How Long Will It Take for a Pulled Muscle in My Back to Heal?

How Long Will It Take for a Pulled Muscle in My Back to Heal?

From lifting a heavy box to simply twisting in an unusual way, there are plenty of ways you can strain your back muscles. Because your lower back has to support the weight of the upper half of your body, pulling a muscle in the back is pretty common.

In most cases, that muscle will heal on its own if you take it easy for a bit. 

That said, you should monitor the injury. If it’s not getting better, it’s time to come visit Dr. Jonathan Carlson at Hawai’i Pain and Spine on the Windward side of O’ahu in Kailua. As a specialist in back pain, he has a wide range of options to support your healing and alleviate any pain you’re feeling. 

So, when is it time to make an appointment with us? Let’s take a look. 

The outlook for a pulled back muscle

In most cases, your back muscle should heal on its own in 2–4 weeks. You should start to see some improvement after the first week and make steady progress as the muscle repairs itself. 

Allowing your body to heal requires you to protect the muscle. You need to take it easy and avoid straining your back further. 

To support your healing, you can use some at-home care techniques, too. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen can decrease swelling in the strained muscle, easing any pain you’re experiencing. Similarly, icing the pulled muscle helps. Always put a towel or something else between your skin and the ice. 

Long story short, with proper rest and at-home care, most pulled back muscles will heal in a few weeks. All of this said, you should seek medical care right away if your back pain comes with:

Those could indicate that something more serious is going on in your body. 

What to do if your back isn’t healing

If you’ve hit the two-week mark and your back doesn’t seem to be getting better, come visit us. 

At our office, Dr. Carlson evaluates your back to determine if a pulled muscle really is the root source of your pain. He starts with a physical exam. If he suspects something else could be affecting your back, he might recommend ​​diagnostic imaging tests like X-rays, MRI scans, or CT scans. 

Once Dr. Carlson determines what’s causing your back pain, he tailors treatment to you. That might mean physical therapy paired with platelet-rich plasma (PRP) injections to provide the area with more resources it can use to heal, for example. For severe pain, he may also recommend epidural steroid injections to give you temporary relief. 

All told, you can wait a couple of weeks to see if your pulled back muscle heals on its own. If it’s not improving, call our office to schedule an appointment so Dr. Carlson can help your back heal and alleviate your discomfort. 

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