Telltale Signs That You Strained or Sprained Your Back

Telltale Signs That You Strained or Sprained Your Back

There are many causes of back pain, but strains and sprains are among the most common, especially in your lower back. The results of these injuries can range from a minor discomfort to debilitating pain that makes even the smallest movement seem impossible.

To help you determine whether your back pain is related to a strain or sprain, our team here at Pain Medicine Consultants wants to highlight back strains in this month’s blog.

Here, we take a look at the anatomy of your back, some of the more common telltale signs of a strain or sprain, and how we can relieve your pain.

Back anatomy 101

There’s a good reason why we want to take a moment to review the anatomy of your back, because there are several ways in which a strain or sprain can develop.

At the core of your back is your spine, which is composed of 33 vertebrae and 23 discs that stretch from the base of your head to your pelvis. Surrounding this foundational structure are supportive soft tissues, including ligaments, tendons, and three muscle groups that include:

In most cases, muscle strains occur in the erector spinae, but they can develop in the other two muscle groups, as well.

Causes of muscle strains and sprains

The first thing to understand about back strains and sprains is that these are two different problems. A strain is an injury to the muscle or to the tendon that supports your back. A sprain occurs when you tear one of the ligaments in your back.

There are many ways in which a strain or sprain can develop in your back — from sleeping incorrectly to picking up heavy objects using just your back for lifting.

Back strains and sprains can also develop because of problems along your spine. For example, if you have arthritis in your spine, you may favor a certain muscle, which puts additional strain on another muscle group.

No matter how you injure your back, the symptoms are largely the same when it comes to sprains and strains.

Signs of a strain or sprain in your back

Whether you sprain or strain your back, the first sign you notice is pain. Depending on the degree of the soft tissue injury, this pain can range from a mild discomfort to severe pain that greets your every movement.

In most cases, this pain presents itself as a dull ache that intensifies with certain movements.

You may also develop muscle cramping or muscle spasms as surrounding muscles attempt to pick up the slack of the injured tissues.

As we mentioned, your movements may also be limited as a result of a back strain or sprain. For example, some people only find relief while sitting, while others are unable to sit and need to lie down or stand. In other words, your movement limitations depend on which tissues were injured.

Treating back sprains and strain

The good news when it comes to back strains and sprains is that these conditions often heal quite quickly, especially if you give your back plenty of rest and apply ice and heat alternatively.

We can do our part to ease your discomfort through medications, trigger point injections, and even acupuncture.

If you’re struggling with back pain due to a sprain or strain and you’d like some guidance, please contact one of our locations in Pleasant Hill, Pleasanton, or Corte Madera, California, to set up an appointment.

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