A back sprain is a ligament injury. The severity of the injury can range from mild to severe.
Sudden movements like a fall or car accident can cause injury to the ligaments because the muscles don’t have time to react. When the muscles don’t have time to react and contract enough to keep the spine within its normal range of motion, it causes the back ligaments to stretch or tear.
Intense pain can result from a back sprain. The pain may worsen over a couple of days as the ligaments become inflamed.
Minor back sprains (slight tearing or overstretching of a ligament) cause minor back pain and swelling with little or no bruising. Moderate back sprains cause moderate back pain and swelling with bruising. Severe back sprains cause severe back pain, swelling and bruising and make it almost impossible to move. Like back strain, back sprains may trigger back muscle spasms.
Healing time depends on the severity of the sprain. Most back sprains heal in six to eight weeks but it can take several months for complete recovery from a severe back sprain. Ligaments take longer to heal than muscles.
Back pain caused by muscle or ligament injury will usually resolve without any special treatment within 2 weeks to 2 months. The problem is, people usually become impatient and ultimately cause more injury by trying to exert the back muscles to early.
However, laying around is usually not the prescribed method, either. Before beginning any exercise program, especially after an injury, consult your physician.
Your doctor may prescribe pain medications that contain codeine and/or muscle relaxants to relieve severe acute back pain, especially for the first week after the injury.
Drinking plenty of water is important to flush out the acidic byproducts of muscular activity that can accumulate and irritate the muscles.
Tip: To avoid aggravating back pain, ‘roll’ out of bed: bend your legs at your knees and hips and roll on your side. Push yourself up with your arms as you hang your lower legs over the side of the bed.
Many people who experience recurring back pain have weak core muscles – the muscles that support the back. Strengthening these muscles can prevent back strain from recurring, though the time for strength exercises is after the back pain has resolved.
Good posture and proper lifting techniques can help to safeguard you from back sprain. Mentally engage your core muscles when sitting, standing, walking or exercising. This will help to strengthen your back and protect it from injury.
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