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Lumbar Strains and Sprains

With almost 30 years of practice under his belt specializing in the diagnosis, treatment, and documentation of injuries sustained in all types of accidents (automobile accidents, work accidents-workers compensation, slip and falls, and construction accidents), Dr. Jeff J. Mollins has treated every possible injury imaginable. Patients that have sustained a lumbosacral strain and/or sprain are treated daily in his office. It is important to understand that although strains and sprains of the lumbar spine are typically easily treatable and have a very good prognosis, these injuries can be extremely painful, often disabling and MUST be differentially diagnosed from other more serious conditions.

Lumbar (lower back) muscle strains and sprains are the most common cause of low back pain. The back is prone to this strain because of its weight bearing function and involvement in twisting, and bending. Lumbar muscle strain is caused when muscle fibers are abnormally stretched or torn. Lumbar sprain is caused when ligaments, the tough bands of tissue that holds bones together, are torn from their attachments. Both of these can result from a sudden injury or from gradual overuse.

Twisting or pulling a muscle or tendon can result in a strain. It can also be caused by a single instance of improper lifting or by overstressing the back muscles. A chronic strain usually results from overuse involving prolonged, repetitive movements of the muscles and tendons.

A sprain often results from a fall or sudden twist, or blows to the body those forces a joint out of its normal position. All of these conditions stretch one or more ligaments beyond their normal range of movement, causing injury.

The following symptoms may be associated with lumbosacral strain and/or sprain:

  1. Low back pain that may radiate into the buttocks, but does not affect the legs.
  2. Stiffness in the low back area, restricting range of motion.
  3. Inability to maintain normal posture due to stiffness and/or pain.
  4. Muscle spasms either with activity, or at rest.
  5. Pain that persists for a maximum of 10-14 days.

The proper way to diagnose strains and sprains (as with all other back injuries) starts with the doctor. Dr. Mollins takes an accurate history. Usually, understanding the precise mechanism of the injury can be vital in ascertaining a diagnosis. The next step is to perform a careful comprehensive medical (neurologic and orthopedic) examination on the patient. If diagnostic testing is required, than x-rays (or mri study if needed) are performed. It is essential to obtain a proper diagnosis for the purposes of providing the patient with a comprehensive treatment regimen so our patient can obtain wellness as expeditiously as possible. Remember (as stated above), the symptoms of lumbar strains and sprains can often mimic those of conditions that are much more dire, therefore proper diagnosis is crucial.

Treatment (once a proper diagnosis is established) for lumbar strains/sprains is to begin a course of chiropractic treatment and physical therapy. Bed rest is recommended for a short period of time, usually from 1-3 days. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medication may be prescribed if the pain is mild to moderate.

The prognosis is excellent for a complete recovery from a lumbar strain or sprain injury. In our practice, more than 90% of patients completely recover from an episode of lumbar muscle strain or sprain within one month.

Remember, if you sustain a work related injury, you can be treated at no cost (under workers compensation). If you are unable to work, you will be compensated for your lost wages until you are physically able to return to work. When (and if) you return to work, you can still receive treatment at no cost. All of this, ONLY if you are seen by a workers compensation certified doctor. Dr. Jeff J. Mollins (NYS workers compensation doctor) has been caring for injured patients in Brooklyn and the vicinity for a very long time. So if you are injured call Dr. Mollins right away at 718 802-0800.

Posted in: Blog, Injury Treatment