What Does It Mean To “Throw Out” Your Back?

You’ve probably hear someone say that they’ve “thrown out” their back before, but what exactly does this mean? Is there a specific diagnosis associated with throwing out your back, or is it more of a catch all term for various spinal conditions? In today’s blog, we take a closer look at what it means to throw out your back, and some of the best ways to treat the issue.

Throwing Out Your Back

When we looked online to see what others were saying about throwing out your back, we found that there isn’t really a consensus for what the term actually means. Some experts say that it’s simply a term used to describe a spinal muscle pull or tear, while others feel that it can encompass a much larger group of spinal conditions. In fact, there seems to be less of a consensus about the underlying cause of the condition, and more of an agreement about the symptoms it causes.

In other words, “throwing out your back” isn’t always caused by one specific injury. However, the following symptoms are generally considered to be present in someone who throws out their back:

With those symptoms in mind, here’s a look at some of the injuries that can present with some or all of the above symptoms:

Hurting your spine in this manner can occur for a number of different reasons, but oftentimes the injury occurs after the spine is overloaded in a moment of acute stress. It’s why you’ll often hear people talk about throwing out their back when they tried to lift something that was too heavy or they twisted their spine too far in one direction.

Diagnosing and Treating Thrown Out Backs

Because symptoms can develop for a variety of different injuries, it’s imperative that you seek out a spine specialist if you believe you threw out your back. If symptoms are as intense as described above, it’s highly unlikely they will just fade on their own over the course of 24-48 hours. Instead of waiting, head to a doctor and get a thorough diagnosis so that you can understand the best treatment methods.

During your evaluation, your spine specialist will conduct a physical exam and see if certain movements are difficult or cause symptoms to develop. They’ll also ask about your symptoms and when pain first developed. Odds are they’ll have a pretty good idea what’s going after this exam, but they’ll typically confirm their suspicions with the help of an imaging test like an X-ray, MRI or CT scan.

From there, treatment is based on your specific diagnosis. Muscle injuries will be treated differently than herniated discs, but for many individuals, treatment will involve a course of rest, anti-inflammatory medications, physical therapy and controlled exercises to help develop strength in the spine. For others, a minimally invasive surgery may be required.

For more information about throwing our your back, or to set up an appointment with a specialist if you’ve done something to your spine, give Dr. Chang and his team a call today at (651) 430-3800.

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