Back sprain symptoms: Five most common symptoms of back ailment – are you at risk?

NHS explain the best ways to treat back pain

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The Queen, 95, was forced to skip an important royal occasion over the weekend because of a back sprain. Back pain is the largest single cause of disability in the UK, with lower back pain accounting for 11 percent of the total disability of the UK population. This type of back pain is on the rise. But how do you recognise and treat it?

The Queen missed the Remembrance Sunday service at the Cenotaph on Sunday due to a back sprain.

She has only missed this important occasion six times during her 69 years on the throne – four because she was on tour abroad and twice while pregnant.

A Buckingham Palace source said the sprain was unrelated to the unspecified ailment which caused the Queen’s recent hospital visit and called it an “incredibly unfortunate coincidence”.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he had seen the Queen last week and reassured the nation she was well.

Speaking on Sunday, he told reporters: “I did see the queen for an audience last week, on Wednesday in Windsor, and she’s very well.”

What are the symptoms of a back sprain?

Back pain is very common and often improves within a few weeks or months.

Often it is not possible to identify the cause of back pain.

Sometimes the pain may be from an injury such as a sprain or strain, but often it can be a result of no apparent reason.

A back sprain is the stretching or tearing of a ligament.

Ligaments are the fibrous bands of tissue that connect two or more bones at a joint and prevent excessive movement of that joint.

Back sprains and other types of sprains are very common injuries – and in fact next to a headache, back ailments are the most common complaint made to healthcare professionals.

A sprain in one’s back is often the result of a fall, sudden twist or a blow to the body which forces a joint out of its normal position.

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The key symptoms of a back sprain include:

  • Pain which worsens when you move
  • Muscle cramping
  • Muscle spasms, including sudden and uncontrollable muscle contractions
  • Decreased function and/or range of motion of the joint including difficulty walking, bending forward or sideways or standing straight.
  • A pop at the time of the injury.

What factors put you at additional risk of a back sprain?

There are many factors that put a person at greater risk of a back sprain.

Having weak back or abdominal muscles, and/or tight hamstrings is one key factor which puts people at greater risk of a back sprain.

Additionally, curving the lower back excessively and being overweight can put you at a greater risk.

Those engaged in sports, particularly where pushing and pulling exercises are involved such as weightlifting or football, can also lead to lower back injuries.

How to treat a back sprain

Most people with sprains or strains can wait between four and six weeks before calling a doctor.

The pain usually disappears before the six-week point.

However, if you have a serious injuring you may need to seek medical advice from a professional.

A doctor will move often attempt to control the pain with painkillers and/or muscle relaxants.

Physical therapy may also be used to help quicken recovery and prevent a recurrence.

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