The lumbar/low back muscles support the upper body’s weight and are involved in moving, twisting, bending, pushing, pulling, and reaching. These repetitive actions can result in a lumbar strain, which is muscle damage or injury to the tendons or muscles of the lower back, causing spasms, soreness, and pain. A lumbar strain can be the source of severe pain symptoms; it can be debilitating and, if left untreated, can lead to chronic conditions. Injury Medical Chiropractic and Functional Medicine Clinic can relieve symptoms, realign the body, relax, rehabilitate, strengthen muscles, and restore function.
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The lumbar vertebra makes up the region of the spine in the lower back. Sudden injuries or overuse injuries can damage the tendons and muscles. Lumbar muscle strain is caused when the muscle fibers are abnormally stretched or torn. Lumbar strain can be acute/sudden or chronic/lingering. A strain that has been present for days or weeks is referred to as acute. It is considered chronic if it has persisted for over three months. It can occur at any age but is most common in individuals in their forties. Increased risk factors can include:
- Weakened back or abdominal muscles can cause
- Tight hamstrings can pull the low back muscles down.
- Excessive lower back curvature.
- Forward-tilted pelvis.
Lumbar strain can have varied signs and symptoms depending on the location, damage, and cause of injury. The damage can range from simple overstretching injuries to partial or complete tears of varying degrees. The tears cause inflammation in the surrounding area, resulting in back spasms and difficulty moving. A muscle spasm is a cramp caused by a sudden and involuntary contraction or twitch and can be one of the symptoms of a lumbar strain. Other symptoms can include:
- Muscle spasms either with activity or when resting.
- Stiffness in the low back.
- Difficulty standing or walking, with slight relief when resting.
- Trouble doing simple tasks like bending or climbing stairs.
- Low back pain can radiate into the buttocks without affecting the legs.
- The lower back may be tender and sore to the touch.
- Decreased muscle strength.
- Restricted or limited range of motion.
- Inability to maintain healthy posture because of stiffness and/or pain.
- Discomfort symptoms that persist.
- Discomfort ranges from mild aches to sharp, debilitating pain.
- Intermittent flare-ups.
There are often multiple underlying risk factors contributing to the injury or damage. A few of the most common causes:
- Unhealthy posture
- Repetitive motions
- Overusing the muscles
- Improper body mechanics
- Trauma caused by injuries
- Muscle atrophy
Depending on the severity, a doctor or health care provider could recommend chiropractic treatment and physical therapy. The chiropractor will perform an evaluation, combined with the doctor’s diagnosis, to develop a customized/personalized treatment plan. Treatment may include:
- Ice and heat therapy
- Massage to stimulate blood circulation
- Percussive muscle stimulation
- Pelvic traction
- Stretching exercises
- Exercises to do at home for long-term relief.
It is a safe option to loosen tight back muscles, relieve pain, and promote lower back healing.
Spine Injuries In Sports
Ball, Jacob R et al. “Lumbar Spine Injuries in Sports: Review of the Literature and Current Treatment Recommendations.” Sports medicine – open vol. 5,1 26. 24 Jun. 2019, doi:10.1186/s40798-019-0199-7
Domljan, Z et al. “Lumbalni strain-sindromi” [Lumbar strain syndromes]. Reumatizam vol. 38,5-6 (1991): 33-4.
Li, H et al. “Rehabilitation effect of exercise with soft tissue manipulation in patients with a lumbar muscle strain.” Nigerian journal of clinical practice vol. 20,5 (2017): 629-633. doi:10.4103/njcp.njcp_126_16
Williams, Whitney, and Noelle M Selkow. “Self-Myofascial Release of the Superficial Back Line Improves Sit-and-Reach Distance.” Journal of sport rehabilitation vol. 29,4 400-404. 18 Oct. 2019, doi:10.1123/jsr.2018-0306
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