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Torn Ligaments in the Back

by
author image Jessica McCahon
Jessica began her writing career in 1995 and is Senior Editor at a London communications agency, where she writes and edits corporate publications covering health, I.T., banking and finance. Jessica has also written for consumer magazines including "Cosmopolitan" and travel, home/lifestyle and bridal titles. Jessica holds a Bachelor of Arts in English literature and journalism from the University of Queensland.
Torn Ligaments in the Back
Weight gain during pregnancy places extra pressure on the spine and can cause ligament tears. Photo Credit Pixland/Pixland/Getty Images

There are 14 main ligaments in your back, called spinal ligaments, which help protect your vertebrae and keep them in position and help you stay upright, according to the Spine Universe website. When one of these ligaments is overstretched through sudden or extreme movements, it can become painful or may even tear, which is known as a torn ligament.

Causes of a Torn Back Ligament

Ligaments are tough, fibrous cords that link bones and cartilage. They are designed to restrict certain movements that may cause injury -- for example, ligaments help prevent you from rolling over on your ankle or over-extending your knee, according to the Spine Universe website. Because of their stabilizing role, ligaments are not very flexible, so it is not unusual to tear one through excessive or jolting movement. Common causes of spinal ligament tears are heavy lifting, contact sports, racquet sports that require you to twist and lunge, poor posture that throws your spine out of alignment, and pregnancy and weight gain, both of which can place excess pressure on your spinal ligaments.

Symptoms of a Torn Back Ligament

According to Spine Universe, this type of injury -- which is also referred to as a sprain -- can be painful and result in decreased range of movement, tenderness or pain when moving, and muscle spasms. Inflammation, swelling and bruising are also common, says the Patient UK website. A doctor will usually be able to diagnose your condition by reviewing your recent activity levels and doing a physical examination. But, in more serious cases where there is muscle weakness or vertebrae have been knocked out of alignment, you may require an x-ray.

Treatment

Initial treatment for a torn spinal ligament involves protecting and resting the injured area, applying ice and compression and keeping it elevated if possible, says the Patient UK website. If your torn ligament has caused your back to become inflamed or particularly painful, an anti-inflammatory medication may help. Check with your doctor or pharmacist about the best one for you to take. And while your symptoms may make you feel like taking to your bed, staying moderately active will reduce stiffness and maintain your range of movement. If your symptoms persist or worsen, see your doctor, because you may have sustained a serious ligament tear that, in rare cases, may require surgery.

Prevention

According to the Sports Injury Bulletin, avoid a torn ligament in your back by doing regular back strengthening and stretching exercises. When done during recovery from a torn ligament, gentle exercises can help you heal. Strengthening your abdominal muscles will also help support your back and take excess pressure off your ligaments.

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