Strain vs. Sprain

The lower back is the human body’s mule. It has to support the entire upper body, balance the body, and also support any weight that the upper body chooses to lift. At the same time the lower back has to be flexible enough to lean, bend and twist. The lumbar, not only has to be flexible and afford a range of movements, but has to be very strong as well. The lower back achieves this near miraculous feat thanks to muscles, tendons & ligaments working in tandem. The lumbar consists of five independent vertebrae with a healthy ecosystem of tendons, muscles which work in unison to achieve the range of motions and the support structure at the same time. And because of the load the lumbar has to bear, these five vertebrae are the largest in the column.

The modern day challenges on the lumbar vertebrae are quite severe, to say the least and the amount of pressure that is applied on the lumbar section can lead to complications over the course of the years. The impact of modern living can be adverse and may leave its effect on the soft tissue of the lower back resulting in strain and sprains. Unattended continuous damage to the lower back can finally lead to continuous pain and immobility. The most important causes for the occurence of sprains and strains are as follows:

Repetitive lifting of heavy objects
Falls
Exercising without proper warming up
Repetitive pulling and pushing activities.

The result of accidents and adverse lifestyles can lead to sprains and strains. Let us see what these two are and therefore know what the essential differences are between a strain and a sprain.

A Sprain

As far as definitions go, a sprain is an injury to a ligament. By injury, what is meant is, if the ligament is stretched beyond its natural limit, the resultant injury leads to a sprain. Now the ligaments are the crucial bonds that connect the bones, and by design they are tough and not very flexible. They yield, by design, but only so much. Stretching them unnaturally beyond their capacity will lead to a sprain. If a severe distress is performed on the ligament they tear too. A ligament tear can be very painful and will most definitely cause total immobility.

A Strain

When tendons and muscles are extended beyond their natural levels of resistance, they injure and this is a Strain. Tendons are the relatively elastic tissues that connect the muscles to the bone and the muscles along with the tendons aid in support and mobility to the spine. When a muscle is distressed, there will be a very limited range of movements and there will be pain accompanying movements. Sometimes in severe cases, the muscles may themselves get torn.

The symptoms for sprains and strains are continuous and shooting pains of varying degrees. Sensitivity to touch and swelling are also telltale signs of sprain or a strain. In addition it is common for people to experience spasms in their lower back with radiating pain down to the buttocks and the legs.

The first step is of course, a consultation at Navaladi Endospine Care where a physician will examine the symptoms and analyse your medical history. A neurological exam will also be conducted to isolate the pain areas, in order to better come to grips with the extent of the injuries. X-Rays and CT Scans will be prescribed along with Navaladi’s perfected array of nerve impulse and reaction pattern tests.

The course of treatment can span the vista of therapy and surgery, depending upon the individual intensity of the sprain or strain. For some individuals, correct posture training, along with reflexology therapy like acupressure/acupuncture, and targeted exercises can actually alleviate the problem. For more severe cases, surgical intervention may be required where ligament surgery may have to be conducted to connect the torn ligament to the bone and reattach tendons etc. These surgeries are minimally invasive and would require minimum to no hospitalisation. A strict regimen of diet and exercising are prescribed, so that the rehabilitation can be complete.

After therapy or surgery, the patient ha to understand that the road to recovery is the only way by giving time to heal. The lower back requires patience and rest and time to heal and return to normalcy. Surgery is often only the last resort as major corrections are done with therapy like icing therapy and training. The recovery process would involve a healthy weight balance and strengthening exercises along with stopping of smoking etc.