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Pull Back

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Pulled-Back Muscle

Pull back pain

If you suffer from pain in your back, you should know that a lot of people are in your shoes. Back pain is something that most adults will experience at some point in their lives. One in five of such cases will develop chronic pain, which is pain that lasts for over one year.

Visit Downtown Pain Physicians and meet our team of New York’s top pain medicine and rehabilitation specialists, led by Dr. Raj Raval, MD, located in Downtown Brooklyn and Lower Manhattan. We can pinpoint the source of your pain and prescribe a personalized, time-tested treatment plan that works.

Age plays an important factor, as it is estimated that back pain will mostly affect those who are 30 years old and older. However, many other factors can contribute to back pain, such as:

  • lack of physical fitness
  • being obese
  • having a bad posture
  • spending too much time sitting
  • due to job injuries
  • after heavy lifting
  • due to natural bone loss associated with aging

Although not being physically active enough does lead to back issues, even athletes and young children might experience back pain.

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Muscle pain after a pulled back muscle is often experienced on one side of the back only. This can be caused due to compensation after a sore joint, such as a sore hip or knee joint. For example, if one of the hips is weak, you will strain the opposite side of the back more to make up for that, which can overwork the muscles on that side and lead to a pulled muscle in the back.

What is the symptom of a pulled muscle in the back?

A pulled-back muscle can cause a lot of pain. Some of the most common symptoms of pulled-back include your pain hurting when you move, but also when you say still, pain which might radiate down to the buttocks, but typically not down to the legs, difficulty with standing up straight, muscle spasms, or muscle cramps, and issues bending over or walking.

What is the difference between a pulled-back muscle and a pinched nerve?

A pulled muscle in the back will occur after tearing or overstretching muscle fibers. This can be caused by overworking a certain muscle or by twisting it to hurt. Typically, you will notice swelling and pain, and the affected area might be tender to the touch. Some cases might lead to redness and bruising.

A pinched nerve, on the other hand, referred to as nerve compression, occurs if there is pressure in a certain area, which can lead to the nerve becoming partially blocked.

This can lead to radiating and burning pain within the affected area. A pulled muscle in your back could lead to a pinched nerve, but a pinched nerve might also be caused by a herniated disc in the spine. If you suffer from back pain that radiates down to the legs, you must contact your local healthcare provider as soon as possible.

Muscle pain after a pulled back muscle is often experienced on one side of the back only. This can be caused due to compensation after a sore joint, such as a sore hip or knee joint. For example, if one of the hips is weak, you will strain the opposite side of the back more to make up for that, which can overwork the muscles on that side and lead to a pulled muscle in the back.

A pulled muscle in the lower back on the left side can however also be caused by gynecological issues, such as fibroids, by a kidney stone on that side or an infected kidney, by pancreatitis or ulcerative colitis. If the pulled muscle in the lower back is on the right side, it might be caused by appendicitis, a kidney infection or kidney stone on the right side, endometriosis or fibroids for women, or testicular torsion for men.

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How to treat a pulled muscle in back?

Ice and heat therapy. If you suffer from a pulled muscle in the back, there are several pulled back muscle treatment options available. It is always a good idea, to begin with, the ice and heat therapy. Placing an ice pack on the affected area can help to reduce the swelling. After a couple of days, you can continue with a heating pad. However, make sure to not apply a heating pad for longer than 20 minutes at a time and not sleep with it on.

Anti-inflammatory medications. You can also take over-the-counter anti-inflammatories, such as naproxen and ibuprofen, as this can help to reduce swelling and inflammation, such as a part of pulled lower back muscle treatment. Such medications can be very effective in managing pain and inflammation, however, they also come with side effects and shouldn’t be used for longer periods. It is also important that you speak to your healthcare provider if you take other medications, as over-the-counter medications might interact with other medications. Massages can also help to reduce the pain and to relax tense muscles.

Over-the-counter creams. There are also many over-the-counter creams, which can be worked into the skin and can help to relieve pain. Compressing the muscles can also help to reduce swelling, which at the same time, can help to control the pain. Effective compression for a pulled-back muscle is for example wearing a back brace. However, make sure to not leave it on all the time and not put it on too tightly, as the muscles still need blood flow, to heal.

Physical activity. It is helpful to rest, however resting is only recommended for a short time. It is also important that you begin being physically active, as resting for a too long time can lead to the muscles becoming weaker. Treatment for pulled-back muscles also involves strengthening the muscles again.

Corticosteroid injections. A more powerful anti-inflammatory option that can provide relief from pain and has been used as a treatment for back pain for a long time. Such corticosteroid injections can be administered either directly into the spinal structures or can be administered via intramuscular routes, oral routes, or intravenous routes.

When to seek pulled-back muscle treatment?

Although back pain is common and in most cases, not an emergency, you must seek medical attention, if your back pain is associated with other symptoms, such as incontinence, chills, and fever, weight loss, nausea and vomiting, difficulty walking and maintaining balance, abdominal throbbing, severe pain which doesn’t go away after a couple of days, weakness, numbness, or pain which radiates into the legs.

How to prevent pulled back muscle?

There are different tips on how to prevent a pulled-back muscle. You must lose weight, if you are overweight, that you wear supportive and low-heeled shoes, that you do stretching and strengthening exercises, that you improve your posture if you’re standing and sitting, that you’re careful and avoid falls and rather sleep on the side on a good mattress and have the knees drawn up, such as by sleeping with a pillow between your legs.

For more information on how to treat or prevent pulled back muscle, schedule an appointment with the top pain management specialists in Downtown, Brooklyn, and Lower Manhattan. Please call our office for a consultation and indicate which location you want to visit.

This page was published on Mar 15, 2021, modified on Jul 12, 2021 by Dr. Raj Raval, MD (Pain Management Doctor)

The information on this website is to provide general information. In no way does any of the information provided reflect definitive treatment advice. It is essential to consult a best-in-class pain management specialist in New York regarding ANY questions or issues. A thorough evaluation should ALWAYS be performed for an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan. Be sure to call your pain doctor to schedule a consultation.

  • Dr. Raj Raval, M.D.

    1. Board Certified
    2. Interventional Pain & Musculoskeletal Medicine Specialist
  • Education & training

    1. SUNY Downstate PMR Residency
    2. Rutgers University Fellowship
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