Back pain is one of the most common types of pain that results from sports-related injuries. Many back injuries will get better on their own with self-care. Some injuries, however, are more serious and will require medical attention.
Two Types of Back Pain
When it comes to back pain, there are two different types: acute and chronic.
Acute pain arises suddenly and often occurs as a result of a sports-related injury.
- Injury to the spine’s supporting structures due to repetitive extension movements. A spine stress fracture is an example.
- A muscle strain, or tear, is often caused by a sudden jerking motion or over-extension of a muscle.
- An overstretched or torn tendon or ligament.
- A herniated or ruptured disc which puts pressure on nearby nerves.
Often, minor injuries like lower back sprains and strains resolve on their own in a few months. However more severe injuries, if not treated or fully rehabilitated, can lead to lasting pain.
Chronic pain is long-lasting or long-term pain and is often from past injuries that have not healed.
Examples of chronic pain include:
- General back pain
- Back stiffness
- A restricted range of motion
Experiencing pain over time may lead to incorrect posture, poor physical conditioning, and a worsening of the underlying injury. That can lead to even more chronic pain.
4 Ways to Treat Back Pain from Sport Injuries
All types of pain are uncomfortable, and undesirable, and can lead to a reduced quality of life. Below are four ways to get some relief.
1. Cold and heat therapy
Applying a cold ice pack or heating pad to the lower back can help relieve pain, reduce inflammation, and increase mobility.
- Ice packs should be applied to the painful area several times a day for at least 20 minutes to see beneficial results.
- After a few days of cold treatment, therapy should be switched to heat treatment in the form of a heating pad or hot bath. The heat will loosen the tight muscles, relieving pain.
2. Anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen and naproxen
This type of medication helps to reduce pain and inflammation in the back and is available over the counter. The goal of anti-inflammatory medicine is to provide relief of pain symptoms so activity and supportive therapies can begin.
3. Maintaining activity as tolerated
While a period of rest may be needed for more severe symptoms, a return to normal activities is encouraged for all people with mild or chronic back pain symptoms. The muscles and supporting structures of the back weaken and stiffen when they remain inactive or immobilized. This can cause a worsening of symptoms and continued pain.
An exercise program that combines strengthening, stretching, and low-impact activity will help condition the muscles of the back which support the spine.
4. Prevent future injuries from happening
There are ways to reduce the risk of suffering future back pain.
To lessen the chance of injury, try to:
- Strengthen your core
- Use proper form and technique when lifting heavy objects
- Warm up and stretch
- Get plenty of sleep
- Stay hydrated and eat a balanced diet
- Maintain an ideal body weight
Back Injury Red Flags
Sometimes the pain can result from a more serious injury.
It is important to see a doctor for further evaluation if:
- Back pain gets progressively worse
- Pain radiates down the legs
- Muscles become weak
- There are changes in bladder or bowel function
- Balance is affected by pain
- There is difficulty walking
- Pain persists longer than two months
Don’t let back pain prevent you from enjoying your favorite activities. Schedule an appointment today and get the relief you need!