Strains and Sprains

A strain or sprain of the muscles and ligaments of the back causes most of the episodes of acute back pain. The pain can be very severe and last for several hours, several days or even a couple of weeks.

The actual damage that is done by strain or sprain can be variable. Typically, the muscles that support and move the spinal column may be injured; the ligaments that connect the vertebral bodies together or form strong capsules around the facet joints might be partially torn.

Most of the back strains and sprains occur after a sudden movement associated with bending or twisting, and lifting heavy objects. As a result, muscles surrounding the spine overstretch or move in such a way that they sustain very small tears. Mostly, back sprains and strains are concentrated at the lower back, and this part of the back is particularly susceptible to injury, especially in individuals with weak muscles because they lead a sedentary lifestyle.

When the muscles or ligament in the back are strained or sprained, the area around can become inflamed. With inflammation the muscles in the back can spasm and cause both severe pain and difficulty moving. However, most back strains and sprains can be effectively treated with a course of anti-inflammatory medications, 2-3 days of rest, and then a gradual return to normal activities because muscles have a good blood supply to bring the necessary nutrients healing to take place.

Conservative treatment is most effective for relieving the pain and returning to normal activities, and is usually consists of:

  • Medications - help to relieve the inflammation;
  • Exercises – help to stretch and strength the trunk and back muscles;
  • Manipulative treatment - helps to stretch affected muscles and increases spinal flexibility;
  • Physiotherapy – helps to relive the pain syndrome and to return to normal activities.

Surgery is generally not recommended for treating the strains and sprains.

We also reccomend to visit:
Acute back pain: Immediate action
Acute back pain management guide