Pain Relief for a Pulled Back Muscle



If you’re experiencing pain in your lower back caused by a pulled-back muscle, it’s important to get an accurate diagnosis in order to determine the treatment options that will be most effective in relieving your symptoms.

Pain in the lower back can be caused by a variety of conditions, including

A visit to your doctor can help you to determine the best course of action for your particular condition.

Identify the type of injury

In order to properly diagnose a pulled-back muscle, it is important to first identify the type of injury. Pulled-back muscles can be categorized into two main types: acute and chronic.

  • Acute injuries are characterized by sudden pain and spasms that occur during a tear or strain of a muscle or muscle fibers. Symptoms of an acute injury may include sharp pain, muscle spasms, swelling, bruising, limited flexibility, and range of motion in the affected area.
  • Chronic injuries are characterized by continuous pain that gradually worsens over time due to repetitive use or movements. Symptoms may include tightness, soreness, and discomfort in the affected area as well as a restricted range of motion and difficulty in completing activities that normally require strong muscles or movement patterns.

Once the type of injury has been identified, a doctor will typically conduct medical exams such as x-rays or MRIs to determine the severity and course of treatment for the pull. Treatment options will vary depending on the type of injury but can include rest, physical therapy, medications, and even surgery in some cases.

Check for any other symptoms

If the pain persists after a few days of rest, it is important to check for any other symptoms that may be related to your pulled-back muscle. These symptoms may include:

  • Pain in the muscle itself (muscle tenderness) or in surrounding areas, such as numbness or tingling sensations in the buttocks or legs.
  • Certain activities, such as running and jumping, aggravate the pain or cause it to become worse.
  • Muscle spasms in the back when attempting movements that require flexibility and reaching.
  • Discomfort when urinating or when sitting for extended periods of time.

If you experience any of these symptoms, then this could be an indication of a pulled-back muscle and should be evaluated by a medical professional as soon as possible.


A pulled-back muscle requires a period of rest and then, depending on the severity of the injury, treatment. Treatments for a pulled back muscle include stretching, strengthening, and possibly medication. Depending on the source and severity of the pain, other options such as physical therapy, heat and ice therapy, and massage may be necessary.

This article will discuss various treatment options available to help relieve pain caused by a pulled back muscle:

  • Stretching
  • Strengthening
  • Medication
  • Physical therapy
  • Heat and ice therapy
  • Massage


Rest is an essential treatment for muscle strain and it can take up to 6 weeks for a pulled muscle to heal. It is important to give the irritated muscle time to recover so that it can rebuild itself and become stronger. Initially, it is best to limit the activity that irritates the pulled muscle, as continuing may cause further damage resulting in more severe pain or discomfort.

In addition to taking time off from activity, you may find that physical therapy or massage sessions are effective in reducing inflammation and relieving pain caused by a pulled-back muscle. Check with your doctor for advice about any additional treatments you should use if you’re suffering from a strained back muscle.

Below are some of the various treatments available:

  • Resting and avoiding activities that may strain your back
  • Using ice or heat pads on the affected area
  • Taking over-the-counter medications such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen
  • Doing regular stretches which target both flexibility and strength in your muscles
  • Practicing mindful breathing exercises or yoga poses which put less strain on your back muscles
  • Working with a physical therapist who can provide targeted treatments such as ultrasound, electrical stimulation, manual therapy, and exercises specifically designed for recovery


Ice is one of the best ways to relieve pain from a pulled muscle in your back. Ice helps reduce inflammation and numbs the area around the injured muscle, resulting in progressive relief of pain.

To use ice to treat your pulled muscle, you will need an ice pack or bag of frozen peas wrapped in a thin towel and applied for no more than 20 minutes at a time. It is important to limit your cold treatment sessions to this amount of time, as applying ice for too long can cause tissue damage. You should also apply gentle pressure when applying an ice pack to your back so that the cold does not cause frostbite. Allow yourself at least 40 minutes between each session for tissues in your back to warm up and return to their normal temperature.


A compression is a key tool in the treatment of pulled-back muscles. Applying pressure to the affected area can help limit swelling and reduce pain. An appropriate wrap or elastic bandage can be used to apply firm pressure over the affected area, always ensuring that it is stretched well enough to provide maximum benefit without being so tight as to cause discomfort.

Applying cold compresses or ice packs for 10–15 minutes every 2–3 hours is also beneficial in pain relief and keeping down inflammation. These should be followed by heat – such as hot water bottles, electric heat pads/packs, towels soaked in hot water, or warm baths. Make sure you do not burn yourself and check the temperature before applying heat by hand!


The elevation of the affected area is an effective way to reduce pain associated with pulled-back muscles. To utilize this technique, place a couple of pillows or cushions beneath the low back/lumbar area while resting in a reclining position. This will raise the affected area and help decrease swelling and discomfort by applying gentle pressure and lowering circulation to the affected muscles.

As an added bonus, elevation can also be used to facilitate sleep.


When it comes to pain relief for a pulled-back muscle, medication can be an effective way to lessen the symptoms. The first line of treatment is usually over-the-counter pain relievers such as ibuprofen or naproxen sodium. These medications can help reduce inflammation and reduce pain levels. In more serious cases, prescription medications such as muscle relaxants may be prescribed.

In this section, we’ll explore the different types of medications available and how they can help relieve pain from a pulled back muscle:

Over-the-counter pain relievers

Sometimes mild to moderate muscular pain can be relieved using over-the-counter medications such as acetaminophen and ibuprofen. When taken as directed, these medications can reduce inflammation and alleviate the discomfort that comes from a pulled-back muscle. It is important to note, however, that these medicines can also have some unwanted side effects.

  • Acetaminophen: Commonly known by brand names such as Tylenol or Panadol, acetaminophen is a type of analgesic drug that works by reducing pain signals in the brain and nervous system. It has few side effects when taken correctly and is generally safe for most people; however, it should not be taken if you are pregnant or nursing or with other prescription drugs as it may interact with them in unpredictable ways.
  • Ibuprofen: Ibuprofen belongs to a group of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID) drugs. When taken correctly, this medication can reduce fever, inflammation, swelling, and pain – all of which are associated with pulled-back muscles. Side effects may include stomach irritation, nausea, and ulcers when taken in large doses for long periods of time so it’s important to stick to recommended doses only.

When considering taking any over-the-counter medication for your pulled back muscle, be sure to talk to your physician first as they will be able to offer advice on what medication is best for you taking into account any existing medical conditions you have or any other medications you might be taking simultaneously.

Prescription medications

When a pulled-back muscle is severe and not responding to home treatments and over-the-counter medications, you may need prescription medications. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are the most common prescriptions for the treatment of muscle strains and spasms, as they can reduce inflammation and pain.

Your healthcare provider may also prescribe a muscle relaxant that could help improve mobility, decrease spasm frequency and relieve nerve pain. Additionally, opiate pain relievers such as codeine may be prescribed for short-term relief of more severe muscular pain caused by your injury.

In some cases, depending on the severity of the strain or if a large number of muscles have been affected, injectable corticosteroids may be prescribed to reduce inflammation in the area. However, these types of injections should be considered only after other treatments have been proven ineffective as there are risks associated with corticosteroid injections.

If you feel any adverse reactions after taking any prescription medications, contact your doctor immediately. Discuss all treatment options with your healthcare provider before beginning any changes to ensure you receive effective relief from your injury.

Physical Therapy

Physical therapy can be an effective way to help manage the pain and discomfort of a pulled-back muscle. Physical therapists are trained to assess your individual situation, identify the underlying causes of your pain, and develop a personalized plan to help you recover and reduce discomfort.

In this article, we’ll explore the various ways physical therapy can help relieve the pain from a pulled back muscle:

Stretching exercises

Stretching exercises are an effective way to reduce pain and improve flexibility following a pulled-back muscle. Foam rolling on tight, tender areas of the back can help release knots and tightness that can lead to discomfort. Additionally, gentle stretches and range of motion exercises are beneficial in relieving symptoms of a pulled-back muscle. Working with a physical therapist is recommended to ensure that the right amount of intensity is used when performing these stretches as some exercises require greater force than others due to individual differences in tissue health and movement abilities.

Common stretching exercises for a pulled back muscle include:

  • Hamstring Stretch: Start in a seated position, one leg extended out in front of you with your toes pointing up toward the ceiling. Reach your torso slightly forward without bouncing or excessive strain until you feel a stretch along the back of your thigh. Hold for 10-30 seconds then switch sides.
  • Knees To Chest: Lying flat on your back, bring one knee up towards your chest and hold for 10-20 seconds before repeating on the opposite side. Keep both feet pressed firmly into the floor throughout each stretch. Repeat 2-3 times per side as needed and focus on breathing deeply throughout each stretch.
  • Seated Spinal Twist: While seated in an upright position, cross one leg over the opposite knee while inhaling deeply into both sides of your torso equally until you feel the stretch travel down both sides of your body equally from head to toe. Hold each position for 5-10 breaths before swapping legs and repeating on the opposite side.

Strengthening exercises

Once you have taken appropriate steps to reduce the pain and swelling of a pulled-back muscle (such as rest, ice, compression, and elevation), you can begin doing exercises to help strengthen your back muscles. Building up your strength will help ensure that you are better able to prevent any future muscle pulls.

The goal of the strengthening exercises is to gradually increase the workload on the strained muscles until they achieve a healthy level of balance and stability. Work through a range of motion with a focus on improving neuromuscular coordination and postural control as well as flexibility. In addition, core strength and balance should be addressed by including core stability exercises in your routine.

It is important to work closely with a physical therapist who can customize an individualized program for you that addresses limited movement at the full range of motion associated with your injury, as well as provide a correct form for each exercise. Specific strengthening exercises may include:

  • Planks
  • Bridging
  • Band Pull Aparts
  • Y’s and T’s
  • Rows or Lat Pulldowns
  • Quadruped Arm/Leg Lifts
  • Supermans or Back Extensions


Massage is an important part of physical therapy for any kind of injury. When done correctly, massage can be used to reduce pain and inflammation, improve circulation, elongate muscles, and work out adhesions that can build up in places like the back and shoulders. Massage is also very beneficial for relaxation.

For pulled-back muscles in particular, massage can help to reduce the tension that has built up along the back of your body due to muscular strain or imbalance. This will decrease pain while increasing your range of motion and flexibility with time. Massage will also help relax the fascia which covers your muscles and ligaments in order to restore their natural ability to move properly during activity.

During a massage appointment, a qualified therapist will use a variety of strokes that are customized to your unique needs in order to target problem areas and release any tension or blockades that have developed within them. Depending on the extent of the injury or the amount of general tension present throughout your body, more than one session may be necessary in order for you to feel maximum relief from the pain associated with pulled-back muscles.


For some people, surgery may be the best option to reduce the pain of a pulled-back muscle. Surgery is a common procedure to treat a wide variety of issues, including pulled-back muscles. There are many different types of surgery for this condition, but there are also potential risks that must be taken into consideration.

This section will explore if surgery is the best option for pain relief for a pulled-back muscle.

Types of Surgery

There are multiple types of surgery that can be used to provide relief for a pulled-back muscle. Each type of surgery is carefully tailored to the particular characteristics of the affected area and the patient being treated. The options include:

  1. Fusion Surgery – This type of surgery is generally used for chronic back muscle pulls or serious sprains or strains. During this procedure, bones or vertebrae are fused together using tools such as screws, rods, and wires in order to limit movement at the area where the injury occurred.
  2. Laminectomy – During a laminectomy, small portions of bone that have grown over time due to constant wear and tear on the joint are removed in order to provide more space for the spinal nerves to move freely without becoming impinged or pinched.
  3. Diskectomy – This procedure involves removing a herniated disk that may be causing pressure on adjacent nerve roots leading to pain and inflammation in the affected muscles in your back region.
  4. Spinal Decompression – In this procedure, pressure is taken off injured areas by reshaping bones (osteophytes) that have resulted from aging or repeated joint usage that can be acting as spinal cord compression dysfunctions causing pain associated with pulled muscles in your back region permanently, thus relieving you from further irritation and pain effectively.

Each type of surgery has potential risks associated with it, so thorough research should be performed before any decisions are made regarding which option may best benefit you on an individual basis when suffering from severe back muscle pulls or strains.

Risks and benefits

When considering the risks and benefits of surgery for pain relief due to a pulled-back muscle, it is important to understand potential complications as well as the potential advantages offered. Surgery for this condition carries with it a variety of risks, including infection and nerve damage. It is also important to consider whether the benefits of surgery outweigh the costs and risks associated with the procedure.

The primary benefit of surgical intervention for pain relief from a pulled-back muscle is relief from pain. In addition, depending on the cause and extent of your injury, surgical repair may help improve mobility and reduce scar tissue formation in areas affected by your injury. Surgical intervention can also provide quicker access to physical therapy options, leading to quicker rehabilitation time or improved function after treatment. Lastly, many patients report satisfaction with their outcomes when choosing to proceed with this type of surgery.

On the flip side, there are certain potential risks associated with surgery for pain relief that must be taken into account as well. Aside from general complications related to anesthesia or any other medical procedure, there are also specific considerations such as:

  • Infection
  • Nerve damage

Additionally, some people find that surgery does not improve their symptoms even after completion due to weakened ligaments lingering from pre-surgery conditions or further trauma subsequent to the initial injury that impeded recovery success.

When determining whether the benefits outweigh the risks involved in pursuing surgical interventions for pain relief from a pulled-back muscle, it is best advised that you discuss these issues thoroughly with your doctor prior to consenting or declining such procedures.


The best way to avoid a pulled-back muscle is to be proactive and take simple steps to strengthen your back muscles. This can include stretching, strengthening exercises, and proper posture when lifting. Additionally, making small diet and lifestyle changes to improve your overall health can also help.

These preventative measures can help reduce your chances of straining your back muscles in the future.

Regular exercise

One of the most important ways to prevent a pulled back muscle is to engage in regular exercise. Having strong muscles can help reduce the risk of back pain, as well as increase flexibility and stability. Exercise also helps stimulate the production of fluids and nutrients which can improve joint mobility, cushioning, and lubrication in one’s spine. Additionally, engaging in regular exercise can increase muscle strength and endurance, ultimately providing better protection for our bodies against injury.

Some types of exercises that could be effective when performing back-strengthening workouts include:

  • Low-impact aerobic exercises such as walking, biking, jogging, or swimming;
  • Strength training such as weight lifting;
  • Stretching exercises like yoga and Pilates;
  • Core strengthening movements like sit-ups or planks.

It is important to focus on performing specific lower back exercises with proper form while avoiding any movements that could cause additional strain on one’s muscles. With persistence and dedication over time, a consistent exercise routine will help maintain good posture while reducing the risk of future injuries to one’s muscles.

Proper posture

An important part of preventing a pulled-back muscle is maintaining proper posture. Many everyday activities can strain your back, such as carrying heavy loads, sitting in one position for long periods of time, and not warming up properly before exercise. To reduce the risk of injury, you should avoid any actions that may cause strain to your back muscles.

Good posture involves keeping your head, neck, and spine in alignment when sitting or standing. You should keep your back straight, tuck in your chin and keep your shoulders down and level to reduce stress on the muscles in your back. In addition, make sure you take regular breaks from standing or sitting in one position for extended periods of time to allow the muscles to rest.

To further reduce the risk of a pulled muscle, it is important to warm up properly before any physical activity. Before engaging in strenuous activities, it’s important to gradually increase heart rate with exercises such as walking or light jogging that gently stretch out the muscle groups involved. You should also incorporate frequent stretching into your daily routine and incorporate strength training activities into exercise several times a week to help prevent pulls or strains caused by weak muscles.

Good sleeping habits

Good sleeping habits are essential for preventing pulled-back muscles and ensuring a healthy, pain-free lifestyle. When you have a pulled-back muscle, it is important to practice correct sleeping habits, such as not sleeping on your stomach and using proper posture.

To best take care of your back when sleeping, lie on your side with a pillow between your knees to keep your spine aligned. A rolled-up towel or pillow can also be used to support the natural curve in the lower part of the back while lying on one’s side. Make sure you find a mattress that provides enough support and cushioning to ensure that your hips and shoulders are aligned. If possible, opt for a softer mattress if you are prone to pulling muscles since firmer mattresses can place added stress on sore spots on the body due to added weight being placed onto them.

It is recommended to sleep with two pillows under either side of the neck with one placed underneath the shoulder blade area while lying in this position. Be sure not to sleep face down as it may put unnecessary strain on pulled-back muscles thereby reducing recovery time and increasing soreness. Shoulder pain can also be reduced by sleeping in this position with an arm bent under the pillow or in front of you if lying side-down and facing upwards so that it takes away some pressure from those areas of the body where there may be soreness or tension present.

In summary, following good sleeping habits can help reduce pain associated with pulled-back muscles since poor posture can often cause additional stressors onto already tender areas and should be avoided when attempting to recover from such an injury.

  1. Rest: Rest the affected muscle and avoid any strenuous activity or exercise for at least 48 hours.
  2. Ice: Apply an ice pack to the affected area for 15-20 minutes, 3-4 times a day.
  3. Compression: Wrap the affected area with an elastic bandage to reduce swelling.
  4. Elevation: Lie on your back and keep the affected area elevated. This will reduce swelling.
  5. Pain Relief: Over-the-counter medications such as ibuprofen and acetaminophen can help to reduce pain and inflammation.
  6. Physical Therapy: A physical therapist can help you with exercises and stretches to strengthen and stretch the affected muscle.
  7. Surgery: In some cases, surgery may be necessary to repair a torn or strained muscle.

The best treatment for a strained back muscle will depend on the severity. Generally, rest, ice, and over-the-counter pain medications are good starting points. For more serious strains, physical therapy or other treatments may be recommended.

The pain associated with a pulled muscle in the lower back can range from mild discomfort to severe, disabling pain. It may be dull, achy, or sharp and localized to the area of the injury. The pain can be accompanied by muscle spasms, tenderness, and stiffness.

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