Back Injury

This injury guide identifies back injuries; common causes of a back injury, symptoms, treatments and rehabilitation.

The back is made of bones, muscles, and other tissues extending from your neck to your pelvis. Back injuries commonly result from sports injuries or a sudden jolt such as a car accident. Jump to section:

Side Strain

Side Strain

What is side strain?

Side strain is a condition that is typically seen in cricket bowlers, but can affect a variety of people. It is characterized by a tear in the side abdominal muscles, where it connects to the lower ribs.

Side strain symptoms

Patients commonly feel a sudden, sharp pain or pulling sensation in the side of the chest or abdomen during vigorous activity. Symptoms can include:

  • Muscle pain or soreness
  • Stiffness and discomfort
  • Problems flexing or stretching muscle
  • Pain when touching the area
  • Muscle spasms
  • Swelling
  • Bruising

What causes side strain?

A side strain can happen suddenly, because of overstretching, or gradually over a period of time, due to excessive or repetitive movement. The strain commonly occurs because of sudden contraction of the internal oblique muscle. Activities synonymous with side strain include: bowling, throwing, heavy lifting, rowing, side sit ups, twisting, turning and side bending.

Side strain treatment

Side strain treatment is fairly straightforward.

Protection, rest, ice, compression and elevation (PRICE) is one of the most recommended approaches for the management of side stains. The aim is to minimize hemorrhage, swelling, inflammation and pain, to provide the best conditions for healing to take place.

The PRICE approach is recommended by NHS Choices:

  • Protection – protect the injured area from further injury – using a support bandage if appropriate
  • Rest – stop the activity that caused the injury, and rest the injured joint or muscle. Avoid activity for the first 48 to 72 hours after injury
  • Ice – for the first 48 to 72 hours after the injury, apply a cooling therapy like Physicool
  • Compression – compress or bandage the injured area to limit any swelling and movement that could damage it further
  • Elevation – keep the injured area raised and supported on a pillow to help reduce swelling

Physicool provides the key stages of PRICE in a single reusable bandage, providing protection, cooling and compression for the side strain to help the healing process. A Physicool bandage can be applied to the torso and the cooling effect recharged by spraying Physicool Coolant directly onto the bandage whilst it is in position.

Physicool is a unique cotton bandage impregnated with a patented liquid which draws heat away from the affected tissues by rapid evaporation. While the deep tissues are being cooled, the simultaneous compression effects of Physicool modify the inflammatory response to soft tissue damage which helps promote healing.



What is spondylolysis?

Spondylolysis is a fracture of the wing-shaped parts of a vertebra, which helps keep the vertebra in place. When one of these parts is hurt or damaged, the vertebra can move forward or backward over the bone below, occasionally rubbing on the spinal cord or nerve root. Spondylolisthesis usually occurs at the bottom of the spine.

Spondylolysis symptoms

  • Back pain
  • Numbness
  • Weakness in one or both legs
  • Loss of leg function
  • Swelling

What causes spondylolysis?

Like many causes of a back injury, spondylolysis has multiple causes. A defective vertebra can be congenital (from birth), broken through trauma, stress or fracture, or worn down by infection or disease. Spondylolysis is typically seen in children and adolescents who are active in athletics. The following sports are susceptible to the condition: diving, gymnastics, football and rowing.

Spondylolysis treatment

Treatment of spondylolysis aims at strengthening the abdominal and back muscles, coupled with improving day to day bodily functions. Use a Physicool bandage to reduce the pain and inflammation. If severe pain continues, surgery is an option.

  • Pain relief medication
  • Anti-inflammatories
  • Cooling therapy to relieve swelling and pain
  • Physical therapy
  • Surgery


Please Note

Some injuries can be self-treated whilst others require prompt medical attention. You should seek advice from a health professional if: the injury causes severe pain, swelling, or numbness; you can't tolerate weight on the area; the pain or dull ache of an old injury is accompanied by increased swelling or joint abnormality or instability.