Did you know that back pain is a common condition that affects many people? In fact, up to 80% of people will experience back pain at some point in their life. Back pain can affect a wide age range, from children up to the elderly. Lumbar strain can be one of many different causes of back pain. Lumbar strain is an injury to the lower back or lumbar spine area. The muscles and tendons can also be involved in these injuries. The tendons are what join the muscles to the bone.
Risk factors for lumbar strain include:
- Occupational posture
There are many ways that people can injure their backs like:
- Having poor lifting technique
- Participating in sports that require sudden twisting
- Lifting objects that are too heavy
- Being in a road traffic accident
- Kidney stones
- Kidney infections
- Blood clots
- Bone loss
Many people report feeling a sudden and severe lower back pain when they strain their back. They can also experience spasms in the lower back muscles, and soreness when touching the lower back. If you experience any of these symptoms and think that you’ve strained you back, you should rest, avoid lifting things, and avoid strenuous activity. For pain relief, you can apply heat or ice to the back, just be sure to put a towel or another barrier between the heat/cold source and your skin. You can also use over-the-counter pain medication to ease the pain.
You should make sure to see your physician if the pain does not improve, if your symptoms get worse, if you notice symptoms or pain in your leg(s), if you become unable to walk, if you see changes in your bowel/bladder habits, and if you experience fever or a sharp/severe abdominal pain.
Once alerting the physician of your symptoms, they will take your medical history, perform a physical exam, and send for imaging tests like MRIs, X-rays, and CT scans. Once the results of these tests come back, the physician will refer you, as appropriate, for physiotherapy (PT). PT will include a combo of pain management modalities, kinesiotape, and the application of ice/heat. PT will also include the application of manual techniques and the prescription of exercises for strength and flexibility. These will strengthen the back and reduce pain. PT will also include patient education so that the patient can learn ways to decrease the possibility of re-injury.
As with other conditions, however, prevention is sometimes a better option than treatment. So, here are 7 ways you can avoid back strain at all costs:
- Keep a good lifting technique. Bend your knees and hips while keeping your back straight when lifting things.
- Get help when lifting heavy objects. Never try to lift something too heavy for you by yourself.
- Use machines or equipment to help you where possible.
- Mind your posture. Consistent bad posture can cause back pain.
- Change your chair. Aim to get an ergonomic chair when at work. These chairs support all the curves in your spine. Also, try to get a chair with a headrest where possible.
- Incorporate movement into your daily routine.
- Strengthen your back and core muscles.
Aim to take care of your back so that it can take care of you. Stay away from lifting objects that are too heavy and try to mitigate any risk factors that may make you more prone to back strain like being overweight so that you can avoid back strain altogether.