Dealing with back strain

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A back strain is one of the common musculoskeletal injuries when the human spine cannot accommodate certain activities and behaviors such as playing sports, sitting for long periods of time and performing repetitive actions. The common area of the spine that is susceptible to strain is the lumbar or the lower region because it bears all the weight.

Symptoms of back strain

  • Muscle cramping or sudden uncontrollable contraction of the muscles
  • Decreased function and range of motion of the joint such as bending forward or sideways, difficulty in walking and standing straight.
  • Sometimes a popping sound can be heard after the injury.
  • Pain that is dull, achy and throbbing and sometimes pain is severe with movement
    Back strain
    Take the prescribed pain medications such as acetaminophen, ibuprofen, naproxen and aspirin to lessen the pain and inflammation.


  • Take plenty of rest at least for 2-3 days if suffering from mild to moderate back strain. Avoid prolonged inactivity to prevent stiffness of the muscle. Get up and walk slowly and perform household chores to increase blood circulation and promote fast healing. Walk slowly around for at least 30 minutes to an hour.
  • Apply an ice pack on the affected area within 48-72 hours after the injury to lessen the pain and inflammation. Ice constricts the small blood vessels around the affected area and prevents build-up of inflammation and at the same time lessens swelling, stiffness and pain. Apply on the area for at least 15 minutes at a time every hour until the inflammation and pain is reduced. Another alternative is using frozen vegetables. Avoid applying ice directly on the skin to prevent further damage that can worsen the condition.
  • Apply moist heat if injury is chronic or persistent for several months. Chronic strains on the muscles cause weakening, tightening and lessened flow of blood in the area. By applying moist heat, it expands the tiny blood vessels, increase flow blood in the area and lessen tension and spasms of the muscles.
  • Take the prescribed pain medications such as acetaminophen, ibuprofen, naproxen and aspirin to lessen the pain and inflammation.
  • Perform light stretches if it does not cause pain. Stretching lengthens the fibers of the muscle and prevent spasms and promotes proper flow of blood in the area.


  • Avoid being overweight to prevent back strain.
  • Perform proper warm-up before performing any strenuous physical activities.
  • Cessation of smoking

Disclaimer / More Information

The material posted on this page on a back strain is for learning purposes only. Learn to recognize and manage strains by taking a first aid and CPR class with one of our training providers.

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