A Common Cause of Low Back Pain
A muscle strain of the lumbar spine is one of the most common causes of low back pain. This type of strain occurs when a force is created through the lower back. We all know that strenuous activities such as lifting a heavy box or sudden rapid movements involving the spine can cause muscles in your lower back to stretch past their threshold, but other factors including overweight or improper techniques can also cause severe lumbar strains.
This musculoskeletal-type injury occurs when the muscles in your lumbar spine become inflamed due to elongated muscle fibers. As the muscles weaken, this causes the spine to become less supported and less stable, which leads to a commonly know symptom; lower back ache. Other symptoms include upper gluteus pain, muscle spasms around the lower back area, increased pain during physical activity, etc. Muscle strains can last a couple days to a couple weeks. As for your recovery time, it will depend on the severity of the strain and which muscle(s) are affected.
Staying relatively active by performing light physical activity within your pain-free range, and avoiding bed rest will considerably accelerate the healing process of a muscle strain.
If you are dealing with an acute muscle strain, or inflammatory phase, which falls within the first 1-2 weeks of the injury, cryotherapy is crucial to address the pain, inflammation and swelling. We recommend approximately 15-25 minutes of ice application in a prone (face down) position or in a supine (face up) position with your legs elevated. The ice will help reduce the amount of swelling and inflammation in the injured tissue. It also acts as a “pain modulator” by numbing the surface of the skin and decreasing the pain stimuli flowing into your brain.
As you progress towards sub-acute and chronic phases of healing, physical therapy is your best option to address the residual swelling, start building strength in the affected area(s), address any flexibility/mobility limitations, and restore healthy movement in your spine.
We always provide our patients with a detailed stretching routine as they are returning to their desired activities. Stretches such as Bilateral knee-to-chest, Prayer stretch, Cat/Camel stretch, Pelvic traction technics, and Hamstring stretch will all aid in releasing the muscles surrounding the spine and providing better overall mobility. We also prescribe a variety of strengthening exercises to help build spinal stability (aka. your inner “stability belt”). Typical fundamental core exercises include Bridges, Clams, Abdominal series, Dead bugs, Bird dogs, Wall sits, Prone supermans, and Hip extensions. All the exercises mentioned above allow the core and lower back muscles to provide stability in your spine and develop mobility, which ultimately helps restore spinal health!
For future prevention of a lumbar spine muscle strain, it is essential to incorporate a consistent and well-balanced exercise regimen that focuses on core strengthening. Good posture is also a key element for injury prevention. Our facilities offer many adjunct services to help you through your recovery. Massage Therapy, Pilates Privates, and class IV Laser Therapy are only a few of our many available cash pay services offered at Core Performance PT.
Our main focus is to educate you on the do’s and don’ts, as wall as how to manage your pain. They will also provide you with a progressive exercise routine to help you get back to your desired goals. Call us today for a free consultation with one of our spine specialists!