What Does it Mean to Throw Your Back Out?

Explore what it really means to ‘throw your back out’, uncover the symptoms, causes, treatment options and preventative measures for this common but debilitating condition.

Understanding ‘Throwing Your Back Out’

When someone mentions they’ve ‘thrown their back out,’ it often invokes an image of sudden, unbearable back pain. Despite being a common phrase, ‘throwing your back out’ is not a medical term. It’s a general term people use to describe severe back pain that typically arises after doing a strenuous activity.


Having ‘thrown your back out’ may present several symptoms, such as:

  • Sudden severe back pain
  • Reduced mobility or inability to straighten up
  • Back muscles spasms which may extend to the hips or legs

Potential Causes

Typically, throwing your back out is triggered by a specific action such as heavy lifting, sudden movement, or falling. These actions can strain muscles or ligaments, cause a disc to rupture or prolapse, or produce microscopic tears in the tissues surrounding the spine.

Treatment Options

Initial treatments often involve a combination of rest, painkillers, and heat or cold therapy. Physical therapy, chiropractic care, and in some severe cases, surgery might be necessary.

Prevention is Key

Avoiding situations where your back could be injured is the ideal way to prevent throwing your back out. This could be through maintaining healthy body weight, regular exercise, using correct lifting techniques, and having a good posture in general.

Always consult a medical professional if you suspect you have ‘thrown your back out’. Understanding more about this common but potentially debilitating condition can help you manage, treat and even avoid it in the future.

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