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What Is a Pulled Back Muscle?

What Is a Pulled Back Muscle?

Every muscle is comprised of countless muscle fibers. If strained, overstretched, or pulled, a small group or large cluster of them may tear. Excessive use, rapid use, and muscle fatigue can all contribute to the tearing of these fibers — particularly in the back. Specialists may colloquially refer to this type of injury as a pulled back muscle, and here are some tips to help diagnose and treat it. 

Diagnosing a Pulled Back Muscle 

When any area of the back is stretched to the point of injury, it typically becomes painful, tender, swollen, and even bruised. In addition, patients with a pulled back muscle often report symptoms including: 

  • Difficulty walking 

  • Pain with movement 

  • Muscle spasms 

Fortunately, in many cases, discomfort and mobility issues quickly fade within a few days or up to one week. When these symptoms persist a week or more beyond the time of injury, it’s time to consult a physician. Similarly, patients should immediately visit an orthopaedic specialist upon experiencing symptoms such as: 

  • Pain that spreads to the legs

  • Numbness or tingling in the arms 

  • Pain while resting 

To diagnose a pulled back muscle, an orthopedist will perform a physical examination. An orthopaedic specialist may also order diagnostic imaging tests to rule out additional injuries, such as fractures. 

Treating a Pulled Back Muscle 

Although effective treatment and recovery time for a pulled back muscle will vary depending on the severity of each injury, the most common ways to manage and overcome such strains include: 

  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications 

  • Gentle stretching 

  • Compression 

  • Ice 

The majority of back strains are treatable with conservative efforts; however, some cases do require invasive procedures. In more concerning cases of pulled back muscles, orthopaedic specialists may recommend surgical intervention.  

Getting Back to Your Normal Routine

Back pain that persists, intensifies, or spreads should never be ignored. If a back injury is keeping you from maintaining a normal routine, visit the orthopedic specialists at Orthopaedic Associates of St. Augustine. From physical therapy to advanced spinal procedures, our team of orthopedic specialists and surgeons are capable of identifying the exact cause of your back pain and recommending an individualized course of treatment. Fill out our online request form or call the office at 904-825-0540 to schedule an appointment. 


Dr. McClone - Sports medicine doctor St. AugustineCasey McClone, MD
Board Certifications in Family Medicine and Sports Medicine. Dr. McClone specializes in treating musculoskeletal pain for patients of all ages with ultra-sound guided injections.