Category: Back Pain | Author: Stefano Sinicropi
Your spine is home to many muscles that are tasked with helping support your spine and facilitate movement, and if they are overworked, you can end up with a pulled muscle. A pulled muscle is actually the same thing as a strained muscle, and it occurs when the fibers of one or more muscles that support your spine are overstressed. This leads to tearing of the muscle fibers, and left untreated, it can lead to long-term issues.
The best way to treat a pulled spinal muscle is by proactively treating the problem at the outset. Many individuals try to push through the discomfort because they don’t want to miss work or sports, but that can lead to further damage and an extended period of pain. Below, we explain what to look for that suggests you’re dealing with a pulled back muscle, and how to recover from the injury.
Symptoms of a Pulled Spinal Muscle
Some signs that suggest that you’re suffering from a spinal muscle strain include:
- Muscle spasms
- Tenderness when pressure is applied
- Intense or a chronic, dull pain
- Tightness, stiffness or inhibited range of motion
- Pain with movement
- Pain relief when inactive
Symptoms are most notable right after the injury occurs, although there isn’t always an acute moment of injury, or during the morning. The reason you’re more likely to notice symptoms in the morning is because your muscles have been inactive while you sleep, so this transition from a passive to active state is usually accompanied by symptoms. As your body gets used to active movements, you’ll tend to notice symptoms a little less as your day goes on.
Treating A Pulled Back Muscle
As we noted above, the earlier you begin treatment on your pulled muscle, the better it will respond to treatment and the shorter your recovery time will be. Ignoring treatment or trying to power through the pain can lead to additional muscle tearing and an extended recovery time. It’s better to miss a game or two while the injury recovers than to play at less than 100 percent, exacerbate the injury, and miss an extended period of time.
Treatment involves standard at-home conservative care techniques, including over-the-counter pain medications or anti-inflammatories, cold therapy to combat swelling, heat therapy to relax muscles and promote circulation, and physical therapy to increase your range of motion and strengthen the muscle groups. It’s also very important to find an appropriate balance between rest and activity. You want to rest the pulled muscle for 24-48 hours, but after that, rest is only promoting atrophy of the muscle. You want light, controlled movements to increase circulation and rebuild the muscle. Physical therapy is a great way to achieve this, but light activity like walking or jogging can also be beneficial.
Severe muscle pulls or injuries that don’t respond well to conservative care should be viewed by a back specialist like Dr. Sinicropi. For more information about pulled muscles, or to setup an appointment, contact Dr. Sinicropi’s office today.