How to treat a lower back muscle tear

Updated April 17, 2017

Torn lower back muscles can occur as a result of a sports or work-related injury. People can also sustain a torn lower back muscle in an automobile accident or fall. According to orthopaedic surgeon Dr. Peter F. Ullrich Jr., in his article "Low Back Pain from Muscle Strain" on, "a muscle strain happens when the muscle is overstretched or torn, resulting in damage to the muscle fibres (a pulled muscle)." Treatment for a lower back muscle tear usually includes a combination of rest, ice, heat, medication and exercise.

Stop all physical activity and exercising for several days. During this time, take two ibuprofen pills every four to six hours while you are awake.

Put ice in an ice pack or inside a towel. Lie down on the ice pack or towel so that it is directly compressed against the source of your back pain. Repeat this procedure every three to four hours throughout the day.

Apply a heating pad on your back for 15 to 20 minutes several times per day after the inflammation has subsided.

Perform the following exercise once your initial inflammation and pain are under control: Lie on your back with both of your knees propped up and your feet on the floor. Slowly press your lower back against the floor. Hold that position for two to five seconds, then relax. Do 10 total repetitions.

Grab both of your knees, while still lying down, and pull them toward your chest. Hold that position for two to five seconds, then relax. Complete 10 repetitions.


Your rest period should be at least 72 hours. During this time, you should consider wearing a back brace to limit your lower back movement and for support. Ice should be used for at least 48 to 72 hours. Ice causes vasoconstriction (narrowing of blood vessels), which controls inflammation and consequential pain by limiting the flow of blood and lymph to your lower back. Once the initial swelling has subsided, heat will increase blood flow to your back, bringing oxygen and nutrients that are necessary for healing. Massaging the muscles can eliminate scar tissue. Scar tissue can permanently weaken a muscle and make it more prone to future injuries Exercise can increase the flexibility and strength in your lower back, providing more stability to the area and relieving pressure. When exercising, it is important to work the lower back muscles as well as adjacent muscles. Stronger buttocks, abdomen and legs can better support your lower back.


Never apply ice directly to the skin of your back as this can cause frostbite. Also, do not start exercising until your inflammation and pain have subsided a bit. Exercising too early after an injury can make it worse.

Things You'll Need

  • Ice
  • Ice pack
  • Heating pad
  • Ibuprofen (Motrin or Advil)
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