Back discomfort sensations and symptoms could indicate pulled-back muscles. Unless you’ve experienced the condition before, determining the cause can be difficult. A pulled-back muscle can start as a sudden, sharp sting when bending, reaching, or twisting. Or it can present gradually, worsening over a few days. It is a common injury, but if left untreated could take several weeks, and in severe cases, a few months, to heal correctly. Injury Medical Chiropractic and Functional Medicine Clinic can help diagnose the problem and develop a customized treatment plan to restore optimal function and health.

Pulled Back Muscles: EP's Chiropractic Team

Pulled Back Muscles

A pulled muscle describes a strained muscle.

  • A strain is a muscle or tendon injury that happens when the tissue overstretches or tears.
  • When a ligament stretches or tears, it’s called a sprain.
  • Most cases can be managed and treated at home.
  • But if the symptoms are not improving or make it difficult to move, see a doctor or chiropractor.


Common signs and symptoms of a pulled-back muscle include:

  • Swelling
  • Tenderness
  • Soreness – Sore muscles that feel tight and achy usually indicate a condition that is likely to improve in a few days. More severe soreness could indicate a more significant injury.
  • Spasms – A sudden convulsive spasm in the muscle can also indicate a pull. This can feel like a sudden tightening that does not release. The muscle can continue to spasm and lead to other symptoms.
  • Cramping – A muscle can cramp can lead to increased tightness whenever trying to use the muscle.
  • Pain – Can be characterized as a constant dullness and/or soreness in most situations or, in severe cases, sharp and shooting.
  • Discomfort when moving around. If pain flares up when trying to move or use the back muscles is usually an indication that something is wrong.
  • Relief during inactivity and rest. When lying down to rest or taking a temporary break, and the symptoms disappear could also be an indication of a pulled-back muscle or another injury.


The most common causes are:

A Strained Muscle

  • This causes some damage to a region of muscle tissue, usually the result of being over-used or torn from another injury.

Sprained Ligaments

  • Involves damage to the ligaments in a joint, usually those in the spinal vertebrae.

A Herniated Disc

  • This involves damage to the discs that can leak out, irritating the surrounding tissues and nerves and can cause shifting and misalignment of the spine.

These conditions are distinct, but the symptoms can be similar.


It is important to consult a medical professional before treating an injury because symptoms of other injuries, such as disc problems or a broken bone, can resemble strains and sprains. Most treatments will utilize:

Ice and Heat

  • Ice helps reduce inflammation.
  • The faster ice can be applied to a pulled-back muscle, the quicker pain and swelling are reduced, and the healing process can begin.
  • Apply a cold pack for 15-20 minutes as soon as the injury occurs.
  • Take a 20-minute break between each cold application.
  • After the first days, alternate cold therapy with heat to increase circulation.
  • Try a 20-20-20 rule: 20 minutes of an ice pack followed by a 20-minute break, then 20 minutes of heat.
  • Repeat as necessary, allowing 20 minutes between heat or ice therapy.

Limited Rest

  • Right after a muscle strain, limiting physical activity levels and avoiding movements are recommended for a short period.
  • After the initial pain subsides, partial activity levels are recommended to help prevent the muscles from weakening.



  • Returning to activities, gentle stretching exercises can improve tissue healing by increasing blood circulation to the injured area.
  • Applying heat to the area before stretching can also help.

Strength Training

  • Ask a doctor or chiropractor about the right strength exercises for your condition.
  • Strength training will develop the muscles to prevent future injuries.

Pain Medication

  • Pain levels are an important indicator during the recovery process.
  • Pain medications relieve symptoms but do not assist with healing and should only be used short-term to provide relief.
  • If you need pain medication, consult your physician to determine the appropriate type and dosage for your situation.


  • Blood circulation to the injured tissues is increased with massage therapy.


  • A chiropractor can diagnose back pain from a muscle or disc injury and develop an individualized treatment plan.

Chiropractic Therapy


Allen, Laura. “Case Study: The Use of Massage Therapy to Relieve Chronic Low-Back Pain.” International journal of therapeutic massage & bodywork vol. 9,3 27-30. 9 Sep. 2016, doi:10.3822/ijtmb.v9i3.267

Kumar, Saravana et al. “The effectiveness of massage therapy for the treatment of nonspecific low back pain: a systematic review of systematic reviews.” International journal of general medicine vol. 6 733-41. 4 Sep. 2013, doi:10.2147/IJGM.S50243

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The information herein on "Pulled Back Muscles: Sciatica Functional Wellness Clinic" is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional or licensed physician and is not medical advice. We encourage you to make healthcare decisions based on your research and partnership with a qualified healthcare professional.

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Our information scope is limited to Chiropractic, musculoskeletal, physical medicines, wellness, contributing etiological viscerosomatic disturbances within clinical presentations, associated somatovisceral reflex clinical dynamics, subluxation complexes, sensitive health issues, and/or functional medicine articles, topics, and discussions.

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Dr. Alex Jimenez
Specialties: Stopping the PAIN! We Specialize in Treating Severe Sciatica, Neck-Back Pain, Whiplash, Headaches, Knee Injuries, Sports Injuries, Dizziness, Poor Sleep, Arthritis. We use advanced proven therapies focused on optimal Mobility, Posture Control, Deep Health Instruction, Integrative & Functional Medicine, Functional Fitness, Chronic Degenerative Disorder Treatment Protocols, and Structural Conditioning. We also integrate Wellness Nutrition, Wellness Detoxification Protocols and Functional Medicine for chronic musculoskeletal disorders. We use effective "Patient Focused Diet Plans", Specialized Chiropractic Techniques, Mobility-Agility Training, Cross-Fit Protocols, and the Premier "PUSH Functional Fitness System" to treat patients suffering from various injuries and health problems. Ultimately, I am here to serve my patients and community as a Chiropractor passionately restoring functional life and facilitating living through increased mobility. Purpose & Passions: I am a Doctor of Chiropractic specializing in progressive cutting-edge therapies and functional rehabilitation procedures focused on clinical physiology, total health, functional strength training, functional medicine, and complete conditioning. We focus on restoring normal body functions after neck, back, spinal and soft tissue injuries. We use Specialized Chiropractic Protocols, Wellness Programs, Functional & Integrative Nutrition, Agility & Mobility Fitness Training and Cross-Fit Rehabilitation Systems for all ages. As an extension to dynamic rehabilitation, we too offer our patients, disabled veterans, athletes, young and elder a diverse portfolio of strength equipment, high-performance exercises and advanced agility treatment options. We have teamed up with the cities' premier doctors, therapist and trainers in order to provide high-level competitive athletes the options to push themselves to their highest abilities within our facilities. We've been blessed to use our methods with thousands of El Pasoans over the last 3 decades allowing us to restore our patients' health and fitness while implementing researched non-surgical methods and functional wellness programs. Our programs are natural and use the body's ability to achieve specific measured goals, rather than introducing harmful chemicals, controversial hormone replacement, un-wanted surgeries, or addictive drugs. We want you to live a functional life that is fulfilled with more energy, a positive attitude, better sleep, and less pain. Our goal is to ultimately empower our patients to maintain the healthiest way of living. With a bit of work, we can achieve optimal health together, no matter the age, ability or disability.