What is a lumbar strain?
A lumbar strain is an injury to the lower back. This leads to damaged tendons and muscles that can spasm and feel sore. The lumbar vertebra make up the section of the spine in your lower back.
How is lumbar strain diagnosed?
In addition to a complete medical history and physical exam, diagnosing low back pain may include the following. However, specialized tests aren't usually required.
- X-ray. A diagnostic test that produces images of internal tissues, bones, and organs onto film.
- CT scan. This is an imaging test that uses X-rays and a computer to make detailed images of the body. It shows details of the bones, muscles, fat, and organs.
- MRI. This test 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 your 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?
Treatment will depend on your symptoms, age, and general health. It will also depend on how severe the condition is.
Treatment may include:
- 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)
- Learning how to use and wear appropriate protective equipment
Medicines, such as anti-inflammatories and spinal injections, may also be used to relieve pain and inflammation.