Low back (lumbar) strains is the most common causes of back pain. A strain refers to the stretching or tear of a muscle or tendon (tissue that connects muscles to bone). Low back strains often result from activities such as heavy lifting or falling which exert excessive physical stress on the lower back.
Low back strains often occur as a result of:
- Excessive flexion (bending forward)
- Excessive extension (bending backward)
- Sudden contraction of a muscle or tendon
- Heavy lifting or improper lifting
- Inadequate warm up before exercise
Symptoms of a low back strain include:
- Sharp back pain that may radiate to the buttocks or legs and is aggravated by movement
- Stiffness in the lower back
- Muscle cramping or spasms
- Tenderness over the affected region
An accurate diagnosis and an effective treatment plan are required for a successful outcome. Your doctor will arrive at a diagnosis and determine the cause of pain based on your medical history and the physical and neurological examination findings. Your doctor will also test your reflexes, muscle strength, and sensory perception. Diagnostic imaging tests such as X-rays may be required to confirm the diagnosis and to rule out a spinal fracture.
Low back strain is managed with non-surgical treatment without the need for spinal surgery. The non-surgical treatment options include activity modification, ice application, anti-inflammatory and pain medications, muscle relaxants, bracing, physical therapy, chiropractic, and acupuncture. To enhance the success of your treatment, your doctor may combine two or more treatment modalities.
Some of the preventive measures that can help prevent low back strain include:
- Abstinence from smoking
- Maintenance of a healthy body weight
- Regular aerobic exercise
- A healthy well balanced diet
- Regular stretching and strengthening exercises
- Proper lifting technique