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A muscle strains can produce back pain, or ruptures can occur just like they can anywhere else in the body. A muscle strain (or tear) in the back (upper or lower) is usually caused by a sudden movement or trying to lift something that is too heavy. The injury however is often a long time coming on as the muscles in the back gradually tighten up due to bad posture and overuse.
These muscles go into spasm and do not get enough blood through them resulting in weakness. So when someone complains they bent down to pick up a piece of paper and tore a muscle in the back, it is not just the piece of paper that caused it but a gradual build up of tension over weeks and months.
If you have suffered a direct blow to a muscle, particularly one near a bone then you must treat it as a contusion.
Symptoms include :
- A sudden sharp pain in the back
- Possibly swelling or bruising over the area of the rupture
- Difficulty in moving - bending forwards, sideways or straightening
Muscle tears are graded 1, 2 or 3 depending on how bad the tear is :
Grade 1 : What does it feel like?
- Tightness in the back
- May be able to walk properly
- Probably won't have much swelling
Grade 2 : What does it feel like?
- Probably cannot walk properly
- May get occasional sudden twinges of pain during activity
- May notice swelling
- Pressing in causes pain
Grade 3 : What does it feel like?
- Unable to walk properly
- In severe pain
- Bad swelling appearing immediately
- A static contraction will be painful and might produce a bulge in the muscle
- Expect to be out of competition for 3 to twelve weeks or more
- What can the athlete do?
- Seek medical attention immediately
- R.I.C.E. (Rest, Ice, Compress, Elevate)
- Use crutches
- Follow a rehabilitation plan as directed by the sports therapist
What can a Sports Injury Therapist or Doctor do?
- Use sports massage techniques to speed up recovery (very important)
- Apply joint manipulation techniques
- Use ultrasound and electrical stimulation
- Prescribe a rehabilitation programme and monitor it
- A surgeon will operate if indicated
** If you suspect a grade two or three injury it is recommend you see a Sports Injury or back Specialist immediately.