Overview | Causes | Symptoms | Diagnosis | Treatment | FAQ
Back strain is a fairly broad category called “soft tissue injury,” which
covers muscles, tendons and ligaments. About 80% of back and neck pain
The stomach muscles, or abdominals, enable the back to
bend forward. They also assist in lifting. The abdominals work with
the buttock muscles to support the spine. The oblique muscles go around
the side of the body to provide additional support to the spine.
Another type of strain relates to spinal ligaments that
run in front and in back of the vertebral bodies. Tendons, which also
connect muscles in the spine, can develop inflammation, or tendonitis.
Some people believe that part of what makes the back
muscles more prone to strain is that they are shorter than other big
muscles in the body. The muscles in our thighs that enable us to walk,
run and jump are longer and less prone to strain. It’s very unusual
to strain a thigh muscle.
Muscles in the back can strain or spasm and form a hard lump, like
a charley horse in the leg. Back muscle spasms can be caused by injury
and pain, whether the source is muscle strain, or a disc problem.
A spasm, defined as an involuntary convulsive contraction of muscle
fibers, can be excruciating. The muscle spasm can be steady or come
in waves of contractions. Your muscle is sending you a signal that
it has been pushed beyond its ability.
A symptom of muscle strain may be an excruciating spasm in the back
that is very painful.
Outlined below are some of the diagnostic tools that your physician
may use to gain insight into your condition and determine the best
treatment plan for your condition.
Surgery is never appropriate for muscle strain.
As with any muscle injury, it’s natural for an
individual to stop moving the injured area and wait for it to heal.
Ironically, this is counter-productive. Restricting movement causes
the muscle to weaken, become less flexible and receive less circulation.
In fact, gentle stretching and exercise is the best way to resolve
the injury by getting it moving and increasing circulation.
While someone may argue that the two words are different, that a sprain
is a more serious injury than a strain, in reality, sprain and strain
have evolved to mean essentially the same things to doctors and lawyers.
Both words relate to an overworked muscle, ligament or tendon that
Some may argue that strain relates to stretching or tearing
of muscles or tendons, while sprain relates to tearing of ligaments
or tissues in a joint area. For example, if bones in a joint are forced
beyond a comfortable range of motion, the joint may be sprained.
Another word that you may hear is “muscle spasm,” where
a muscle locks up in an excruciating, hard lump.
Most people erroneously think that the more excruciating the pain,
the more likely that you herniated a disc. That is not the case at
all. In some cases a back spasm can knock you down to your knees. A
person can have excruciating pain, but if it is mostly in the low back,
it’s probably not a herniated disc. Typically, a herniated disc
in your back will radiate pain down into your leg, or pain will radiate
down your arm if you have a blown disc in your neck.
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