How to Treat a Lower Back Muscle Strain

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Lower back pain is often caused by muscle strain. This class of injury is called musculoligamentous injury because both ligaments and muscles can be involved. The muscles that support the spine (called paraspinal muscles) are large and powerful, but they are also vulnerable because they are used for nearly all body movements. Treating lower-back strain properly will reduce the duration of the injury and reduce the chance of re-injury.

  • Rest your strained muscles. Don't lift anything heavy or put your back under any stress for several days. Alternate using heat and ice to treat the pain.

  • Take medicines to control your pain and inflammation. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDS) are often used to treat back pain. NSAIDS work by blocking prostaglandins that cause pain and swelling. and they are available in prescription and non-prescription strength. Common NSAIDS include aspirin, ibuprofen (Motrin), and naproxen (Aleve).

  • Sleep with a pillow between your legs to ease the pressure on your back.

  • Stretch your muscles slowly and carefully. Stop stretching if your pain increases. The Cat/Horse is a good general stretch.

    1. Get on the floor with your hands and knees squared under you and your back flat.
    2. Push the upper part of your back straight up, like a cat and hold for five seconds.
    3. Return to the squared position.
    4. Push your stomach toward the floor so your back is no longer flat and hold for five seconds.
    5. Return to the squared position.
    6. Gently and slowly swing your hips to the right and hold for five seconds.
    7. Return to center. Keep the reverse arch in your back.
    8. Gently and slowly swing your hips to the left and hold for five seconds.
    9. Return to the squared position.
    10. Slide back and flatten your body so your arms are outstretched and your stomach is on your thighs.
    11. Breathe deeply and relax.
  • Add exercises, such as the Back Hyperextension, to build muscle and help regain mobility once your pain has decreased.

    1. Lay on your stomach with your arms straight in front of you.
    2. Slowly raise your right arm and your left leg a few inches and hold for five seconds.
    3. Release
    4. Slowly raise your left arm and your right leg and hold for five seconds.
    5. Repeat four times a day, increasing the time to twenty seconds and the height to six inches over a four day period.

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