How to treat a lumbar sprain?


Lumbar sprain is a diagnosis used to describe an injury in the lower back. The strict definition of sprain is the stretching with or without tearing of a ligament. However, it is rare for only one ligament to be injured. Thus, we will refer to a lumbar sprain as an injury to soft tissues, such as ligaments, muscles, and/or tendons.


There are many causes. Lumbar sprains can occur as a result of sudden movements during sports or work, trauma or a fall. A person is at a greater risk if there is lumbar instability, poor posture, or extreme stress on a weak lumbar spine through repetitive movements, with or without a load.

Lumbar sprain is characterized by alteration of the normal functioning of the spine. The three criteria to identify a lumbar sprain are an asymmetry or change in posture, a limitation in movement and tissue alterations.

Signs and symptoms

Sprains can produce various short- and long-term signs and symptoms that will be the focus of physiotherapy treatments. Pain is the main symptom and it is what physiotherapists try to relieve as quickly as possible. Other characteristics of a sprain may be pain in the buttock or thigh, morning stiffness, difficulty bending forward and especially difficulty getting up.

You may also notice an increase in pain following exercise, when walking or when holding a position. It should be noted that changing your position and resting on your back generally improves the symptoms. Immediately after the accident, applying ice to the painful area, resting and avoiding lifting are recommended.


Certain medications can be prescribed by your doctor: painkillers to relieve pain, anti-inflammatories and muscle relaxants. Medication can help relieve symptoms, but it is rarely enough on its own to recover and prevent recurrence. Later on in the recovery process, the application of heat could be indicated. A program of lumbar strengthening and stabilization exercises, stretching and neural mobilization should be undertaken along with manual myofascial release and joint mobilization techniques.

To get recommendations and an exercise program adapted to your condition, please consult your physiotherapist. It should be noted that lower back pain can also be caused by damage to structures other than soft tissue, such as discs, facet joints and nerves. It is important to consult a physiotherapist, who will be able to rule out the presence of damage to more problematic structures and refer you to a physician if indicated.

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