Summary of Lumbar Strain
Lumbar strain is one of the most common forms of lower back pain, where the back muscles and ligaments have been placed under a great amount of strain and have torn the fibres in the muscles. This is often due to overstretching or lifting a great load.
Lumbar Strain FAQ's
The lumbar region is the area surrounding the lower back and base of the spine, and is made up of ligaments and muscles that run up the spine. These structures are known as soft tissues, and these can be very easily damaged by excessive strain and overuse. Often the injury will cause a muscle spasm, where the muscles tense up in the face of an injury, which in turn can escalate the problem further.
The symptoms will vary between individuals, depending on the extent of the injury. Pain is the main symptom, and this can be both localised to the site of injury or else more widespread. The pain will worsen depending on the severity of the injury: in less severe cases this will be a constant dull ache, but in more chronic scenarios the pain can be brought on by activity or prolonged periods of sitting or standing. Lying down often makes the pain go away. In this respect, the condition is subject to posture and activity, on a case by case basis.
The expanse of recovery time depends on the severity of the injury and how well you respond to the treatment. 90% of sufferers will see an improvement, if not a full recovery, within one month.
Though the body and spine make up a very robust mechanism, the lower back and its ligaments and muscles can be very easily damaged by overuse, excessive strain, and poor posture. Overstretching muscles when the ligaments are no longer elastic and active can cause lumbar strain particularly in older people. The extent of the damage is often classified with the grade system:Grade 1 – Minor tearsGrade 2 – A large proportion of the muscle fibres have been damagedGrade 3 – The muscle fibres have torn completely
This depends on whether the condition has suddenly come on by itself, or if it is a more long-term chronic problem. In the case of a sudden acute case of lumbar strain, it is often advised that you rest your back for up to 48 hours, slowly introducing exercises that will relieve pain, reduce the risk of muscle spasm and prevent the back from stiffening up. Painkillers and anti-inflammatories may also be used to relieve the main symptoms. When the body starts to recover and lay down scar tissue, after the first couple of weeks, strengthening exercises and core stability workouts will introduced to restore normal function. The prime time for tissue repair is within the first couple of weeks, and if this time is not utilised correctly for recovery the tissue repair will not be good. This will result in ongoing problems and a more chronic condition, including poor scar tissue formation and weakened muscles that have not been exercises gradually. Treatment for this will thus be more aggressive, including more vigorous exercises and massage – there is a chance this will cause discomfort but the patient must persist in order to see recovery.
The prescribed exercises must be performed regularly in order to reduce muscle spasm and pain, and ensure that the scar tissue is laid down evenly. In more severe cases, performing the exercises will stretch the muscles and increase strength in the lower back, to avoid future reoccurrence of the injury.