Suffering a muscle strain to the low back is painful, but rarely dangerous. Low back muscle strains can occur when the soft tissues in this area are stretched or torn.
A sprain, on the other hand, is when the ligaments are torn from their attachments. Differentiating one from the other can be difficult, as both injuries show similar symptoms, and functionally it really doesn't matter, and the treatment and prognosis is the same.
Chances are almost everyone will experience a low back muscle strain at some time, but if this occurs and you don't know the cause of your back pain, you should see your doctor.
There are some more serious conditions, and you should look out for the following signs:
- Loss of control of bladder or bowels
- Progressive lower extremity weakness
- Severe, constant pain
The reason this area is susceptible to so many injuries lies on the structure of the low back. The spine is supported by large muscles, called the paraspinal muscles, which are responsible for not only supporting the spinal column, but also the entire weight of the upper body.
They are therefore involved in almost all movements and activities. The combination of aging, lack of conditioning, chronic wear and tear and sudden injuries can all take their toll.