A muscle that’s “pulled” or strained in the lower back usually demands immediate attention because of the related pain. The good news is that discomfort of this nature is often temporary. However, it can be helpful to know what steps you can immediately take to ease the intense pain often associated with a pulled lower back muscle. Here are some tips to keep in mind.
The first thing you can do about a pulled lower back muscle is give your body time to naturally heal and recover. This doesn’t mean you have to stay in bed for several days, but you can move more slowly or modify your normal activities. However, don’t overdo it. Too much rest can weaken spine-supporting muscles and contribute to additional discomfort.
One way to sufficiently stabilize the lower back area as muscles heal is to wear a back brace intermittently. Just check with your doctor or a Los Angeles spine surgeon first so you get the right type of brace and advice on how to wear it correctly.
Muscles that are pulled often cause pain because of related inflammation. An effective way to ease this type of swelling is with cold therapy, which can involve:
• An ice pack
• Cooling gel
• Ice wrapped in a towel
• A bag of frozen veggies
Apply your preferred cold method to the affected area, but limit applications to 15–20 minutes. Also, never apply ice directly to your skin.
Heat helps by increasing circulation in the affected area of the lower back and getting more beneficial nutrients flowing to the muscle fibers. Warmth can be applied with a heat pack, heating pad, hot water bottle, or warm baths. An adhesive heat wrap is a similar option that delivers continuous heat to the affected area in a safe way.
Get the benefits of both cold and heat therapy by starting with cold applications to ease the initial inflammation. Follow this up with heat applications to boost your body’s healing capabilities. Make sure to take a 2-hour break between ice and heat applications to avoid skin damage.
Massages work by manipulating skin tissues in the affected area in a way that relieves muscle stiffness and tension. The manipulations associated with massage also increase circulation and promote the release of the body’s own “feel-good” hormones, called endorphins. Ways to benefit from a massage include:
• Visiting a qualified massage therapist
• Considering chiropractic treatments that involve soft tissue massages
• Working with a physical therapist
• Opting for a DIY massage that’s done by moving your back from side to side along two tennis balls attached to a chair
Muscle relaxants work by easing soft tissue tension enough to minimize the risk of experiencing painful muscle spasms. Natural muscle relaxants like chamomile, tart cherry, and peppermint are meant to be safely taken as supplements or brewed in tasty teas. They also tend to have anti-inflammatory properties and help with sleep.
Lastly, as you get past your initial healing period, consider doing gentle stretching exercises targeting your lower back area. This helps your body get ready to return to your normal level of activity. If your discomfort continues, talk to your doctor or a spine specialist.
If you’re experiencing severe back pain of any kind, make sure to consult a specialist for accurate diagnosis and prompt treatment. The pioneering physicians at The Spine Institute have experience with every aspect of neck and back health, from disc replacement to Coflex back surgery. Los Angeles patients should give us a call today at 310-828-7757 to schedule a consultation.