Pinched Nerve or Pulled Muscle? Here’s How to Know

How do you know if you have a pinched nerve or a pulled muscle?

Can a muscle strain cause nerve damage?

And how to treat both of these conditions – at home?

pinched or pulled muscle in lower back

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Finding the cause of your back pain without a physician’s examination is difficult.

However, this guide will reveal 2 simple ways to determine if your back pain is caused by a pinched nerve or a pulled muscle, and how to heal both – naturally and quickly.

Pinched Nerve or Pulled Muscle?

Clue #1

A pulled muscle occurs when you tear or overstretch some of your muscle fibers.

A pulled muscle is usually described as a dull aching pain. Injured muscles can cause a surprising amount of pain and can become inflamed and spasmed, causing back pain and significant stiffness.

Muscle strain can also feel like throbbing, tenderness, cramping, stiffness, and aching and accompanied by swelling.

A compressed (pinched) nerve happens when the pressure in an area causes the nerve impulses to become partially blocked. You may experience radiating, burning pain in the affected area.

The pinched nerve feels more like sharp-shooting pain and may be accompanied by numbness and tingling.

👉 See the best low back pinched nerve home treatment you can do, including the best stretches!

 Clue #2 

A pulled muscle is usually localized in one area. The area should feel tender when touched and when you try to use the muscle, you feel immediate pain.

Pinched nerve pain can be felt all along the course of the nerve, and usually radiates down the length of the leg, so you feel back pain along with pain in one or both of your legs.

There are many other signs of nerve injury: muscles that get smaller, color change in the skin, and changes to the amount of sweat in certain areas.

Can A Strained Muscle Cause Nerve Damage?

According to the Mayo Clinic, nerve injury can happen due to stretching or pressing on the nerve, and also as a result of conditions that affect the nerves, such as diabetes.

A muscle strain can irritate the local nerves, but it most likely won’t cause severe nerve damage, such as a complete cut of the nerve.

Nerve damage from a pulled muscle will heal on its own.

 How to Heal a Pulled Muscle in Your Back

A muscle strain, also called a pulled muscle, occurs when a muscle is overstretched or overworked, and small tears occur within the muscle.

A pulled muscle can take up to 6 weeks to heal completely.


You can speed your recovery in many ways:

Self-Massage – using a simple self-massage tool can promote blood circulation to the injury area in your back and speed up healing significantly.

Theracane self-massage tool

Infrared Heat Therapy – using an infrared heating pad, which emits deep-penetrating IR rays up to 3 cm inside your tissues, can relieve your pain without pills – for more than 6 hours post-treatment.

I have the BioMat at home, which is my own personal in-house doctor, and I use it all the time:

infrared light therapy for muscle pain

👉 See the 4 BEST infrared heating pads for back pain.

 How to Heal a Lumbar Pinched Nerve 

There are a few possible causes for a pinched nerve (slipped disc, herniated disc, ruptured disc, degenerative disc disease, and piriformis syndrome).

But no matter the cause, there are 2 simple steps you have to take to naturally cure your pinched nerve.

Do not fool yourself to think that it will go away or heal on its own and please do not start relying on dangerous pain medication to keep your sanity.

 To your health and happiness,


21 thoughts on “Pinched Nerve or Pulled Muscle? Here’s How to Know”

  1. I reached down in a weird motion to get a shopping bag yesterday and felt a dull pain in my back, it hurt a little but not to bad. I woke up this morning in worse pain. It hurts to bend, stand, and if i were to stomp i can feel it in my lower back. It is only on my lower back though, it isn’t spreading down my legs or anything but the pain is intense. Im not sure if i pulled a muscle or pinched a nerve

  2. Pain in lower back. Been going on for months. Just as one side was getting better, I started lifting weights. Then the other side started to hurt… I’m pretty sure that is from either poor form, or overworking a lower back mucles, but the problem is that it’s only on one side. When I do activities that involve leg/back movement, it hurts after. Then when I rest, it begins to feel better. However when I bend down I feel the pain radiate through the back of my leg, about to the end of my hamstrings. It feels like it’s being ripped or torn. The pain is hard to identify. It doesn’t feel like a shock, and my leg doesn’t go numb. But when I try to rub the spot on my back, I can’t find it. Any ideas?

    • It sounds like a pinched nerve from Sciatica. Most of the time this heals on its own or with the help of some good stretches, massage, and heat. But I can’t tell for sure of course… I would be encouraged by the fact that it only hurts on one side now instead of on both sides. Try to focus on that. 🙂

  3. Problems with my back. Right side, lower part of muscle . It looks 2x thicker than a muscle in left side, not in all length but part of it. Bottom part of muscle is ok, little bit upper is the thick balloon, then normal again. Hurts when I bend, move or switch positions in bed, sometimes hard to dress on, sit in car, run, impossible to jump. Pain almost 3 years, the muscle looks so terrible almost 4 years. Still can lift weights in right angle without pain. No pain by touching muscle, only on movement. Tried pills, massage, physiotherapy – no results.

  4. I have a lower back pain just slightly to the right of my back. It happened as I was bending and twisting. I put a heating pad on a couple of times. Used cold hot patches. Hurts when I stand or walk. Its been 3 days. Any diagnosis?

    • Can’t really diagnose it since I’m not a doctor, but it sounds like a muscle strain. I would keep using an infrared heating pad and try to do some gentle stretches as well. It will go away on its own soon.

  5. Hi lifting my arm above my head creates intense pain my back between my shoulder blade and spine, and my hand gets tingles like it’s waking up, and it tingles all the way from fingers to spot in back. Can you help? Do I need a doc?

    • It sounds like a pinched nerve, but of course, I can’t say for sure. It wouldn’t hurt to see a doctor, or you can wait a few more days to see if it’s improving first. But there is no reason to be stressed about it.

  6. I’ve recently started weightlifting and may have pinched a nerve but I’m only numb in my outer thigh and I don’t have any back pain. I do have some tingling when I walk a lot but It’s been numb for a week already; is this actually a pinched nerve?

  7. Sitting, standing, laying down, 24/7 I have a burning, very sharp pain that is constant and intensifies every minute or so. It’s located on my left upper back. It is debilitating. I’ve had muscle spasms and this is nothing like it. I’ve taken everything to no avail. My pcp said to see a physical therapist. Not sure about that. Any input?

  8. pain from center of spine forward tward frount along rib cage from breast line to hip contant with sharp pain when moving woke up with this over a week ago any sugestions

  9. Mri shows nothing. Can’t put weight on leg.taking pain pills. Don’t help much.


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