Many of the patients who visit our Newcastle Under Lyme chiropractors come to us as a result of a back injury. The back is an intricate structure of muscle and bone, which is supported by ligaments and tendons and nourished by a network of blood vessels and nerves. It also bears a significant amount of the body’s weight and is subsequently prone to injuries – especially in the lower back.
Two of the most frequent back injuries that we deal with include sprains and strains. But what exactly are these commonly-heard complaints and why do they occur?
Back strain is a term used to describe an injury to either a tendon (the tough, fibrous bands of tissue that connect muscles to bones) or a muscle. A strain is usually diagnosed if the spine-supporting muscles and tendons are pulled, torn or twisted.
A back sprain, on the other hand, involves the ligaments that support the spine. Ligaments are the fibrous bands of tissue that connect two or more bones at a joint and prevent the joint from moving excessively. A sprain occurs when a ligament is stretched or torn.
The symptoms of a sprain and a strain are often similar with the majority of patients experiencing one or more of the following:
- Pain that worsens with movement
- Muscle cramping or spasms
- Difficulty walking, bending forward or sideways, or standing straight
If you suspect that you have sprained or strained your back, you should stop doing the activity that caused the injury and rest for the first day or two. Ice packs and compression can be effective in reducing painful symptoms.
You should then try to return to normal activities 48 hours following the injury, as despite what many people think, staying inactive for too long can prolong symptoms and slow down your recovery period.
Most people with back strain/ sprain will see a significant improvement in their symptoms in about two weeks. But you should contact your doctor or chiropractor if your symptoms continue for longer, your pain is too severe to return to your normal activities after 48 hours or your symptoms or pain worsen at any time.
You should contact your health care provider immediately after the injury takes place if:
- You have severe pain and cannot walk more than a few steps.
- You have numbness in the area of injury or down your leg.
- You have injured your lower back before.
- You have a lump or area that looks like an unusual shape.
- You have pain that interferes with sleep.
Our chiropractors are here to help you, so contact us for advice.