Lumbar strain

Lumbar strain is an injury to the lower back that results in damaged tendons and muscle spasms. One of the most common causes of low back pain, lumbar strain is brought on by the stretching or tearing of the large muscles in your lower back. When this occurs, the tissues become inflamed and muscle spasms are likely to follow. This type of injury can be very painful and debilitating. Your back is vulnerable to this type of injury because it is involved in the many twisting, bending and other motions you do every day.


Symptoms of lumbar strain may include:

  • Pain – the severity of the pain depends on the severity of the injury.
  • Muscle spasms
  • Joint instability
  • Loss of strength
  • Loss of muscle function
  • Tenderness
  • Swelling
  • Stiffness
  • Decreased range of motion


Lumbar strain can result from acute injury or gradual overuse. There are many different causes of lumbar strain because of the lower back’s central location. The lower back is used constantly in everyday activities and work, making it more susceptible to injury or strain. People with weak backs, weak abdominal muscles and tight hamstrings are more likely to experience lumbar strain. Other causes include:

  • Activities – Any kind of weightlifting or excessive activity can lead to lumbar strain due to the pulling and pushing motions involved, in addition to the normal weight-bearing function of the back. Any activity that requires pushing and pulling motions can cause lumbar strain.
  • Sports – Those that require sudden twisting of the lower back, such as tennis, basketball, baseball and golf, can cause lumbar strain.
  • Poor posture – Excessive lower back curvature or forward-tilted pelvis can increase the risk for lumbar strain.
  • Accidents – Sudden and extreme impacts like car accidents or falls
  • Inadequate warm-up – Inadequately stretching your back muscles prior to exercising may cause lumbar muscle strain.


Treatments for lumbar strain include resting, icing, pain medications, anti-inflammatory drugs and physical therapy. Lumbar strain does not typically require any kind of surgery.

The multidisciplinary team of spine experts at Northwell Health Orthopaedic Institute treats lumbar strain as well as a broad range of spine conditions that can occur at any stage of life.

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