Back Strain Explained


Back strain is an injury to the soft tissue of your back, specifically the muscles, tendons, and ligaments that keep your spine in place. Back strain typically occurs in the lower back. The lower spine, also called the lumbar spine, depends on the the soft tissues around it to help hold the body upright and support weight from the upper body. When put under too much stress, the low back muscles and soft tissues can become injured and painful. In fact, back strain is the most common cause of low back pain. The back is prone to this strain because of its weight bearing function and involvement in moving, twisting, and bending. Anyone has the potential to suffer from back strain. New Jersey spine physicians at Coastal Spine have a variety of nonsurgical back strain treatments such as physical therapy, anti-inflammatory medications, and injections.

There are two common types of soft tissue injuries in the low back:

  • Muscle strain occurs when fibers in a muscle begin to tear from being overstretched or overused. Another common name for this is a pulled muscle.
  • Lumbar sprain occurs when ligaments are overstretched or torn. The ligaments are tough, fibrous tissues that connect bones together.

Sprains and strains share similar signs and symptoms, but they involve different parts of your body. Notice above that strains occur in the muscles or tendons, and sprains occur in the ligaments. In general, strains occur the most often in the lower back and the hamstring muscles in the back of your thigh. Sprains involve torn ligaments. This type of injury is less common in the low back but is still possible, especially for people who do a lot of heavy lifting.

How does back strain differ from other back pains?

There are many unique types of back pain and all can result from different factors. Acquiring an accurate reading of your back pain is crucial to receiving the best treatment possible. Back pain differs from person to person. It is difficult to pinpoint just how much pain a person should be feeling if they have X condition. For example, someone with a large herniated disc can experience very little pain, while someone with a back strain can be in excruciating pain. For this reason, Coastal Spine believes the best thing for you is to check with your physician or a specialist if you’re in pain. For more help with understanding different types of back pain, refer to this article.

For more information about the causes and treatment of back strain, take a look at our website. If you are in pain, we highly recommend you see a physician or specialist. The specialists at Coastal Spine are dedicated to finding an approach that works for you. If you’re struggling with back pain, schedule a consultation with us. We would be happy to answer all of your questions!

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