Learn More About Lower Back Pain

Understanding Your Lower Back

Your "lumbar spine", or low back, is built up of five bones accumulated on top of each other with a shock-absorbing disc among each level. Your low back relies on tissues and ligaments for support. "Sprains" and "strains" are the outcome of these tissues being pulled too hard or too far, very similar to a rope that shreds when it is stretched beyond its natural capacity.

The term "sprain" means that the tough, durable ligaments that keep your bones together have been injured, while a "strain" indicates that your muscles or tendons that move your trunk have been partly torn. 

Causes Of Back Sprains & Strains

Most people encounter low back pain at some time in their lifetime, and 70% of these cases can connect their symptoms to sprain/strain injuries. Lumbar sprains and strains may occur from unexpected or forceful movements like a fall, twist, lift, push, pull, direct blow, or promptly straightening up from a seated, crouched, or curved position. Most regularly, sprains and strains are not the outcome of any single event, but rather from reoccurred overloading.

The spine can usually handle small isolated stressors pretty well, but repetitive difficulties lead to injury in much the same way that steadily bending a piece of copper wire will cause it to break. Examples of these stressors include bad postures, sedentary lifestyles, poor-fitting workstations, repetitive movements, improper lifting, or being overweight. 

Symptoms Of Sprains & Strains

Indications of a sprain/strain may begin abruptly but more ordinarily develop slowly. Symptoms may range from a dull ache to surprisingly debilitating pain that grows sharper when you move. Rest may reduce your symptoms but usually leads to stiffness.

The pain is regularly concentrated in your lower back but can reach towards your hips or thighs. Be sure to tell your doctor if your pain continues beyond your knee, or if you have a deficiency in your lower extremities or a fever.

Results Of Sprains & Strains

Sprain/strain injuries cause your natural healthy elastic tissue to be restored with less elastic "scar tissue." This method can lead to continuous pain and even arthritis. Patients who choose to forego therapy and "just deal with it" develop lasting low back pain more than 60% of the time. Exploring early and appropriate treatment like the type given in our office is critical.

Getting Over Back Pain

Depending on the severity of your injury, you may want to limit your movement for a while, particularly bending, twisting, and lifting, or movements that cause pain. Bed rest is not in your best interest. You should remain active and return to normal activities as your symptoms allow.

The short-term use of a lumbar assistance belt may be helpful. Sitting makes your back momentarily more exposed to sprains and strains from abrupt or unexpected movements. Be sure to use "micro-breaks" from your workstations for 10 seconds 20 minutes. Following acute injuries, you can use ice for 15-20 minutes per hour. Heat may be effective after several days or for more chronic sources of pain. Inquire your doctor for particular ice/heat recommendations. Some patients report partial aid and pain relief from sports creams.

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