How Do I Treat a Lumbar Sprain?

Madeleine A.

One of the most important treatments for a lumbar sprain is resting the back. Resting can help alleviate painful muscle spasms and ease inflammation. Although resting the lumbar sprain should take place during the first few hours of the sprain, bed rest should not be prolonged. After a couple days, the muscles and other surrounding structures of the lumbar area may weaken, so it is important that the muscles be mildly exercised. In addition, applying ice to a lumbar sprain may also help alleviate pain and reduce inflammation.

A lumbar sprain can cause intense lower back pain.
A lumbar sprain can cause intense lower back pain.

A lumbar sprain may be caused by heavy lifting or by suddenly turning the body in such a manner that the ligaments become overstretched and injured. Another important treatment for a lumbar sprain is taking anti-inflammatory medications. Not only do these medications help relieve pain, they also help manage the inflammation caused by the sprain. For people who cannot tolerate the effects of anti-inflammatory medications, pain relievers containing acetaminophen may help control pain, but will not help control inflammation.

A heating pad can help reduce the pain caused by a lumbar sprain.
A heating pad can help reduce the pain caused by a lumbar sprain.

Although there are many steps a patient can take to treat a lumbar sprain, the injury needs to be evaluated by a health care professional. Diagnostic tests may needed to determine the extent of the sprain and to determine if surrounding structures have been damaged. In addition, the health care provider may also recommend physical therapy services. Rehabilitative services, such as physical and occupational therapy, can help to restore mobility and speed the healing of the lumbar sprain.

In some cases, the use of a heating pad or hot compresses can help reduce pain and soothe muscle spasms. Heat should not be applied to the injury, however, until at least 48 hours has passed since the onset of the injury, or until inflammation has subsided. Applying heat too soon after the lumbar sprain may exacerbate pain and increase inflammation. If a heating pad is used, it should remain on a low to medium setting to avoid burns and it should always be turned off when going to sleep.

The pain of some lumbar sprains can be resistant to certain treatments, including anti-inflammatory medications, ice or heat applications, rest, and physical therapy. In these instances, the health care provider may refer the patient to a pain clinic where methods of pain relief such as epidural anesthesia can be employed to reduce pain so that the patient can resume his daily activities comfortably.

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