What Are the Treatments for a Pulled Muscle in the Lower Back?

Pulling a muscle in the lower back can be very painful and according to the American Association of Neurological Surgeons, it is the most common reason for lower back pain. A frequent cause of this type of injury is improper lifting of heavy objects, as noted by the American Academy of Family Physicians. Several methods exist to treat pulled muscles in the lower back and symptoms are typically resolved within a few weeks.


Over-the-counter medications are usually effective in treating pain associated with a pulled muscle in the lower back. Types of medication include pain relievers and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen, which can treat both pain and inflammation related to the injury. The Mayo Clinic notes that in severe cases, individuals may require prescription strength drugs like codeine or injections of anti-inflammatory drugs. Injections are administered in the area of the pulled muscle.

Physical Therapy

Some individuals may benefit from massage or physical therapy. According to the American Association of Neurological Surgeons, a physical therapist can treat the pulled muscle with methods such as ice and heat therapy, and electrical muscle stimulation. In addition, physical therapists can teach individuals exercise and stretching methods to prevent further injury. The Mayo Clinic explains that massage can reduce muscle tension by relaxing tight muscles and improving circulation in muscles.

At-home Remedies

There are some techniques an individual can use at home to promote healing of pulled muscles in the lower back. The American Academy of Family Physicians explains that patients can get pain relief by laying flat on the floor with pillows beneath the knees. In some cases, an individual may need to rest in this position for more than a day; however, after two days, an individual should periodically walk around to prevent further damage to back muscles. In addition to bed rest, heating pads can also decrease any painful spasms related to the pulled muscle.

Alternative Therapies

Some alternative therapies can treat a pulled muscle as well. The Mayo Clinic describes the benefits of acupuncture and yoga, particularly for individuals with chronic problems of torn muscles. Yoga helps individuals to maintain better posture and strengthen back muscles to prevent future tears. In addition, certain supplements may reduce inflammation including willow bark. Individuals should consult a physician before pursuing alternative therapies.

About this Author

Based in New York City, Amber Angelle has been a science writer since 2008. Her articles have appeared in “Popular Mechanics,” “Discover” and “Popular Science.” Angelle also contributed to the textbook “Psychology Around Us” and to the encyclopedia series Salem Health: Cancer. She holds a Master of Science in pharmacology from Tulane University School of Medicine.