovementioned seven ways can help you reduce the pain and heal muscles faster.