Woman in workout gear outdoors, clutching her lower back in pain

What Does it Mean to Throw Out Your Back?

Throwing out your back is a term used to describe what happens when the muscles in your back have been strained. This happens when you lift a heavy object incorrectly, overwork, stretch too far or awkwardly, or have improper posture.


When you throw out your back, you can’t live life fully. That’s not only painful, it’s also very stressful as you have a hard time working and doing the things you enjoy.


It’s important to know that “throwing out your back” isn’t a specific condition. When you suddenly experience back pain, the cause of your pain will be specific to you: your body, your lifestyle, your activities.


I occasionally experience acute locked back syndrome. 

Acute locked back syndrome is one version of “throwing out your back.” My most recent experience happened in late June. 


While unloading SUP gear for a fun outing in Moss Landing with Dr. Michaela, my back shifted and I felt a teeny, tiny click.


The initial click in my back was the facet joint—a place where I have a history of instability and degenerative arthritis. Over the next few minutes, my body went into a protective muscle spasm.

I was able to get out of pain and back into life in a few days with both chiropractic and self-care.


On day one, I was basically on bed-rest with ice and TENS. The next day I felt better, so I did some gentle stretching, core activation and mobility work. I adjusted myself (using my Activator) and used RockPods to facilitate better movement and to release tension. This was my best treatment plan, yours could be different. 


What are the symptoms of throwing out your back?

You will most likely notice severe pain. Other symptoms could include:

  • Stiffness
  • Inability to move
  • Tightening of the muscles
  • Pain
  • Muscle spasms

Typically the pain lasts for about 10-14 days. Healing can be sped up with chiropractic care. If you think you may have thrown your back out, make an appointment with us online. 


How does chiropractic help when you throw out your back?

Seeking the help and expertise of your chiropractor can help you ensure your muscles heal correctly.


Chiropractic care holistically treats the muscles and nerves surrounding the spine. If your back is bothering you, a chiropractor can apply some adjustments to get your back moving better and to ease your pain.  


Also, most people that throw out their back once will throw it out again. Regular chiropractic treatments will help you avoid re-injury, which plagues so many people for the rest of their lives.


The chiropractors at Golden Chiropractic in Aptos will develop a treatment plan that will make your recovery process quicker and more bearable.


Should you get a massage when you throw out your back?

A massage therapist can help alleviate some of the muscle spasm and tension from the pulled or strained muscles. Massage helps to relax the muscles and ease any "pinching" of the nerves as they pass thru the area.


What is the best self-care when you throw out your back?

1. Stop what you’re doing.

The first thing you should do if you believe you’ve thrown out your back is stop and stand still. If you feel a strike of pain go thru your back, don’t try to push thru it. Instead, walk slowly to a safe area and sit down, with your back upright.


2. Rest!

When you throw out your back, rest so your muscles can recover.

  • Supporting your back with pillows will reduce muscle strain
  • Lying flat on your back on a hard surface is ideal


3. Manage your pain.

Getting rest is easier when you feel less pain.

  • In the beginning, try applying ice packs for up to 20 minutes. Ice reduces inflammation and can ease soreness
  • Take over-the-counter NSAIDS like ibuprofen to reduce inflammation and pain
  • Apply heat after a few days. Heat opens your blood vessels, which increases blood flow to speed healing


4. Exercise.

Ease back into exercise to keep your muscles working.

  • Begin slowly getting back into your normal activities, as long as you can do them comfortably
  • Start with gentle stretching for short periods
  • Avoid heavy lifting, twisting, or other intense activity until you’re completely healed
  • If you start to feel discomfort, go back to resting


5. Prevent future accidents.

Moving your body is key to preventing re-injury. Here are a few rules of thumb to keep in mind:

  • Use good posture, lift properly, and push and pull objects the right way
  • Regular physical activity and avoiding a sedentary lifestyle is also crucial
  • Keeping your core and legs strong will help keep you from throwing out your back because they are your lifting muscles. When your core and legs are weak, you end up using your back to lift, opening yourself up for a back injury
  • Flexibility is also essential because tight muscles are more injury-prone than loose muscles


When should I see a medical doctor?

If you feel persistent pain, or your OTC medications aren't working, see your medical provider. Sometimes stronger pain medication will be prescribed and/or muscle relaxers. It’s important to get good rest and these medications can help you sleep better at night. 

You may need to see a doctor if you:

  • Can't stand up
  • Feel numbness
  • Have a fever
  • Experience abnormal bowel movements

Your doctor may need to order x-rays, a CT scan, or an MRI to get to the root of the problem.


The only way to know for sure why you’re having back pain is to be assessed by a medical professional.

If you’re experiencing back pain that is new to you and came on suddenly, it’s always best to get a specific diagnosis. When you know the cause of your pain, you will be able to get the right treatment plan for you. Getting back into life as soon as possible happens when you get the right diagnosis and the right treatment protocol (and do your prescribed exercises ).


If you've thrown out your back and are ready to see a chiropractor, contact our office today. We will have your back feeling as good as new and will help you keep it that way.



Contact Information

 9053 Soquel Dr A
Aptos, CA 95003


(831) 661-5577
 (831) 851-3502


Opening Hours

Monday Closed

Tuesday 10:00 AM - 06:00 PM

Wednesday 10:00 AM - 06:00 PM

Thursday 10:00 AM - 06:00 PM

Friday 09:00 PM - 04:00 PM

Saturday Closed

Sunday Closed

Copyright © 2024 · Powered by LOCALiQ