What is Muscle Strain?

For most people, the term “spine injury” is associated with images of herniated discs or fractured vertebrae in the spinal column. However, muscles and ligaments also play an important role in the spine’s long-term health and are just as crucial as bones and joints. Damage to the muscles that support the spine and facilitate movement is one of the most common reasons for emergency room visits and is often the underlying cause behind many patients’ acute lower back pain. Most patients are surprised at just how uncomfortable muscle strain can be, and are often kept from responsibilities like work and school because of their injury.

A muscle strain becomes painful because when a muscle is overexerted as this leads to the areas surrounding it becoming inflamed and tender. This is typically when a wide array of symptoms become known, depending upon the location and severity of the strain. To rule out life-threatening conditions and attain optimal healing, it is important to receive a specific and accurate diagnosis for your muscle strain as quickly as possible. At Minimally Invasive SpineCARE®, our experienced specialists use advanced pain-mapping techniques to identify the cause of your pain and discomfort safely and efficiently. This allows us to provide a comprehensive treatment plan geared toward addressing your unique muscle strain while encouraging the most optimal healing possible.


Any movement or physical activity that places stress upon the back can result in a strained or “pulled” back muscle. Common causes of a strained muscle include:

  • Lifting a heavy object improperly
  • Twisting suddenly, as you might during a golf swing or other activity
  • A fall, being part of a motor vehicle accident or participating in a sport
  • Repeatedly bending or crouching
  • Excess weight or obesity
  • Fatigue or the overexertion of a muscle
  • Poor flexibility or a lack of regular physical activity
  • Not warming up before exercising
  • Slipping or losing one’s footing, often causing an awkward landing
  • Throwing something
  • Sleeping in certain positions
  • Previous muscle strains
  • Spine degeneration or disorders

As you can see, the range of problems that might cause a muscle strain range from dramatic incidents to mundane, everyday events. If you believe you may be at risk for sustaining a muscle strain or have been suffering from a long-time strain, schedule a consultation with one of our knowledgeable team members to discuss preventative measures and options for healing.


The symptoms of a muscle strain can be temporary or long-lasting, depending on the location and severity of your condition. Some of the most frequent indicators of a muscle strain are:

  • Localized pain that doesn’t usually radiate to the extremities
  • Soreness or tenderness when touched
  • Pain that comes on suddenly
  • Muscle spasms or weakness
  • Relief with immobility or when resting
  • Difficulty performing certain actions, such as standing, bending or walking

The symptoms of a muscle strain can also be evidence of a number of spine-related conditions, including a herniated disc, cancer or spinal stenosis. To identify the underlying cause of your symptoms and determine the best way to treat them, it is best to speak with a spine and back expert.

If back pain is accompanied by fever or incontinence of the bladder or bowels, call 911 immediately as a medical emergency may be occurring.

Our Minimally Invasive Treatment Approach

At Minimally Invasive SpineCARE®, your health and quality of life are our top priorities. By providing personalized and innovative care, we strive to ensure that each and every patient returns to their daily life without the debilitating symptoms associated with a stubborn muscle strain.

During your initial consultation, one of our skilled physicians will carefully and compassionately evaluate your medical history, symptoms and physical state. After obtaining a precise diagnosis, we will create a treatment plan to meet your unique needs and goals.

The majority of back muscle strains heal without intervention within a few days or 3 to 4 weeks. Although it may seem counterintuitive, bed rest is recommended for no more than 1 to 2 days. Extended periods of inactivity can worsen back-related problems instead of alleviating them. If a strained back muscle refuses to heal on its own, we offer many treatment options to encourage revitalization, such as:

  • Medication: Over-the-counter and prescription medications can sometimes reduce the discomfort and inflammation associated with a strained muscle. Localized injections can also deliver pain-relieving agents directly to the affected region, eliminating back pain for as long as 6 months. For the vast majority of patients, their pain has healed naturally by the time the effects of their medication have dissipated. If you believe you need medication to cope with a muscle strain, schedule an appointment with a back and spine specialist as quickly as possible.
  • Massage: Therapeutic massage is often an effective way to relax the tight muscles around a strain and lessen the temporary pain experienced by the patient.
  • Ice and Cold Packs: Intermittently placing cooling packets on a strained muscle can reduce the swelling and inflammation associated with a muscle injury. This allows the body to heal with minimal discomfort.
  • Heat Therapy: By placing a heating pad on the inflamed muscle, you can encourage blood flow to the area, which brings an influx of nutrients to the damaged area. This can often hasten healing and reduce pain.
  • Physical Therapy and Stretching: The weaker that back muscles become, then the more likely a patient is to experience chronic pain and additional muscle strains. By strengthening the muscles that support the spine and the body’s weight, it is possible to reduce the discomfort associated with a muscle strain. Losing excess pounds and targeting frequently problematic areas in the back can also provide relief from many painful conditions.

If the original incident that caused the muscle strain leads to compounding spine-related issues such as herniated discs or foraminal stenosis, the team of experts at Minimally Invasive SpineCARE® perform a number of conservative and minimally invasive surgical treatments for these complications as well. Through the advanced procedures offered by Minimally Invasive SpineCARE®, most patients are able to avoid undergoing traditional open surgery. Generally, minimally invasive operations yield:

  • Shortened recovery times that allow patients to return to work and other daily activities faster
  • Less post-operative pain
  • Reduced risks of blood loss, scarring and trauma to surrounding muscles and soft tissues
  • Fewer potential complications

To learn more about muscle strains or other back problems treated by Minimally Invasive SpineCARE®, please do not hesitate to get in touch by calling us directly at 972-255-5588 or by filling out the form on this page.

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