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If you’ve ever struggled with sharp, intense pain in your back, you may have asked (or cried to!) yourself, “why did my back go out?” That description isn’t entirely accurate. After all, nothing has really “gone out.” Your spine and vertebrae are all still there. The issue is that your vertebra has shifted slightly from its usual position in relation to the vertebrae above and below. That impedes its normal movement with both neighboring vertebrae and the entire spine. So how does that happen? And what should you do now? Here’s what to know when your back goes out.

What Happened?

Your spine is held together by ligaments and discs, which also manage a normal range of motion. When you have weakness or damage to the discs or ligaments, which can happen for a number of reasons (an injury, arthritis, muscle spasm, etc.), their positioning is compromised. And that affects the vertebra’s movement above and below, which creates a physical chain reaction in the body. The “stuck” vertebra creates irritation in surrounding nerves. Nearby ligaments, tendons, muscles, and other tissues fire erratically, and are themselves weakened and compromised. One wrong move and you feel it – your back just went out.


Throwing out your back is incredibly painful, but you can manage your pain at home with these tips:

  • Stop whatever you’re going and try to lie down in a neutral position on your back to better align your spine.
  • Use ice packs on the sore area for 20 minutes to help reduce inflammation and pain. You can also try an over-the-counter anti-inflammatory like ibuprofen.

A visit to a chiropractor like Dr. Lynelle McSweeney here in Reno is also a great option. She can evaluate your condition to determine whether an adjustment is necessary to correct the shifted vertebra. In that case, your adjustment will also reduce the wear and tear on the disc and ligaments, which creates even more weakness. Dr. McSweeney will also recommend posture and exercise strategies and home remedies that will help you recover faster and reduce the likelihood of future issues.