A Muscle strain and pulled muscles are the most common cause of back pain. Muscles become overstretched or torn as a result of repetitive movements and improper stretching. The fibers in your muscles become torn and need time to heal. These back pains are very uncomfortable and can be debilitating, but if you act fast, you can prevent pain from getting worse.
How to Provide Immediate Relief for a Back Muscle Strain:
- Stop what you are doing. Whatever physical activity you are in the middle of when back pain flares up, needs to be ceased right away. Even if you are just cleaning up around the house, you need to stop to protect your back from any further injury. Further stress on an already strained muscle can cause serious damage and delay your recovery.
- Try NSAID medications. Strained or pulled muscles cause inflammation in the surrounding area which can intensify the pain. Your body naturally produces an inflammatory response to injury and this can increase swelling as well as trigger muscle spasms. NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) are designed to reduce inflammation and can reduce swelling to bring you relief. Taking too many of these medications can cause problems with your liver so be sure to always follow the directions and speak with your doctor before using them.
- Ice the injured area. Ice is another great way to reduce inflammation and provide relief to a strained muscle. By decreasing muscle tissue damage, icing the area can reduce any soreness and pain you feel. If you do not have an ice pack, then you can make one in one of several simple ways.
How to make an Ice Pack to Treat a Back Muscle Strain:
- Fill a small plastic bag with ice and water, crushing it until smooth
- Fill a sock with rice and place in the freezer until cool
- Place a wet sponge in the freezer and once frozen, put in a plastic bag to use
- Use any bag of frozen vegetables from the freezer
Make sure you always cover your back first. Do not apply a frozen pack directly to the skin or you can get ice burn, which will be more painful than the strain you already have. Use cold therapy for twenty minutes at a time and leave a 2-hour rest period in between icing applications.
How to Treat a Strained Muscle After an Injury
Get some rest. Back pain can make it difficult to sleep with but you can help alleviate this by sleeping on a firm surface. The flatter the surface, the less strain will be placed on your back muscles so they can rest and heal. If lying on a mattress, be sure to use pillows to give you a reclining position. You want to have pillows behind your upper back and under your knees for support. It is important to get as much rest as you can for the two days following a back strain. If you must walk at all, take short walks as these can help prevent stiffness.
After 24 to 72 hours has passed since the injury, you can start trying different techniques to help your back heal. If you were able to rest, you should be in less pain, so moving around will be easier. Instead of ice, you can use hat therapy now and the warmth will soothe aching muscles and increase blood flow to the area. Heat therapy reduces stiffness and the increased blood flow helps damaged tissues to heal more quickly.
Start with gentle walks and exercises to gradually introduce movement back to your muscles. Staying immobile for too long can weaken muscles which will impair the healing process. Gentle back-strengthening and stretching exercises will get the muscle s working and when combined with heat therapy will repair quickly. You can expect a muscle strain to hurt and be sensitive for a few weeks, but if the pain worsens or continues to interfere with living, then you need to speak with your doctor right away.
If your muscle strain worsens or does not appear to be healing, call us for more information on our top spine specialist at 888-409-8006. Offices conveniently located throughout South Florida.