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Lumbar Back Sprain and Strain

Differentiating between a lumbar (lower back) sprain and strain can be very difficult because the symptoms are almost exactly identical.  Ligaments are the strong tissues that connect muscles to bones.  When a ligament becomes torn, it can no longer hold the muscle and bone together, resulting in the condition we call a lower back sprain.  A lower back strain, in comparison, occurs when the actual muscle fibers that comprise a muscle are torn. 

The degree of severity of a strain can be classified into three groups:

  1. First Degree Muscle Strain: a muscle fiber within a muscle is partially torn or overstretched to a minor degree.  This may affect general movements of the spine making it more uncomfortable, but should not prevent any normal activity from occurring.
  2. Second Degree Muscle Strain: one or more muscles become partially torn.  This restricts normal movement and activity.  Sometimes muscle spasms arise. 
  3. Third Degree Muscle Strain: an entire muscle is completely torn, or in some cases, more than one.  Often, the area becomes swollen and discolored, and muscle spasms may also be present. 

Sprains and strains to the lumbar region of the back are very common because the lower back supports such a great amount the body's entire weight and maintains stability while we walk, run, sit, or stand.  The multitude of small muscles in our back, as well as the ligaments that connect these muscles to our bones, comprise a vast framework of muscles, ligaments, and bones that together support the spinal cord and allow for dynamic movements and flexibility.  The small size of the muscles in the lower back makes them vulnerable to injuries, which is another reason why sprains and strains are such a common occurrence. 

If you feel your normal range of movement is impaired, pain that gets worse with movement, or muscle spasms, it could be possible that a muscle has been strained.  It is important to differentiate a lower back sprain/strain from other problems with the spinal column, for they each require different treatment and an underlying, more serious condition may be present.  Pain that radiates from the lower back down to the buttocks and the legs is an indication that a condition other than a lumbar back sprain/strain exists.  This could be one of many things, such as a spinal fracture, herniated disc, or a tumor. Here at Spine and Sports Medicine, our medical professionals have a long history of experience treating all sorts of spinal conditions.  It is crucial that your lower back pain is evaluated and diagnosed by a professional so that an individualized treatment plan can be contrived.  Your medical history, lifestyle, medications, and symptoms will be taken into account, as well as any additional tests. 

If you think you are suffering from a lumbar back sprain or strain, call us now to make an immediate appointment (212 986-3888).  A serious underlying medical problem may be present and delaying treatment can cause it to worsen.  Our office is conveniently located in Midtown Manhattan, Madison Avenue and 40th Street.  Most insurance covers lower back pain treatment. 

Schedule an appointment today.

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