Category: Back Pain | Author: Stefano Sinicropi
We ask a lot of our spines on a daily basis, and if some of the soft tissues that help facilitate movement becomes overstressed, injuries can occur. Injuries to ligamentous tissue in the spine are classified as lumbar strains, while injuries to the spinal muscles are classified as sprains. Each of these injuries are graded on a scale based on their severity. Below, we take a closer look at how these lumbar strains and sprains are graded and treated.
Lumbar Strain and Sprain Grades
Here’s a closer look at the grades of sprain and sprains, as well as how the injury is typically treated.
- Grade 1 Lumbar Strain Or Sprain – A Grade I sprain is considered the most mild of the three grades. This is often classified as a simple lumbar strain with limited damage to adjacent soft tissue. Overall, there is typically less than 10 percent fiber damage. This type of injury is associated with minor to mild pain, tenderness and the potential for inhibited range of motion in your lower spine. Healing time is usually 1-3 weeks by following conservative care treatments like rest, physical therapy, controlled exercise and with over the counter medications. Unless you suffer a setback, clinical intervention for these types of injuries are typically unnecessary.
- Grade 2 Lumbar Strain Or Sprain – A Grade II lumbar sprain or strain is considered a moderate injury with partial tearing of the ligament or muscle. Fiber damage is between 11% and 50% and is typically associated with symptoms like localized pain, tenderness, swelling and inhibited range of motion. We oftentimes see these types of injuries as a result of athletic activity or due to heavy or repetitive lifting. They are more severe than Grade I injuries, but they respond to the same treatment options. Conservative care treatments tend to work well for these types of injuries, but recovery may take longer. It can take anywhere from a couple weeks to a few months to really put a Grade II lumbar strain or sprain in the rearview mirror. Consulting with a spine specialist is in your best interest if you’re not noticing progress with your current treatment plan.
- Grade 3 Lumbar Strain Or Sprain – Finally, a Grade III lumbar strain or sprain is considered the most severe of the three grades. This involves a severe tear of the ligament or muscle, and it may even involve a complete tear. These injuries have between 51%-100% fiber damage, and symptoms are the most noticeable. Significant pain and discomfort in the lumbar region are the most obvious signs, as are mobility issues and changes to your gait. Grade III sprains commonly occur during athletic activity or as a result of severe trauma like in a car accident or after a fall. Recovery from Grade III sprains takes between two months to a year and may require surgery depending on the extent of the damage. Your physician will likely pursue conservative care options at the outset unless healing is unlikely without intervention.
For more information about the lumbar sprain or strain grading system or for help with your spinal condition, reach out to Dr. Sinicropi and his team today.