Lumbar strain

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Lumbar strain occurs if the back muscles and ligaments are irritated or inflamed due to overuse. It is important to note that the main part of the back is the spinal column that is held in place by several ligaments and muscles.

Usual causes of a lumbar strain

Some of the common causes of lumbar strain include the following:

  • Falls
  • Strenuous physical activity
    Lumbar strain
    Back pain is aggravated by coughing, bending or sneezing.
  • Obesity
  • Poor sitting posture
  • Repeated lifting and bending that places pressure on the back
  • Sitting for extended periods of time

Indications of a lumbar strain

  • Intense back pain
  • Stiffness
  • Pain or discomfort in the legs and buttocks
  • Back pain is aggravated by coughing, bending or sneezing

How is it diagnosed

When diagnosing the injury, the doctor will take a detailed history and perform a physical exam. Tests such as a CT scan, X-ray or MRI of the back are performed depending on the severity of the symptoms.

An MRI or CT scan might be carried out only if the pain could not be relieved with conservative treatment and the doctor suspects an underlying damage to the nerve.


  • Application of ice – an ice pack should be applied for 20-30 minutes at 2-3 times throughout the day to reduce the pain and inflammation. It is also recommended to apply one after engaging in a strenuous activity.
  • Heat application – after the initial phase of the injury, heat can be applied on the back to relieve the symptoms.
  • Medications – NSAIDs or pain medications can be given to provide relief to the pain of a lumbar strain. In some cases, muscle relaxants can be given.
  • Support – the doctor might suggest a back support especially during strenuous physical activity to provide protection to the back against further damage.
  • Physical therapy – the doctor might refer the individual to a physical therapist so that exercises for strengthening and stretching of the back muscles can be started.

More Information / Disclaimer

The information posted on this page on a lumbar strain is for learning purposes only. Learn to recognize and manage strains including in the lumbar region by taking a standard first aid course with Victoria First Aid.

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