Back pain is one of the most widespread medical concerns across the world. In the U.S. alone, around 16 million adults experience chronic back pain. Therefore, if you’re currently struggling with back pain, it’s safe to say that you’re not alone.
Back pain can be caused by a strain or sprain. They are indeed different injuries, but they can cause similar symptoms. Here, we’ll discuss the signs of both back strains and sprains to help you pinpoint the exact cause of your pain.
Back Strains vs. Sprains
A strain occurs when a muscle or tendon is pulled, torn, or twisted. On the other hand, a sprain occurs when a ligament is stretched or torn. Given that the back is an intricate system of muscles, tendons, ligaments, nerves, cartilage, and bones, your back is quite susceptible to both strains and sprains.
The Main Causes
Strains are generally caused by the pulling or twisting of a muscle. A sudden abnormal movement or repetitive heavy lifting can also cause a back strain.
Sprains are often caused by a fall, a sudden trauma, or a twist. These factors can stretch a ligament beyond its regular range of motion, resulting in a sprain.
Signs of a Back Strain or Sprain
As mentioned, back strains and sprains can trigger similar symptoms, including:
- Worsening pain with movement
- Muscle spasms or cramping
- Reduced range of motion
- Difficulty bending forward or to the side, standing up, and/or walking
Treatment for Back Strains and Sprains
Generally, people with back strains and sprains recover within two weeks or less. In the first few days after the injury occurs, it’s recommended to use compression, cold therapy, and over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications to help reduce pain and swelling. While you should avoid strenuous physical activity while recovering from a sprain or strain, prolonged immobility can actually worsen back stiffness and essentially prolong the overall recovery process.
If your back pain doesn’t resolve within a few weeks, you should schedule a free consultation at the Regenerative Orthopedic Institute to learn about possible treatment options.