for Patients

Backstrain

Overview

Back strain is an injury to the soft tissue of your back, specifically the muscles, tendons and ligaments that keep your spine in place. If any of these soft tissues are injured, your spine can move out of place, causing pain.

Causes

Back strain result from several different causes:

  • Over exertion: Straining your muscles too hard, either through exercise or by lifting heavy objects, can lead you to "pull" a muscle, which results in tiny tears on the muscle fibers.
  • Injury: If you fall or are in an accident, your tendons, ligaments or muscles in the back can be strained, torn or inflamed by the sudden movement.
  • Poor posture: Slumping or hunching over can put pressure on the muscles, or cause knots to form in the muscles of the back, which affect their ability to hold the spine in place.
  • Obesity: Extra weight increases the work that the soft tissue in the back must do in order to keep the spine stable, which can result in back pain.

Symptoms

  • Back ache
  • Muscle pain
  • Muscle spasms
  • Loss of range of motion

Diagnosis

First step toward diagnosis will be a physical exam by one of our physicians.

Treatment

We have several methods of treating back strain.

  • Physical Therapy. Often, back strain can be treated nonsurgically by strengthening the muscles of the back and core through physical therapy and exercise. This treatment also includes stretching exercises that help relieve pain.
  • Medication. We may prescribe anti-inflammatory medications or muscle relaxers to reduce the pain and swelling associated with back strain.
  • Injections. We may also administer cortisone injections to relieve pain.
  • Typically, we do not prescribe narcotics for this type of injury.