A sprain is a soft tissue injury such as an overstretching of a ligament of the lumbar spine. A strain on the other hand is a soft tissue injury such as an overstretching of a muscle in the lumbar spine. When a muscle or ligament becomes damaged we give the injury a term so that we can distinguish between the two conditions.
The causes of a sprain or strain in the lumbar spine are very similar; the soft tissues are damaged in the same way because they are both overstretching. Injury can result from direct trauma to an area, overuse and fatigue (repetitive heavy lifting and bending) or even a sudden unguarded movement. Other factors include muscle imbalance and muscle reconditioning.
Patients with a sprain or strain usually experience pain immediately or shortly after the injury. Local swelling can arise and the area can become very tender to touch. The patient is also likely to become very stiff during movements as a result of surrounding muscle spasm and lose mobility. Pain is usually felt proximal to the site of the injury; however pain is often known to refer into the thoracic spine, buttock or back of the thigh.
Early treatment and correction is important in order to prevent chronic injury and instability. Ice and rest are important during the initial stages of injury. Modalities such as TENS or interferential can be used to decrease swelling and promote healing. As the condition progresses modalities such as massage and strengthening can be implemented.
At Northern Spinal & Sports Injury Clinic, each treatment is tailored to you so it is very important to undertake a full clinical assessment and continue to monitor your progress in order to achieve the best outcomes. For more information on how our Melbourne CBD and Reservoir teams can help, please call Northern Spinal & Sports Injury Clinic 03 9470 1010.