The Difference between Lumbar Strain and Lumbar Sprain

The Difference between Lumbar Strain and Lumbar Sprain

Lumbar strain and lumbar sprain are two causes of lower back pain. A lumbar strain is caused when the muscles as overworked, overstretched or used improperly. A lumbar sprain is when the muscles and connective tissue are injured or torn from their attachments. It is difficult to tell them apart because they have similar symptoms.

The large muscles in the lower back support the spine and the weight of the body. These muscles are needed for all activity and movement. This type of injury can happen to people of all ages but is most common in people over 40 years of age.

Symptoms include:

  • pain or discomfort in the lower back and/or upper buttocks
  • muscle spasm
  • pain with activity, usually relieved by rest

 

When there is a strain or a sprain soft tissue becomes inflamed and results in pain and muscle spasms. This type of injury can be very painful and debilitating. The symptoms are severe for a few days and may not completely resolve for a few weeks or months.

There are some precipitating factors that tend to influence this type of injury. These factors include:

  • Obesity
  • Smoking
  • Poor conditioning and posture
  • Improper lifting techniques
  • lack of back support when lifting

Treatment may be handled simply with the application of heat and/or cold, over the counter medicines and rest

Treatment may be handled simply with the application of heat and/or cold, over the counter medicines and rest. Resting helps alleviate the risk of re-injury especially within the early stage of healing. Finding some relief takes time. Symptoms may last for weeks or months. Move slowly and gently. Physical Therapy, massage, and reconditioning exercises to strengthen the lower back and abdomen help as well. Chiropractic treatment is often recommended for one month.

Future injuries can be avoided by using back protection and support techniques at home and at work.

Back protection and support include:

  • wearing a back brace or back belt
  • learn proper lifting techniques
  • exercises to strengthen abdominal and back muscles

There are some warning signs to be aware of. If you don’t know the cause of your injury it should be evaluated by your doctor.

Warning signs of a serious back injury include:

  • loss of bowel/bladder control
  • progressive weakness in the lower extremities
  • pain that wakes you from sleep
  • severe and constant pain unrelieved simple treatments

Although most back pain is caused by strain or sprains, there are conditions that are more serious and require immediate attention and treatment.

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