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Telltale Signs You Strained a Muscle in Your Back

Telltale Signs You Strained a Muscle in Your Back

The terms strains and sprains are often used interchangeably, but they are two different injuries. A strain refers to a pulled (or overstretched) muscle or tendon, while a sprain refers to an overstretched ligament. Muscle strains are most common in the hamstrings or back muscles.

But how do you know if your back pain is related to a strain or something else? Dr. John Regan and our expert team at Spine Group Beverly Hills can assess whether you’ve pulled a muscle or if another condition (such as a herniated disc) is causing your pain.

Here are four telltale signs you’ve strained a muscle in your back.

4 signs you strained a back muscle

There’s no doubt about it: muscle strains hurt. However, it’s important to know that you’re dealing with a muscle strain before embarking on any treatment plan as different conditions require different treatments. 

You might suspect you have a strained muscle if you notice:

1. Sudden and severe pain

Muscle strains happen when your muscle becomes overstretched or tears. Symptoms of muscle strains include: 

Muscle strains are often quite painful. Many people describe the pain from tearing a muscle as a stabbing pain. Depending on which muscle you strained, your pain might be exacerbated in certain positions, such as bending over, sitting, or standing. 

2. Muscle spasms

Muscle spasms are another telltale sign that you’ve pulled a muscle. Muscle spasms are a type of muscle cramp characterized by painful and involuntary muscle contractions. If your muscle already hurts, the sudden spasms just compound your discomfort. 

3. Radiating pain

Strained muscles cause localized pain (at the site of the injury), but the pain can sometimes radiate to your buttocks. However, if you find that your pain runs from your buttocks and down through your leg, you might be dealing with sciatica or even a herniated disc in your lumbar spine. 

Dr. Regan can confirm the cause of your pain and recommend the appropriate treatment depending on your diagnosis. 

4. Stiffness 

Muscle injuries tend to result in inflammation, which can make your muscles seem stiff and tight. 

Immediately after an injury, cold therapy (such as ice packs and cold compresses) can help reduce inflammation. 

However, after a few days, you can combat the stiffness by alternating cold therapy with heat therapy. Cold therapy reduces swelling and inflammation, while heat therapy increases circulation, reduces pain, and reduces stiffness.

Finding comfort after you’ve strained a muscle

If you’ve strained your muscle, there are several steps you can take to promote healing in your back. This includes:

Physical therapy and strength training can also play a valuable role in helping your strained muscles heal correctly and regain strength. In addition, prevent future strains by always practicing safe lifting techniques and warming up before exercising.

When back pain isn’t going away

Back pain can come in mild waves, but it can also be debilitating. Even though some people may feel better after a few days of rest, that’s not the case for everyone. 

Dr. Regan provides compassionate care for back pain, including muscle strains. He examines your back, assesses your range of motion, and checks for any areas of tenderness before recommending the right course of action for you.

Think you’re dealing with a strained muscle in your back? Say goodbye to back pain and schedule an appointment at our Beverly Hills or Santa Monica, California office today.

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