Back injuries can occur for a number of reasons. An injury can be the result of something serious, like a car accident, or less serious, like bending over. No matter the cause, an injury to the back is often painful and restricts your mobility. The lower back is the most common area for injuries and pain. Here is a look at a few of the most common back injuries.
Sprains and Strains
A sprain is a stretched or torn ligament, whereas a strain is a stretched or torn muscle or tendon. Strains are commonly referred to as pulled muscles as well. When a strain or sprain happens, inflammation occurs around the injured muscles. Inflammation can cause back or muscle spasms, which causes not only severe pain, but also limited movement.
This type of back injury is caused by movement that places stress on the lower back. A strain or sprain is usually due to heavy lifting, lifting and twisting at the same time, a sports injury, sudden movement, or a fall. Both can be treated with pain medication, anti-inflammatory medication, muscle relaxants, or massage.
There are soft disks located between each vertebrae of the spine that act as a cushion and support for the spine as a whole. An excess amount of pressure on the spine can result in a weakened disc. A weakened disc may bulge out to one side (or "herniate") and push on the nerves of the spine, which causes pain. A herniated disc is often occurs due to improper lifting lifting, but it will appear gradually instead of having a sudden onset. You may also here this type of injury referred to as a “slipped” or “ruptured” disc.
Treating a slipped disc includes rest, pain medication, anti-inflammatory medication, physical therapy, and in some cases, surgery. Luckily, with proper treatment, recovery from this common back injury is possible.
A break or fracture in the spine is often caused by weakened bones due to an underlying condition, such as cancer or osteoporosis. However, a break can also occur from a traumatic and forceful injury, like in a car accident. The vertebra in the lower back are the most commonly fractured bones in the spine.
Like other back injuries, pain is a common symptom. Though the break may be in the lower spine, pain can radiate up through the rest of the back and down through the hip and thigh. If nerves are affected, a person will experience numbness and tingling as well. Additionally, the fracture can also push on the spinal control and cause the inability to control urine or stool.
Depending on the severity of symptoms, admission to the hospital may be needed, but in other cases, a fracture is treated with a back brace, rest, heat, narcotics, and eventually physical therapy. Surgery may also be needed to prevent the spine from applying pressure to the spinal cord or to stabilize the vertebra surrounding the fracture.