Back Sprain and Back Sprain Treatment

Back Sprain and Back Sprain Treatment

Back sprain is a common musculoskeletal injury that affects millions of people worldwide. It occurs when the ligaments in the back are stretched or torn due to sudden or excessive force, leading to pain and discomfort. Whether you are an athlete, an office worker, or simply someone going about their daily activities, back sprains can happen to anyone. In this blog, we will delve into the causes, symptoms, and treatment options for back sprains, as well as provide some helpful prevention tips.

Understanding Back Sprain

Understanding Back Sprain

Back sprains often get confused with strains, but they are distinct injuries. A sprain affects the ligaments, which are tough bands of tissue connecting bones, while a strain impacts muscles or tendons. In the context of back sprains, the injury involves the ligaments in the back. To comprehend the significance of back sprains, it is vital to have a basic understanding of the back’s anatomy and how these sprains occur.

Back sprains can manifest various symptoms, with pain and discomfort being the most prevalent. Individuals may also experience a limited range of motion and muscle spasms, making even simple movements challenging.

Diagnosing Back Sprain

Diagnosing a back sprain typically involves a comprehensive evaluation by a healthcare professional. While back sprains are common, it is essential to rule out more severe conditions that may present with similar symptoms. Here is an overview of the steps involved in diagnosing a back sprain:

Medical History: The first step in the diagnostic process is taking a detailed medical history. The healthcare provider will ask questions about the onset of symptoms, any specific incidents or activities that may have triggered the pain, the location and nature of the pain, and any relevant medical history or previous back injuries.

Physical Examination: A thorough physical examination will be conducted to assess the range of motion, strength, and flexibility of the back. The healthcare provider will also look for signs of swelling, tenderness, and muscle spasms in the affected area.

Imaging Studies: While imaging studies are not always necessary for diagnosing a back sprain, they may be ordered to rule out other potential causes of back pain, such as fractures, herniated discs, or spinal abnormalities. Common imaging tests include:

  • X-rays: X-rays can help visualize the bones in the spine and rule out fractures or other bone-related issues.
  • MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging): MRI provides detailed images of the soft tissues, such as muscles, ligaments, and discs, allowing the healthcare provider to assess any damage to these structures.
  • CT Scan (Computed Tomography): CT scans may be used to get a more detailed view of the bones and soft tissues in the spine, especially when MRI is not feasible or necessary.

Diagnostic Injections (Optional): In some cases, the healthcare provider may perform diagnostic injections, such as facet joint blocks or sacroiliac joint injections, to determine if specific structures are the source of pain.

Treating Back Sprains

Always consult with a healthcare professional for an accurate diagnosis and personalized treatment plan. Here are some common treatments for back sprains:

1. Rest: Give your back time to heal by avoiding activities that worsen the pain. However, it’s essential to strike a balance between rest and staying active. Prolonged bed rest can weaken the muscles and delay recovery, so try to stay gently active as tolerated.

2. Ice and Heat Therapy: In the first 48 hours after the injury, apply ice packs wrapped in a cloth to the affected area for 15-20 minutes every 2-3 hours. Ice helps reduce inflammation and numb the area, providing pain relief. After the initial 48 hours, you can switch to heat therapy using a heating pad or warm compress to relax the muscles and improve blood flow.

3. Pain Relief Medication: Over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen or naproxen can help reduce pain and inflammation. Follow the recommended dosage and precautions.

4. Gentle Stretching and Range of Motion Exercises: Once the initial acute phase has passed, start incorporating gentle stretching exercises to improve flexibility and range of motion. Avoid any movements that cause pain.

5. Physical Therapy: A physical therapist can design a customized exercise program to strengthen the muscles around the back and core, improve flexibility, and correct posture. Physical therapy can accelerate recovery and reduce the risk of recurrent sprains.

Preventing Back Sprains

Preventing Back Sprains

Preventing back sprains is essential for maintaining good back health and avoiding pain and discomfort. Here are some effective tips for preventing back sprains:

  • Practice Proper Lifting Techniques: When lifting heavy objects, use your legs, not your back. Bend at your knees and keep your back straight. Hold the object close to your body and avoid twisting while lifting. If an object is too heavy, ask for help or use lifting aids.
  • Maintain Good Posture: Whether sitting, standing, or walking, practice good posture. Sit up straight with your shoulders back and avoid slouching. When standing, distribute your weight evenly on both feet and avoid leaning to one side.
  • Strengthen Your Core Muscles: Strong core muscles, including the abdominal and back muscles, provide support for your spine and help prevent injuries. Incorporate exercises that target your core into your fitness routine, such as planks, bridges, and abdominal crunches.
  • Stretch Regularly: Performing regular stretching exercises can improve flexibility and reduce muscle tension. Focus on stretches that target your back, hamstrings, and hip flexors to keep these muscles supple and less prone to strains.
  • Avoid Prolonged Sitting or Standing: If your work requires you to sit for extended periods, take breaks every hour to stand up, walk around, and stretch. If you stand for long periods, use a footrest and shift your weight from one leg to the other periodically.
  • Maintain a Healthy Weight: Excess weight can put additional strain on your back. By maintaining a healthy weight through a balanced diet and regular exercise, you can reduce the stress on your back and lower the risk of back sprains.

When to Seek Medical Attention?

. Here are some scenarios when you should seek medical attention for a back sprain:

1. Severe Pain: If you experience severe or excruciating back pain that does not improve with rest or over-the-counter pain medications, it may indicate a more significant issue that requires medical evaluation.

2. Pain with Neurological Symptoms: If you have back pain that is accompanied by neurological symptoms such as numbness, tingling, weakness, or loss of sensation in your legs or arms, this could indicate nerve involvement and requires immediate medical attention.

3. Trauma or Injury: If the back sprain resulted from a significant fall, accident, or injury, you should seek medical attention to rule out fractures or other serious spinal injuries.

4. Bowel or Bladder Changes: If you experience changes in bowel or bladder function, such as difficulty controlling urination or bowel movements, it could be a sign of a more severe condition and requires immediate medical evaluation.

5. Fever or Infection: If you develop a fever along with back pain, it may indicate an infection and medical attention is necessary.

6. Persistent Pain: If your back pain persists for more than a few days or worsens despite rest and conservative measures, it’s important to see a healthcare professional for a thorough evaluation.

7. History of Osteoporosis or Steroid Use: If you have a history of osteoporosis or long-term steroid use, your risk of fractures and more severe back injuries may be higher, necessitating medical evaluation for any new back pain.

Back Sprain in Different Ergonomics

Back Sprain in Athletes

Athletes are particularly susceptible to back sprains due to their demanding physical activities. Understanding preventive measures and incorporating them into training routines is crucial for athletes’ overall well-being.

Back Sprain in the Workplace

Work-related factors can contribute to back sprains. Creating an ergonomic work environment and adopting healthy habits at work can significantly reduce the risk of such injuries.

Back Sprain in Elderly Individuals

Elderly individuals may face specific challenges in recovering from back sprains due to age-related factors. Tailoring treatment approaches to suit their needs is essential for better outcomes.

Myths and Misconceptions about Back Sprains

Myths and Misconceptions about Back Sprains

Back sprains are common, and unfortunately, they are also surrounded by several myths and misconceptions. These misconceptions can lead to misinformation and may hinder proper understanding and treatment of back sprains. Let’s debunk some of the most prevalent myths:

Myth 1: Bed Rest is the Best Treatment

Fact: While rest is essential during the initial acute phase of a back sprain to allow healing, prolonged bed rest is not recommended. It can weaken the back muscles and delay recovery. Gradual, controlled movement and gentle exercises, as advised by a healthcare professional, are crucial for promoting healing and preventing muscle stiffness.

Myth 2: Lifting Heavy Objects Causes Back Sprains

Fact: While lifting heavy objects with improper form can increase the risk of back sprains, the mere act of lifting something heavy does not automatically cause a back sprain. Proper lifting techniques, using your legs and not your back, can help reduce the risk of injury.

Myth 3: Back Sprains Only Happen to Elderly People

Fact: Back sprains can occur at any age and affect people of all demographics. While age-related factors such as degenerative changes may increase the risk of back sprains in older adults, young and active individuals can also experience back sprains due to sudden movements or trauma.


Back sprains can be painful and disruptive, but with proper treatment and care, individuals can recover and resume their normal activities. Seeking medical attention when needed, following treatment plans, and adopting preventive measures can make a significant difference in managing back sprains effectively.

If you’re experiencing Back pain, physical therapy for back pain at PhysioMantra can help: Book an online physical therapy session.