Sprain and Strain Syndromes

Of all the types of back pain problems, sprain and strain syndromes have the best prognosis for recovery, due to the ability of strained muscles and ligaments to heal themselves. Other soft tissues and joints in the lower back can be healed as well, but do not have a direct blood supply and nutrients as muscles to facilitate the healing process. Sprain and strain syndrome refers to back pain that results from spraining and straining the soft tissues of the back, including, but not limited to, ligaments and muscles (other soft tissues include the tendons and nerves). Strains and sprains are the most common causes of acute back pain (pain within the first 2 months of onset). Though quite debilitating, the symptoms usually abate and then go away on their own in a matter of weeks without requiring a doctors consultation and treatment.

The negative associated with this type of back pain is that it frequently recurs, suddenly and spontaneously (without accident or trauma). That means that if you have had low back pain strain or sprain, your treatment plan should include exercises and lifestyle adjustments to prevent further relapses. These type of injuries may occur in the elderly or from men and women of any age who have overworked their back to the point of severe strain at some point. Sprain and strain syndromes are often attributed to the muscles supporting the back, but they may also be attributed to arthritis and degeneration of the small joints in the back. Even with sophisticated imaging techniques (e.g. MRI, CT) it is often hard to distinguish between the soft tissue pain of ligaments and muscles and spinal joint pain. Often, both spinal-joint pain and soft tissue joint pain occur simultaneously in the same patient and present as pain in the same section of the back. Back pain exercises and treatments for both spinal-joint pain and soft-tissue pain are often the same. For these reasons, they will be discussed together in our web site.

Common Symptoms. Common symptoms of sprain and strain syndromes include tension headache if the source of the problem is cervical (neck), stiffness and reduced range of motion, and acute back pain, reduced mobility, and muscle spasms.

These type of injuries may be caused by overload or overuse, and may be treated with rest, massage therapy, TENS therapy, physical therapy, and chiropractic adjustments. Often, sprain and strain syndrome related syndromes will resolve on their own without any intervention, but frequently recur if appropriate steps, such as the ones, mentioned aren't taken.

Healthy muscles and soft tissues of the back provide us with a full range of motion and back support so that we are able to move around freely and without pain. Given the amount of muscle groups and tendons and ligaments involved, we can really appreciate how remarkable that most of us feel good most of the time. The terms "strain" and "sprain" indicate which soft tissues are affected. Sprains are usually attributed to awkward twists and excessive bending forwards and backwards and sideways. Strain usually refers to microscopic tears that are sustained when soft tissues and muscles are overstretched or overused.