What is Lumbosacral Strain?
Lumbosacral strain is a medical condition which occurs in case of any injury to the lower back muscles. The injury generally results due to quick and forceful bending or twisting of the back and is the main cause of the lumbosacral strain in most cases.
In case of lumbosacral strain, usually the one or more of the paraspinal muscles which act as the support for spinal cord during movements involving back like lifting heavy objects, walking, bending, twisting etc… are injured. The lumbosacral strain can lead to a minor backache if the injury is not serious. However in case of severe lumbosacral strain, you might not be able to get up from bed. It is very common to develop sprains or strains in back during the daily activities and lumbosacral strain can be easily recovered by taking proper rest or pain treatment medication. Home remedies are also helpful for lumbosacral strain.
Doctor usually tries to identify the cause in case of severe pain by performing complete physical examination and using imaging techniques. This helps in determining any fractures of or any other serious spine disorders which may need special treatment. In absence of any serious injury, painkillers with proper rest and home care are sufficient for treatment for lumbosacral strain. Surgery is only necessary when tendons which surround the muscles are completely torn. It is necessary to follow the instructions of the doctor and take preventive measures to ensure proper recovery from lumbosacral strain.
Causes of Lumbosacral Strain
Lumbosacral strain is caused due to injury in the muscles of sacral or lumbar areas located around upper buttocks or lower back. The injury is usually a result of a forceful movement and affects the particular portion where tendon and muscles meet known as musculotendinous unit. Thus it is tricky to differentiate between ligament and muscular injury.
Lumbosacral strain is mostly caused when lower back is put under severe pressure. Normally people do not bend their knees and instead bend their back while lifting heavy objects which is one of the causes of lumbosacral strain. An unwanted or sudden movement can also pull the muscles beyond their comfort zone and cause lumbosacral strain. Regular undue stress on muscles can also lead to this situation. Thus people who are related to activities like weight lifting or lifting heavy objects or something which involve bending and lifting regularly have high risk of developing lumbosacral strain.
Any type of feeling of ache in the back which feels like radiating upwards and also downwards to the buttocks is the symptom of lumbosacral strain. Sometimes the pain caused due to lumbosacral strain is so minor that it is felt only during body movements involving back muscles. It is necessary to refer to a doctor if the pain is severe and constant or in case of any swelling in the back.
Mild cases of lumbosacral strain can be easily treated in home with a proper rest for many days to give your back enough time to heal from injury. The use of heat and ice packs alternatively is also effective in getting rid of the painful symptoms. The use of anti-inflammatory medicines like ibuprofen and aspirin is also helpful. Usually it takes two weeks of rest to heal the injury to the muscles after which the individual can return to routine gradually.
Signs and Symptoms Lumbosacral Strain
There are mild to severe symptoms for lumbosacral strain. Generally a pain which is centered and affects one side of the back is the indication of the lumbosacral strain. The pain usually increases in case of any stress or movement of back and rest helps in relieving the pain. It may be associated by a muscle spasm and you can feel tender areas. Sometime the injury is accompanied by a popping sound. It is recommended to take proper medical care for lumbosacral strain if:
- There are signs of weakness, tingling, numbness, or if is uncomfortable to move your arms of legs as it can be a symptoms of lumbosacral strain.
- The pain is severe and it cannot be treated with over the counter medicines.
- You feel any difference in controlling bowel or bladder movements - these can be signs of lumbosacral strain.
- There is a severe pain in the body especially in the abdomen region.
- You feel like fainting or lack of breath or dizziness.
- Your stomach does not feel right and feel like vomiting making you sick and sticky.
- There are signs of discoloration in legs or toes or if your feet feel very cold.
- You feel pain in the back and is getting serious as time passes- could be an indication of lumbosacral strain.
- There is fever.
Risk Factors for Lumbosacral Strain
There are some factors which increases you chances of getting affected by a particular medical situation. They are known as risk factors. Some of the risk factors of lumbosacral strain related to family and your body are as follows:
- If you in upper age group or older.
- If you are male.
- If someone in your family have the same problem.
- Any back injury in the past.
- Pregnancy as the weight of baby can cause stress on the back is a factor of risk for lumbosacral strain.
- Any prior compression fractures in spine could be a risk factor for lumbosacral strain.
- Any case of back injury in the past can be a factor of risk for lumbosacral strain.
- Individuals who are born with spinal problems are at a risk of developing lumbosacral strain.
There are some risk factors for lumbosacral strain that can be due to change in life style like:
- Lack of physical exercise on a regular basis can possibly be a factor of risk for lumbosacral strain.
- Any particular profession which requires lifting heavy objects, repetitive motions, long hours of sitting, constant vibrations caused by jack hammer or using heavy equipments.
- Smoking can also lead to back pain and increase chances of lumbosacral strain.
- Excessive weight is the cause of many problems and it can also increase chances of lumbosacral strain as extra weight put more stress on your back and legs as you walk or go through routine movements. However it is not verified.
- Having a bad posture can make you more prone to lumbosacral strain especially if you have a strain or minor back injury. Thus it is important to maintain Good Posture which means having ears, shoulders and hips in a straight line. The back pain may be worse and cause issues related to bones and disc.
- A feeling of mental stress is also one of the factors that can cause constant back pain as people have the tendency to tighten the back muscles when in stress.
Some specific medical treatments are also related to risk factors for lumbosacral strain. Some of them are:
- Constant state of depression might be a risk factor for lumbosacral strain.
- Taking medicines for a very long time can make your bones weak and might lead to lumbosacral strain.
- Suffering from a chronic cough due to some disease can be a risk factor for lumbosacral strain.
Tests to Diagnose Lumbosacral Strain
Doctor would perform certain tests to diagnose lumbosacral strain to obtain the following information:
- The detailed information about the lumbosacral strain and its root cause.
- The exact location of the lumbosacral strain and how long its longevity.
- Any possibility of pain radiation.
- Any particular movements that may increase of relieve the pain.
There are no laboratories tests are that required or useful in diagnosing the problems related to lumbosacral strain.
If there are no signs of improvements after the initial phase of treatment, doctor needs to look for case of disc herniation that affects nerve roots with the help of techniques like magnetic resonance image (MRI) and computed tomography (CT) scan.