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How Can You Damage Your Back? Common Injuries, 11 Symptoms

Medically Reviewed on 4/19/2022

Common causes of back injuries can include being overweight, sitting for long hours, poor posture, playing sports, car accidents, or sudden movements.

Back injuries are a common complaint that can occur in any part of the back although they are most common in the lower back. Sprains and strains, herniated discs, and vertebral fractures are common ailments.

The severity of the injuries varies based on the cause of the injury and the extent of the damage.

Common causes of back injuries

Common causes of back injuries include:

  • Being overweight
  • Sitting for long hours
  • Poor posture
  • Playing sports
  • Working around the house or in the garden
  • A sudden jerk in a car accident or movement
  • A bump, knock, or fall

Muscle strain is the most prevalent cause of lower back injury. Back discomfort, however, can be caused by a variety of factors.

A disease, such as osteoarthritis or osteoporosis, age, physical fitness, smoking, being overweight, or the type of employment you do could have a role.

11 signs and symptoms of a severe back injury

Fractures (breaks in the bone), substantial bruising, and damage to the spinal cord and internal organs are examples of severe back injuries.

Any of the following symptoms could suggest a serious back injury. If you have any of the following symptoms, you should consult a doctor straight away:

  • Severe back pain
  • Tingling and numbness in lower extremities
  • Weakness in lower extremities
  • Unable to pass urine or dribbling urine
  • Tenderness or pain (sore to touch)
  • Stiffness
  • Difficulty moving or standing up straight
  • Muscles in spasm on either side of the spine
  • Bruising
  • Swelling
  • Pain radiating down one or both legs
  • Immediately seek medical help by dialing 000 for an ambulance if you are in danger. If you are not in danger, do not move, especially your back. Avoid twisting or bending movements by supporting your head, neck, and spine.

    Your doctor could help manage your pain by referring you to physiotherapy or other tests.

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    How are back injuries typically treated?

    Your doctor will examine you to see if the nerves in your back are functioning appropriately. If you are having trouble going to the bathroom, make sure you notify them.

    • Most minor back injuries heal on their own within six weeks.
    • Other tests or treatments are usually not required. An X-ray for low back pain is only necessary if you have other important symptoms, such as problems with bladder and bowel control, severe pain, weakness, or numbness in one or both legs.
    • The most important thing you can do is keep yourself busy.
    • Back discomfort is often misunderstood as being cured by getting bed rest. Bed rest hinders your recovery and may aggravate your pain.

    Simple pain relievers, such as acetaminophen, or anti-inflammatories may be beneficial.

    Back injuries can be alleviated by doing the following:

    • For the first day, use cold compresses (such as covered ice packs) for 20 minutes every three to four hours. This will relieve discomfort and swelling. After the first day, use warmth, such as showers, baths, or heated wet towels. These can help alleviate pain and with rehabilitation.
    • Avoid bending, lifting, and twisting movements until you feel better.
    • You may need to take time off work to allow your back to heal depending on your employment.
    • Physiotherapy may help as well.

    Medically Reviewed on 4/19/2022

    References

    Image Source: iStock image

    Johns Hopkins Medicine. Lumbar Strain. https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/lumbar-strain-weight-lifters-back

    Hamilton J. Pulled Back Muscle and Lower Back Strain. Arthritis-health. https://www.spine-health.com/conditions/lower-back-pain/pulled-back-muscle-and-lower-back-strain

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