What Is a Lumbar Sprain?
Lumbar refers to the lower part of your back. A sprain occurs when you tear the ligaments that connect different bones together. Don’t confuse a sprain with a strain, which is more like pulling a muscle or injuring the connective tissue between a muscle and a bone.
Because there are so many connecting tissues, called ligaments, in your lower back, lumbar sprains are common. Ligaments connect your spine to your hips and legs. A stretched or torn ligament causes pain, which forces you to limit any movement that tweaks it.
As one of the causes of lower back pain, a lumbar sprain should be diagnosed as soon as possible. To ensure that you don’t have a more complicated condition or that the sprain didn’t cause any other damage, visit a highly skilled specialist like Dr. Branko Skovrlj at NU-Spine: The Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery Institute in Edison, New Jersey.
What Are the Symptoms of a Lower Back Sprain?
You may know what it feels like to sprain your ankle. It’s that distinct sharp pain that hurts even more when you put pressure on it. When you sprain a muscle in your lower back, it feels the same way, but because it’s in your back, you can’t get away from it as easily. It’s only natural to want relief from this condition. The symptoms of a lumbar sprain can be annoying or painful. They include:
- Shooting pain when you move
- Muscle spasms
- Decreased range of motion
- Difficulty walking or standing straight
Sprains can sometimes indicate a worse problem, especially if they happen repeatedly. Lumbar sprains are more likely to happen if you have:
- A herniated disc
- A lumbar deformity
- Lumbar degenerative disc disease
- A flat back
Although physical therapy and routine changes may be helpful, your New Jersey spine expert gets to the root of the problem. Then he can determine the best lower back sprain relief treatment.
How Do Lumbar Sprains Happen?
Lumbar sprains typically occur when you place too much stress on your lower back and the connective tissue around it. Since the lower back holds up the top half of your body, it has to support all sorts of movement, including connecting to your lower body for activities like walking. You can get a lumbar sprain in any number of ways. The most common include:
- Improper lifting
- Sudden twisting
- Whiplash type injuries
- Sports injuries
- Awkward movements
The common denominator is that something has pushed your lower back ligaments too far. You can’t fully prevent lower back sprains, but you can avoid some of the risk factors that increase the odds of spraining your back, such as:
- Poor posture
- Awkward gait
- Weak core muscles
- Tight hamstrings
Dr. Skovrlj helps you figure out what changes you need to make to avoid lumbar sprains. If you have a physically demanding job that puts you at risk, ask for advice. If you think you’ve already sprained your back, come in to NU-Spine for diagnosis and treatment.
Are There Other Causes for Sprains?
Lumbar sprains can be painful, even debilitating. Although rest and relaxation can help, the smart thing to do is to figure out what’s caused them. This is especially important because you may develop conditions that lead to more and more lumbar sprains or other types of a weakened back. Your New Jersey spine doctor uses imaging and other techniques to reveal if your pain involves something else, such as:
- A fracture
- Lumbar stenosis
- Lumbar disc herniation
- Lumbar radiculopathy
- Connective tissue disease
- Pelvic or abdominal conditions
The imaging tests show whether your back is weakened due to repeated sprains or if you have a nerve or structural issue that needs to be treated. Your doctor knows how to deal with your pain and its cause.
How Can I Avoid More Lumbar Sprains?
When sprains are chronic and debilitating, they most likely involve:
- A structural spine issue
- A disease
- Wear and tear due to age or overuse
Your NJ neurosurgeon is an expert with minimally invasive spine surgery. He can do many procedures while you’re still awake. Procedures that may put an end to your vulnerability to lumbar sprains include:
- Microdiscectomy. This is a procedure your doctor can do with just local anesthetic. A small tube is inserted through an incision. Tiny tools go through the tube to remove pieces of a disc if it’s bulging, slipped, herniated or otherwise causing pain.
- Revision surgery. Your spine specialist performs a revision when previous surgeries weren’t done right and are the source of your pain.
- Minimally invasive laminectomy. In this procedure, a small piece of a vertebral bone is removed to relieve pressure on your nerves. This is useful if bone spurs or ligament tightness makes you vulnerable to sprains.
- Spinal fusion. This procedure is used to combine two or more vertebrae into one, which prevents grinding, compression and pain. This procedure may be used if you’re prone to lumbar sprains due to structural problems.