Diagnosis: Back Muscle Pain

 In Exercise and Health

muscle pain


Back muscle pain is a very common cause of low back pain in active people. It will generally present the day after an intense activity and can last for over a weak in cases where there is no muscle tear. Back muscle pain is also known to occur spontaneously in some people. People with this issue will have localized pain in the back muscles, but no problem with the vertebrae and associated structures. They will have a lot of tenderness and some spasm as well. People with back muscle pain can often present in a protective posture to stop the muscles from firing and causing more pain.

Back muscle pain is a very common cause of low back pain in active people. #performbetter @pogophysio Click To Tweet


Back muscle pain can occur for a variety of reasons. The most common is heavy lifting or intense activity that the person is not accustomed to. A great example is moving house and lifting a lot of objects in one day, the muscles become very sore and damaged as they are not used to this load. Back muscle pain can also be cause by poor postures, be it lifting, standing or sitting postures. Poor postures can stress particular back muscles, over work them and make them very sore. This is a viscous cycle as sore back muscles can cause these postures to become even more poor (Ullrich, 2016).


Back muscle pain can be diagnosed in clinic by a physiotherapist. First the therapist will perform an interview to find out about previous activities and hypothesize the cause of the problem. They will then perform tests on the spine to rule out other spinal problems that may be causing the same pain. The physio will then palpate the muscles and perform specific muscle tests to determine which particular muscle/muscle group is causing problem. Specification of the muscles helps to direct treatment of the problem (Mense & Gerwin, 2010).


Treatment of back muscle pain is effective in reducing the recovery time from this problem. Therapy focuses on reducing the pain and inflammation, getting blood into the muscles and strengthening them. Perhaps the most important part of treatment is identifying what has caused the problem and addressing it. Pain and inflammation can be reduced by using electrical stimulation, ultrasound and anti-inflammatory creams and tablets. Certain back exercises can be prescribing to get blood into the muscle to ensure effective healing, massage and other techniques also have a good healing effect. Eliminating the cause of the problem could be as simple as observing and correcting the patients lifting posture so that they lift more with their legs, decreasing the force on the spine and the back muscles (Mense & Gerwin, 2010).

Daniel O’Connor
Student Physiotherapist


Mense, S. & Gerwin, R. (2010). Muscle pain (pp. 311-365). Berlin: Springer.

Ullrich, P. (2016). Pulled Back Muscle and Lower Back Strain. Spine-health. Retrieved 27 October 2016, from http://www.spine-health.com/conditions/lower-back-pain/pulled-back-muscle-and-lower-back-strain

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