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Back Pain and Back Strains

Low back pain is one of the most common issues seen in an outpatient physical therapy clinic and the vast majority of people will experience some form of back pain at least once throughout their life. There are many different causes of low back pain, but one common cause of back pain is due to muscle strain. 

Defining a Strain

Muscle strains can occur to any muscle throughout the body. Strains are little tears in the muscles often microscopic in size. For this reason, MRIs will often not show muscle strains because the tears are so small which is one reason why imaging is not always needed.

How do Back Strains Occur?

Back strains can occur as a result of three different things:

  • Overuse
    • Doing more than usual activity, or more strenuous than usual activity such as chopping wood in the fall, and helping someone move a heavy piece of furniture.
  • Poor body mechanics
    • Poor or improper lifting techniques, or sitting or standing in an unnatural position.
  • Trauma 
    • Sudden changes in directions such as during a car accident, a slip and fall, moving quickly to try to catch something else that is falling, a dog suddenly pulling on its leash, or even the quick jerking of an energetic kid pulling or jumping on you.

How Back Strains Feel

Strains will typically be very achy, although sharp pain is possible initially or with quick or sudden movements. Stiffness and tightness is also common with this type of injury especially first thing in the morning or after periods of inactivity. After some gentle movement, some of the pain and stiffness does often improve.

How can a back strain affect you?

Back strains can make prolonged sitting, standing or walking difficult as the back muscles may feel more fatigued, stiff and achy. Twisting and bending movements when turning in bed, getting in or out of the car, bending forward to put your shoes and socks on may also be uncomfortable.  In addition, heavy lifting or vigorous activity can also reproduce and aggravate this type of back pain.

How Physical Therapy can Help!

Seeking help from a physical therapist right away, can help prevent the acute pain from becoming a chronic pain, by addressing any muscle restrictions, educating and training you in proper body mechanics, and helping you strengthen and stretch the affected and surrounding areas to prevent any further irritation or spasm of the healing muscles. Physical therapy can help facilitate that healing process of back strains and can make it more comfortable for you.

If you or someone you know are experiencing any type of back pain, don’t wait! The sooner you seek treatment, often times the easier the condition is to treat. Call 703-450-4300 TODAY to schedule your evaluation and start living pain free again! 

CLICK HERE for more information on common back problems. 

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