Back pain of any type can be extremely painful and cause both physical and mental stress. Muscle strain in the lower back is a common complication that many people deal with on a daily basis. If you suffer from this type of pain and have difficulty walking, moving around or simply carrying out everyday tasks, read on to learn more about the causes, treatment and how to get relief from stained muscle pain.
What is Lower Back Strain?
When the ligaments or muscles of the lower back have become strained or tor, the area that is around the muscles will usually become inflamed. This inflammation will lead to back spasms which can eventually cause the individual to have severe lower back pain. This makes it difficult for them to move, walk or lift items.
What are the Symptoms of Lower Back Strain?
Some of the most common symptoms that are associated with lower back strain include pain and stiffness in the back that will not go away with regular over the counter pain medication, and pain that gets worse whenever the person bends, stretches, coughs or sneezes. This pain occurs most often in the lower back region, however, it can also be present in the buttocks, legs, or in the back of the thighs.
What Causes Lower Back Strain?
The lower back area is prone to so much pain due to mechanical stress and strain. This is caused by the weight of the upper body putting a consistent strain on the lower back. Old age can also be a huge factor when it comes to lower back strain since the cartilage in the spine starts to deteriorate as we get older.
The most common causes of lower back strain include:
- Lifting heavy objects
- Standing or sitting in the same position for a long period of time
- Unusual twisting or other sudden movements
- Old age
- Physical injury
- Extreme physical exertion
- Bending or crouching
- Doing exercises such as squats or deadlifts improperly or when not in shape
- From running or walking long distances
- Herniated, degenerative, or slipped disc
- Damaged discs
How injury to the Spine can Cause Lower Back Strain
The spine, which is made up of numerous small bones known as vertebrae, supports all the upper body weight. Within the spine are spongy pieces of cartilage that sit in between the vertebrae. These spongy discs help to prevent the vertebrae from constantly rubbing against one another. Over time, the discs start to wear away and shrink. This can cause back pain and weakness which can lead to slipped or ruptured discs.
How to Diagnose and Treat Lower Back Strain?
Lower Back Strain can be treated in a number of ways. The type of treatment provided will depend on the amount of pain a person is in, and their diagnosis.
To diagnose lower back strain, a doctor will usually prescribe conservative treatment such as physical therapy, pain medication, or recommend other forms of treatment like massage therapy. If these options do not work, the doctor will then send their patient for a test such as an X-ray, MRI or a CT scan.
Patients who have lower back pain may also want to try some at-home treatment that can temporarily reduce acute back pain and speed up the healing process. These options include:
- Placing an ice pack on the back to reduce pain and swelling. It is good to use ice every 3 to 4 hours for around 20 to 30 minutes, especially after physical activity.
- Applying heat to the affected area after two to three days of applying ice is also a good way to alleviate pain. Patients can use an electric heating pad or soak in a hot bath.
- Painkillers and other over the counter drugs such as NSAIDs can help to decrease inflammation and reduce the amount of pain and swelling that may occur. Sometimes prescription painkillers or muscle relaxers are needed to reduce the pain.
How Can Lower Back Strain be Prevented?
Even though practically everyone suffers from lower back strain now and then, the good news is that it is a condition that can be prevented in most cases. Mild cases of back pain get better within a few days of rest and medication while more severe cases can often be helped with physical therapy. To prevent lower back strain, it is recommended that you…
Get Plenty of Exercise
Exercise is extremely important and can help stretch your muscles so that they will be in better shape when performing physical activity. A short daily exercise routine that involves walking or stretching can also help to ease pain caused by inflammation or muscle tension. Be sure to avoid exercises that can contribute to more back pain such as squats or the deadlift which has a reputation for causing extreme lower back pain.
Watch your weight
The spine has to support all of our upper body weight, and if a person is overweight, that is putting even more pressure on the small vertebrae bones. Losing weight can help to eliminate a large amount of pressure on the spine and can help improve your weight overall.
Smoking can cause the flow of nutrient containing blood to the spine to be restricted which can make smokers highly vulnerable to severe back pain.
Change up your Sleeping Position
Ask your doctor about the best sleeping position for back pain sufferers. Many will suggest sleeping on your side with your knees pulled up. Those who prefer to sleep on their backs can help eliminate pain by placing a pillow under their lower back and another under their knees for support.
Improve your Posture
If you sit or stand for a long period of time, your overall posture can be affected. You should always keep your knees higher than your hips while seated and keep your head up and stomach pulled in if standing for a long time.
Lift heavy items with care
Be sure to lift heavy items carefully by bending at your knees and squatting as you pull in your stomach muscles and hold the object close to your body. Do not twist while lifting and choose to push instead of pulling heavy objects if possible.
Lower back strain can be stressful especially when your recovery time gets in the way of work and other daily tasks. If you have back muscle injuries and typical over the counter medication does not provide you with adequate relief, then you should ask your doctor about the many treatment options that are available to you. A pulled back muscle or sprain can be diagnosed and treated so that you may get back to your normal daily routine.