How are back strains and sprains treated?

The treatment for strains and sprains is similar, and often takes place in two phases.

The goal of the first phase is to reduce the pain and spasm. This may involve rest, and the use of ice packs and compression (pressure), especially for the first 24 to 48 hours after the injury. An over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug, such as ibuprofen (Motrin®), may be recommended to help reduce pain and swelling.

After the first 24 to 48 hours, returning to normal activities, as tolerated, is advisable. Extended bed rest or immobility (nonmovement) simply prolongs symptoms and delays recovery.

Most people with lumbar strain/sprain symptoms improve in about 2 weeks. If symptoms continue for more than 2 weeks, additional treatment may be required.

What complications are associated with back strains and sprains?

The most common complication of a back strain or sprain is a reduction in activity, which can lead to weight gain, loss of bone density, and loss of muscle strength and flexibility in other areas of the body.

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 11/09/2018.

References

  • National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. Low Back Pain Fact Sheet. Accessed 11/16/2018.
  • National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. Sprains and Strains. Accessed 11/16/2018.
  • American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. Back and Neck Pain. Accessed 11/16/2018.
  • American Association of Neurological Surgeons. Low Back Pain. Accessed 11/16/2018.

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