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Low Back Strain
Low back strain
is an injury to your lower back muscles or tendons. Tendons are strong tissues that connect muscles to bones. The lower back supports most of your body weight and helps you move, twist, and bend. Low back strain is usually caused by activities that increase stress on the lower back, such as exercise or injury.
Common signs and symptoms include the following:
- Low back pain or muscle spasms
- Stiffness or limited movement
- Pain that goes down to the buttocks, groin, or legs
- Pain that is worse with activity
Seek care immediately if:
- You hear or feel a pop in your lower back.
- You have increased swelling or pain in your lower back.
- You have trouble moving your legs.
- Your legs are numb.
Contact your healthcare provider if:
- You have a fever.
- Your pain does not go away, even after treatment.
- You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.
Treatment for low back strain:
- Acetaminophen decreases pain and fever. It is available without a doctor's order. Ask how much to take and how often to take it. Follow directions. Acetaminophen can cause liver damage if not taken correctly.
- NSAIDs , such as ibuprofen, help decrease swelling, pain, and fever. This medicine is available with or without a doctor's order. NSAIDs can cause stomach bleeding or kidney problems in certain people. If you take blood thinner medicine, always ask your healthcare provider if NSAIDs are safe for you. Always read the medicine label and follow directions.
- Muscle relaxers help decrease pain and muscle spasms.
- Prescription pain medicine may be given. Ask how to take this medicine safely.
- Surgery may be needed if your strain is severe.
Manage your symptoms:
- Rest as directed. You may need to rest in bed for a period of time after your injury. Do not lift heavy objects.
- Apply ice on your back for 15 to 20 minutes every hour or as directed. Use an ice pack, or put crushed ice in a plastic bag. Cover it with a towel. Ice helps prevent tissue damage and decreases swelling and pain.
- Apply heat on your lower back for 20 to 30 minutes every 2 hours for as many days as directed. Heat helps decrease pain and muscle spasms.
- Slowly start to increase your activity as the pain decreases, or as directed.
Prevent another low back strain:
- Use correct body movements.
- Bend at the hips and knees when you pick up objects. Do not bend from the waist. Use your leg muscles as you lift the load. Do not use your back. Keep the object close to your chest as you lift it. Try not to twist or lift anything above your waist.
- Change your position often when you stand for long periods of time. Rest one foot on a small box or footrest, and then switch to the other foot often.
- Try not to sit for long periods of time. When you do, sit in a straight-backed chair with your feet flat on the floor.
- Never reach, pull, or push while you are sitting.
- Warm up before you exercise. Do exercises that strengthen your back muscles. Ask your healthcare provider about the best exercise plan for you.
- Maintain a healthy weight. Ask your healthcare provider how much you should weigh. Ask him to help you create a weight loss plan if you are overweight.
Follow up with your healthcare provider as directed:
Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.
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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.
Learn more about Low Back Strain (Ambulatory Care)
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- Acute Low Back Pain
- Back Pain
- Chronic Back Pain
- Coccyx Injury
- Low Back Strain
- Muscle Strain
Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.