What Are Strains & Sprains
A back that becomes painful after a hard day at work, a sudden movement, or an injury, has often sustained a strain or sprain of the muscles and ligaments of the back. Most of the stress associated with bending, twisting, and lifting heavy objects is concentrated at the bottom of the spinal column, and this part of the back is particularly susceptible to injury, especially in individuals with weak muscles because they lead a sedentary lifestyle.
A back strain usually occurs when the muscles surrounding the spine are asked to stretch too far, lift too much weight, or move in such a way that they sustain very small tears. As a result of the tearing of the muscles and ligaments, there is usually a microscopic amount of bleeding into the muscle, which results in swelling and painful muscle spasms. Often the muscles that are injured will be tender to the touch. Pain and spasms are the body’s way of telling you that a muscle has been injured and needs to be protected from further use. As a result, you should avoid using the injured muscles during this phase of acute pain, and help them to recover by resting, applying hot or cold packs, and possibly obtaining a gentle massage to help ease the spasms.
The actual damage that is done when someone suffers a strained back can be quite variable. The muscles that support and move the spinal column may be injured, the ligaments that connect the vertebral bodies together or form strong capsules around the facet joints might be partially torn, or a mild case of a slipped intervertebral disc may the source of the pain. In each of these situations, the human body is usually able to heal itself, and will do so without surgery if given the proper treatment.