Both occasional sports enthusiasts and professional athletes suffer from back strain. It is a common sports injury that occurs once one of the muscles that support the spine is pulled, twisted or torn. Sports that involve jumping will put individuals at high risk for back strains as well as those who resume a particular sport after a long break. Being overweight or having a previous history of back injuries puts individuals at risk.
If back strain occurs to a family or friend, being prepared on how to care for the injury at home can help minimize the pain. All you have to do is to register in a first aid class so that you know what to do in case sports injuries occur. Additionally, you should also know when to consult a doctor if the back strain is a severe one in order to prevent long-term damage.
What are the symptoms of back strain?
If a back strain is suspected, the following symptoms are likely to manifest.
- Muscle spasms
- Muscle weakness
Mild cases of back strain can be treated at home. On the other hand, it is best to consult a doctor right away for a back strain that is accompanied by the following symptoms.
- Severe swelling and pain
- Pain the disrupts ability to move or walk
- Pain that interferes with sleep
- Numbness in the site of injury
Treatment for sports-related back strain
For the first 48 hours after the individual sustains the back strain, the main objective of the treatment is to minimize the pain, muscle spasms and swelling.
- The individual must be allowed to rest and avoid any activities for a day or two.
- Apply an ice pack on the affected area for 20 minutes at a time for 4-8 times in a day. Make sure that the ice pack is wrapped in a clean cloth or towel before applying on the skin. Take note that the ice reduces the inflammation by constricting the blood vessels which limits the flow of blood to the area. Avoid applying heat since it can cause an opposite effect.
- Over-the-counter NSAIDs such as ibuprofen, aspirin or naproxen can be given to minimize the pain and swelling.
Even if after two days has passed and the back continues to hurt, it is best to resume normal activities than spending more time in bed. Resting for a long time and the immobility will only delay the recovery process.
At this point, you can apply heat on the affected area to ease the pain by relaxing the tight muscles. You can utilize a heat lamp, heating pad or hot compress. Take note that the heat dilates the blood vessels, thus increasing the flow of blood to the area. This will promote healing since the blood brings nutrients and eliminates debris from the damaged tissues. In most cases, the symptoms of back strain will go away completely in a span of two weeks. If the symptoms persist longer, it is best to consult a doctor as soon as possible.