Lumbar Strain

What is a lumbar strain?

A lumbar strain is an injury to the lower back. This results in damaged tendons and muscles that can spasm and feel sore. The lumbar vertebra make up the section of the spine in your lower back.

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How is lumbar strain diagnosed?

In addition to a complete medical history and physical exam, diagnostic procedures for low back pain may include the following. However, during many initial assessments and exams, specialized tests aren’t usually recommended.

  • X-ray. A diagnostic test that produces images of internal tissues, bones, and organs onto film.
  • Computed tomography scan (also called a CT or CAT scan). This is an imaging test that uses X-rays and a computer to make detailed images of the body. A CT scan shows details of the bones, muscles, fat, and organs. A CT scan shows detailed images of bones, muscles, fat, and organs.

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  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). A diagnostic procedure that uses a combination of large magnets, radiofrequencies, and a computer to produce detailed images of organs and structures within the body.
  • Radionuclide bone scan. A nuclear imaging technique that uses a very small amount of radioactive material, which is injected into the bloodstream to be detected by a scanner. This test shows blood flow to the bone and cell activity within the bone.
  • Electromyogram (EMG). A test to evaluate nerve and muscle function.

How is lumbar strain treated?

Specific treatment for a lumbar strain will be discussed with you by your healthcare provider based on:

  • Your age, overall health, and medical history
  • Extent of the injury
  • Your tolerance for specific medicines, procedures, and therapies
  • Expectation for the course of the injury
  • Your opinion or preference

Treatment may include:

  • Rest
  • Ice packs and/or heat and compression applied to the back
  • Exercises (to strengthen the abdominal muscles)
  • Stretching and strengthening exercises (for the lower back as it heals)
  • Education regarding the use and wearing of appropriate protective equipment

Medicines, such as anti-inflammatories and spinal injections, may also be used to relieve pain and inflammation.