Also known as “twisting” or “pulling” a muscle, a back strain or sprain can cause swelling, muscle spasms, and discomfort. Some of the most common causes of these symptoms include having weak abdominal or back muscles, as well as hamstrings that are too tight. A pulled back muscle can also occur from being overweight, engaging in motions that excessively curve the lower back, and playing sports that increase the risk of a lower back injury.
No matter why you are experiencing swelling or pain, you will enjoy a better quality of life if you decrease your symptoms and improve your mobility. In this guide, we will explain how to treat a pulled back muscle at home, as well as when it is time to talk to a doctor. With this information in mind, you will be able to design a back pain treatment plan that works best for you.
How to Help a Pulled Muscle
According to Spine-Health, there are a few different telltale signs of a pulled back muscle. These include pain that is concentrated in the lower back, as well as discomfort that intensifies when you move around. Resting your muscles for a period of time may cause the pain to subside. You may also experience dull, aching pain in the lower back area. Some people also describe the symptoms as tingling or hot.
For a pulled muscle in the neck, you might experience:
- Pain in the neck and upper back area
- Limited range of motion in the upper back, neck, and shoulders
- Feeling stifness in the effected area
- Muscles knots, spasms, and/or tightness
- Pain when moving the effected muscles
Notice if you feel stiff when you walk or stand. It may even become painful to move around for an extended period of time. Certain areas of the lower back may feel tender or warm to the touch. Spasms and cramps can limit mobility and even make you feel swollen for days.
Rest & Recover
If you have the symptoms of a lower back sprain or strain, limit your activity for a couple of days. This recovery period can help bring swelling down, improve mobility, and reduce discomfort. Lie on your back with a supportive pillow under your head, as well as another cushion under your knees. If you are having trouble sleeping, try resting on your side while hugging a full body pillow. Memory foam cushions and pillows can help to support aching muscles.
After some time away from exercise and other strenuous activities, gradually resume your usual routine. Any more time off, and the muscles in your back and thighs may get even weaker. If you are still feeling sore, try a low impact workout like walking, swimming, or yoga.
Use Hot or Cold Therapy
To reduce both inflammation and discomfort, try heat or ice therapy. These two treatments can also provide you with relief when you begin to exercise again. The key is to use each of them at the right time. Ice should be applied right after suffering your injury. Wrap an ice pack, bag full of ice cubes, or a frozen bag of vegetables in a cloth or towel. Apply it to your lower back for 10-20 minutes at a time. Use this therapy up to several times per day for the first few days.
Once you are past the initial recovery period, it is time to use heat. Try a heating pad on a low or moderate temperature for approximately 20 minutes per session. While this treatment is also safe to do multiple times per day, be sure to turn the pad off before you go to bed. Falling asleep while engaging in heat therapy can cause burns to the skin. It can even pose a fire hazard.
Massage therapy can provide relief for lower back pain, but experts say it is important to get the right type of treatment. Ask your therapist about focusing on the layers of muscles that line your lower back and spine. It may also be helpful if they massage your hips and buttocks muscles. The right amount of pressure can help to decrease discomfort, increase mobility, and reduce stiffness.
Before you get your massage, it is important to tell your therapist about the soreness, tingling, or aching that you are feeling. An understanding of your symptoms will help them know which areas to avoid and which muscles need the most relief. If you feel pain or discomfort during the massage, tell your provider immediately. They will change the pressure of their strokes or focus on another area of your back.
Talk to Your Doctor
If these treatments do not relieve your symptoms or you are in pain for more than a week, talk to your doctor. He or she may prescribe additional therapy, such as over-the-counter (OTC) anti-inflammatories or compression therapy. Chronic pain also deserves a second opinion. Ask your physician to take a look at your back to rule out other back conditions.
Depending on your symptoms, your doctor may ask you to come back for a follow-up appointment. It is also possible that your practitioner will recommend physical therapy or exercises to do at home. Knee pulls, yoga poses such as the cat-cow pose, and gentle twists can all help to strengthen back muscles and reduce tension.
Laser Treatment for Back Muscle Pain
Besides the treatments above, one of the most promising therapies today is known as photobiomodulation therapy (PBMT), formerly often referred to as low-level light therapy or LLLT. You are probably wondering “How does laser treatment help back muscle pain?” Using non-ionizing light sources, PBMT devices are able to penetrate the skin and modulate pain and inflammation without the use of invasive treatments and pharmaceuticals.
Wearing a comfortable laser light therapy belt such as our CuraviUltra™, CuraviPlus™, or CuraviPro™ can help you to find a new solution for your mild to moderate aches, muscle spasms, and inflammation. Explore our products today to find the output and coverage that fits you. With regular use, you can help mend your pulled back muscle, enjoy enhanced mobility, and feel less pain.