Back Muscle Strain – About Back Muscle Strains

Back muscle strains are common among people who lift heavy objects in an awkward position. A strain is an injury to a muscle or its tendon. In a back muscle strain, the muscle or its tendon is overstretched beyond what it can take or tears resulting in pain and swelling. Although strains can occur in any part of the back, most back strains happen at the lower back, called lumbar strain.


Many cases of back muscle strains occur because of over-exertion of the lower back muscles. In some cases, the condition happens when the back muscles are already stretched when lifting heavy objects. This is when you attempt to lift an object with your trunk bent in which your back muscles are already stretched. In others, repetitive trunk bending may also lead to the condition.

Having tight back muscles, poorly conditioned muscles, and not stretching regularly may put you at risk for the condition.

Learn about how muscle strain severity is determined: Severity of Muscle Strains - Muscle Strain Grading


Symptoms of back muscle strain depend on the severity of injury. The most common symptom, however, is pain or discomfort in the lower back. You may also experience
  • Swelling
  • Tenderness at the site of your injury when pressed
  • Bruising if small blood vessels are damaged
  • Muscle spasm
  • Difficulty moving your lower back or pain worsens with movement

If you experience severe symptoms at the time of your injury, you may have torn back muscles or you may have extensive damage to associated back structures. You should seek medical attention immediately.


Treatments for back strain depend on the severity of your injury. Minor cases may require rest, ice, pain and pain medication. You may be advised to avoid certain movements or activities that make your symptoms worse. You may also benefit from ultrasound therapy, physiotherapy, and performing exercises.

A severe back muscle strain wherein the muscle is torn may require surgery to repair the torn muscle fibers. After your surgery, your doctor may recommend that you undergo physiotherapy rehabilitation to help you strengthen weakened muscles and safely return you to your original activities or achieve your highest possible function.

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