Soft tissue back pain is caused by an injury or strain to muscles, tendons or ligaments in the lower or middle back. This condition most commonly occurs in the lumbar spine (lower back) because this section of the back is extremely flexible and supports the majority of the body’s weight. The combination of flexibility and stress makes the lumbar spine particularly susceptible to injury. This explains why nearly everyone experiences lower back pain at some point in their life. Back pain originating in soft tissue almost always responds to conservative, non-surgical treatment. If back pain persists for more than a few days we recommend you consult your physician to ensure another issue is not actually causing discomfort.
Soft tissue injuries
The most common cause of back pain is soft tissue injury. These injuries often occur at inopportune times and through mechanisms not associated with injury. For example, a minor twisting motion while doing yard work may overstretch a low back muscle not normally used in this way. Of course, a major auto accident may cause obvious musculoskeletal injury, but it also causes a more subtle injury. In most cases, soft tissue back pain will heal without professional attention after a few days of taking it easy; however, severe or long-lasting pain should be brought to the attention of your physician. After a full review of your medical history and a physical examination, your physician will typically recommend a conservative treatment plan that can include:
- Pain medication like acetaminophen
- Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications, like ibuprofen
- Heat therapy to increase circulation
- Cold therapy to reduce swelling
- Deep tissue massage to relax the back muscles
- Physical therapy or stretching to prevent muscle spasms
- Specific exercises to strengthen the weak back muscles
- Limited rest while giving the injury time to heal
If soft tissue back pain persists after exhausting all conservative treatment options, more aggressive therapy may be suggested. Before consenting to an invasive traditional open spine surgical procedure, contact Laser Spine Institute to learn how one of our minimally invasive outpatient procedures may provide the relief desired.