The Queen's sprained back—how serious is her ailment and how long will she take to recover?

A medical expert has explained how serious a sprained back can be and how long the Queen's sprained back recovery may take

Queen's sprained back
(Image credit: WPA Pool / Pool / Getty Images)

The Queen is currently suffering from a sprained back and has had to miss various royal engagements because of it, but how serious is it?


The Remembrance Sunday service at the cenotaph was set to be the Queen's first public appearance since her recent hospital stay which had fans concerned

However, Buckingham Palace announced, "The Queen, having sprained her back, has decided this morning with great regret that she will not be able to attend today's Remembrance Sunday Service at the Cenotaph. Her Majesty is disappointed that she will miss the service."

Sonia Khan, a Senior Pharmacist at Medicine Direct, and Abbas Kanani, Superintendent Pharmacist at Chemist Click have explained to woman&home a little bit more about a sprained back and how long the Queen's recovery time may be.

How does a back become sprained?

Abbas says, "Back sprain happens when ligaments become overstretched and torn. Ligaments are the tough pieces of tissue that hold bones together, and so if they are torn it can cause tremendous pain and limited mobility."

He adds that although this is a common injury, locating the source of the pain can be challenging. "Back sprains usually involve a muscle and a tendon, or just one or the other. Most times the source of the pain is hard to be clearly defined, rest is best way to look after a sprained back," he says.

How serious is a back sprain? 

Sonia explained that as the Queen is 95, she may need longer to recover from this type of injury.

“As with any physical injury, back sprains can be much harder to recover from when you are an older person. Injuries take longer to heal, and our bodies are more fragile in old age, so a back sprain may require serious recuperation for elderly people," she says.

The medical expert revealed that there are ways to speed up the healing process. "Physical therapy is often recommended by doctors as it allows a professional to ascertain just how bad the sprain is and create a bespoke treatment plan for that patient. Physical therapy also helps to build muscle strength and keep the body supple during recovery,” said Sonia.

Abbas adds that recovery time, "really depends on the severity of the sprain." He continues, "Some people may find that their sprain is minor enough and they can still remain mobile, for others it can be debilitating and affect one’s daily life. 

"Lumbar sprain can often be quite debilitating, and especially for an older person such as the queen, it could be cause for concern and may mean the recovery takes longer."

Queen's sprained back

(Image credit: Max Mumby/Indigo / Contributor / Getty Images)

How long does it take to recover from a back sprain?

Abbas says that depending on the severity of the sprain, the Queen may be recovering for over a month. "Sprain symptoms usually improve in around 2 weeks, if symptoms persist after 2 weeks then further treatment may be needed. If the person is of an older age it could take up to 4 to 5 weeks," he says.

Sonia adds, “Milder sprains can often heal on their own within a week. Moderate back sprains may take a little longer, although most people will have recovered after between two and six weeks. Staying sensibly active to keep the muscles strong and aid in recovery may speed up the healing process slightly.”

This means we may not need to wait too long until the Queen is back on her feet and back to royal duties. Although a source close to Her Majesty did recently suggest that the Queen, 'will not undertake events,' such as large scale honors again.

How do you treat a back sprain?

While some may think bed rest is the best cure for this issue, Sonia says that actually, this can cause more problems.

“To avoid losing your muscle strength, you should not spend your whole recovery time lying in bed. This can increase the stiffness your muscles may be experiencing and prolong your pain. Instead, you should do your best to get a moderate amount of exercise every day to keep the muscles strong," says Sonia.

"Physical therapy may be recommended if your sprain is more severe or if you are older. This will give a professional the chance to focus on the area of injury and work with you on getting your body back in working order. The likes of ice and heat therapy, traction and massage can be used to help back sprains during physical therapy."

Sonia adds that it is likely that Her Majesty will be taking some anti-inflammatory pain medication that both fights inflammation and keeps the Queen's pain at a moderate level.

Abbas also suggests, "applying a cold flannel or applying ice to the area could help reduce inflammation, light stretching, massages and medication for pain is advisable."