Injury of the Week: Low Back Sprain/Strain
The following article was written by Dr. Russell Caram–
Stiffness or decrease in range of motion, pain in the back that worsens with movement, pain that often peaks immediately, most often from stretched ligaments and muscle spasms. Patients quite often express an inability to get out of bed or out of the position they’re in due to the pain. However the restrictions usually let up a bit, but not without pain.
A sprain is a stretch or tear in the ligament resulting from a sudden movement that causes the back to extend to an extreme position. For example, in the rapid deceleration of a car crash, and the translational shift of the vertebrae on each other.
The lumbar sprain seems to feel as if the pain is also at times difficult to localize. It seems to be present in the back, but at other times seems to pierce thru the body. Sprains of this type also make the patient aware of their posture as well as how poor their lifting/bending techniques were prior to the sprain.
The diagnosis of lumbar sprain is not difficult, but is most often derived from the mechanism of injury as described above. At times it’s difficult to examine a patient with a severe lumbar sprain simply because the positions required for testing cannot be assumed by the patient. When there is a typical C-shaped curve of the back when viewed from the side, that curve can become reduced, straightened or reversed. The subsequent subluxations of the vertebrae, stretching of the ligaments and protective contraction of the muscles generate a tremendous amount of pain.
One of the most common reasons for seeing a chiropractor is for this exact kind of injury. Usually a set of x-rays will help confirm a diagnosis of lumbar spine sprain/strain. Lumbar spine adjustments are the best remedy for removing these subluxations of the spine while restoring nerve function and range-of-motion. Physical therapy modalities are often utilized in conjunction with care in order to help facilitate the healing process, either by reducing inflammation or calming muscle spasms. Depending on the condition, treatment and recovery times vary, ranging from 6 weeks to 6 months. Considering the involvement of the spine and nervous system, if the sprain is significant enough to cause a permanent problem, follow-up treatments may be recommended in order to help stabilize the affected area.
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