CNY Orthopedic Sports Medicine, PC: Injury: Lumbar Strains

Injuries and Conditions: Back & Spine: Lumbar Strains

Overview
A lumbar strain is the result of a sudden, traumatic injury or the long-term overuse/misuse of the lumbar spine. The injury can be caused by the stretching, tearing or rupture of the muscles that support the low back. The majority of all low back pain is due to sprains and strains of the lumbar muscles.
  • A lumbar strain may take from 4-12 weeks to heal and is managed with non-surgical treatment.
  • A lumbar strain is the most common injury of the low back and is caused by improper lifting, poor posture and/or trauma.
  • The muscles in the low back give support and stability to the upright spine and when strained, severe, debilitating pain is a common symptom.
  • A lumbar strain may be misdiagnosed. An underlying injury may be present, including the possibility of a herniated disc.


  • Signs and Symptoms
  • Symptoms commonly resolve within 2 weeks.
  • Pain is diffuse over a broad area of the low back. The discomfort is usually felt in the muscular ridges along each side of the spine, but not directly on the midline.
  • Painful muscle spasms frequently are part of this injury.
  • Pain does not radiate down into the lower legs but may be perceived in the upper buttocks and thigh. This pain rarely radiates farther than the knee.
  • Normal range of motion can be limited, as well as the ability to maintain a normal upright posture.
  • Sitting, standing, walking and driving may be extremely painful and uncomfortable during the first few days after the injury.
  • Swelling, increased warmth, and tenderness of the paraspinal muscles are all suggestive of a lumbar strain


     
  • Contact the Doctor if ...
  • Any signs and symptoms are present.
  • After three (3) weeks of treatment, symptoms remain unchanged or increase in severity.
  • Unexplained symptoms appear, a significant increase in the level of pain occurs, or unexpected side effects are present from taking over the counter or prescription medications.


  • Common Causes of Injury
  • An overuse or misuse of the lumbar paraspinal muscles in the low back. These muscles are frequently strained as the result of improper lifting which places excessive stress on these muscles.
  • A forceful twisting or other unnatural motion of the lower back.
  • Overuse of a poorly conditioned or previously injured low back.
  • Participants in sports and activities like football, golf and hockey are at a higher risk for lumbar strain.


  • Expectations of Recovery
  • Patients who seek treatment for a lumbar strain and follow the recommended course of therapy, should expect a complete and full recovery within three to eight weeks.
  • With a severe strain, where actual tearing of the muscle occurred, small amounts of scar tissue may remain in the lumbar muscles after healing from the initial injury.
  • Scar tissue is less flexible than muscle and may be the site of re-injury.


     

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