Low back pain can often be attributed to lumbar sprains or strains, which occur when muscles, tendons and/or ligaments are stretched or torn due to abnormal or sudden movement. Although the discomfort can be similar, sprains and strains have different causes.
What causes a lumbar sprain or strain?
A strain, or pulled muscle, is the result of an over-stretched or torn muscle which causes the muscle fibers to become damaged. A sprain is the result of ligaments which have been over stretched or torn. Either way, treatment for both conditions is the same.
When the lumbar spine is sprained or strained, the surrounding muscles become inflamed. This inflammation can lead to back spasms, which can cause moderate to severe pain and difficulty moving or going about daily activities.
Often, lumbar sprains or strains can be contributed to:
- Frequent lifting
- Heavy lifting
- Sudden or jarring movements
- Sports injuries
- Sudden impacts such as automobile accidents
Symptoms of lumbar sprains or strains can include:
- The pain is usually localized in the lower back, meaning that it doesn’t radiate into the leg (as in sciatica pain)
- The lower back may be sore upon touch
- There may be accompanying muscle spasms
- The patient usually feels better when resting, and may find standing or walking difficult.
The MISI Approach to to lumbar sprains or strains
Often back muscle strains will heal on their own within a few days to a month, depending on the strain severity. If pain does not dissipate, a specialist may need to be consulted.
Typically, lumbar sprains or strains can be treated with the most conservative methods, which can include:
- Anti-inflammatory medication
- Massage Therapy
- Chiropractic therapy
- Medication therapy which can include muscle relaxants and prescription pain medication
- Short term binding, such as an ACE bandage
Dr. Bryce Benbow has either authored or reviewed and approved this content.