Acute lumbar muscle strain

What is it?

  • Lumbar strain involves stretching or tearing of the spinal muscles and their attachments.  This results from muscle contraction associated with uncontrolled movement (involving bending and twisting), or direct trauma to the back (contusion).
  • This condition is the most frequent cause of low back pain.

What are the causes?

  • Minor muscle strain occurs with overuse following unaccustomed repetitive tasks.
  • Acute strains from a single act are frequently characterized by and immediate transitory pain followed by a pain-free interval, after which the patient develops stiffness, limited mobility, and muscle spasm. 

What are the symptoms?

  • The gait is slow, guarded with painful movement of the spine. 
  • The back may be flexed slightly or listing to one side.
  • Spinal movements are limited in direct proportion to the amount of spasm present.  The pain in the low back may radiate upward into the thoracic spine and down into the buttocks.
  • Forward bending causes increased discomfort
  • Lateral bending of the body away from the side of the spasm reproduces the pain, while the same movement toward the muscle spasm is less uncomfortable and may relieve the pain
  • Coughing, straining and turning on the table will aggravate the low back pain.