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Low Back Pain - Symptoms, Causes, Treatments & More

This page has been medically reviewed by David Gershkovich PT, DPT, Founder & Clinical Director at Riser Physical Medicine in New York City.

Low Back Pain

In 70% of cases of low back pain, lumbar strains and sprains turn out to be the culprit. Most common in people between ages 20 and 50, strain and sprain injuries in the lumbar region can cause significant pain and render people unable to lift heavy objects without struggle.

What is a lumbar strain or sprain?

Lumbar strains and sprains are some of the leading causes of low back pain. The lumbar region, more commonly known as the low back, is the area of the back that starts below the ribcage.

Sometimes, the connective tissue can become injured, causing a lumbar sprain. The same thing can happen to the lumbar muscles, which causes a lumbar strain instead.

These injuries can cause significant pain, and because of the huge role our low back muscles play in daily life, patients may not be able to partake in physical activity for quite some time.

Most normal cases of lumbar strain/sprain injuries heal within a month but can take up to 3 months before completely recovering.


The most common symptom of lumbar strains and sprains is pain in the lower back, especially when lifting objects or performing motions (such as bending and stretching) involving the abdomen.


  • Back pain, soreness, weakness, and stiffness

  • Difficulty or inability to lift heavy objects

  • Pain in the buttocks and the legs (often in the back of the thigh)

  • Pain that may intensify when bending, stretching, coughing, or sneezing

The above symptoms are common for anyone suffering from lumbar strains or sprains. If, however, you experience leg numbness or weakness or even bowel or bladder problems, it’s possible that you have nerve damage, at which point you must visit your doctor for immediate medical attention.


To diagnose a Low back strain/sprain, patients may have to undergo a physical therapy evaluation, MD diagnosis, or a movement screen.

We recommend getting started by contacting your physician, who can help determine the best course of action.

At Riser Physical Medicine in NYC, for weight lifters, we do a comprehensive analysis of lifting mechanics to determine which parts of the lift may be faulty and therefor causing pain.


The leading cause of lumbar strains & sprains is extreme physical exertion, which involves performing actions way beyond what one’s body can handle. Because of this, avid athletes such as cyclists, hikers, bikers, dancers, and weightlifters are all known to suffer from this type of injury.

People who perform repetitive bending and crouching, such as manual laborers, gardeners, and new moms are also susceptible to lumbar strain/sprain injuries.


  • Extreme physical exertion

  • Falling

  • Bending or crouching repeatedly

  • Lifting objects that are too heavy for your body to handle

  • Lifting with improper form or without properly warming up

Lumbar strain/sprain injuries can also occur due to emotional stress, improper posture, or a sedentary lifestyle that involves being overweight, out of shape, or sitting in the same position for long periods of time.

Without the proper strength conditioning, even something as simple as a severe cough can result in a strain/sprain injury.


To alleviate pain and accelerate recovery from low back pain caused by lumbar strains & sprains, patients may undergo the following treatments:

  • Physical Therapy

  • Acupuncture

  • Pilates

  • Chiropractic Care

  • Soft Tissue Mobilization

  • Joint Mobilization

  • Therapeutic Exercise

  • Low Back Strengthening Exercises

  • Low Back Stabilization Exercises

  • Myofascial Release

  • Low Back Realignment Techniques

Depending on the severity of your condition, you may receive treatment from one of many medical experts.

At our clinic, our team of physical therapists, chiropractors, acupuncturists, and more with over 10 years of experience can help find the right treatment for you.

Choose Riser Physical in NYC

At Riser, we’re committed to helping you achieve a healthier, happier, pain-free, and more active You.

Our team at Riser Physical specializes in treating musculoskeletal issues. At Riser, we will help you understand your condition and create a treatment plan that’s right for your needs.

At Riser we provide rehab and therapy options for patients looking for a non-surgical, conservative treatment for their joint pain or muscle condition.

We have an amazing team of licensed and experienced physical therapists, chiropractors, pilates experts, and acupuncturists who can help you get started on improving your quality of life.

If you work with us, you can expect an integrative treatment that is not only evidence-based, but also individually tailored. We give special attention to each and every one of our patients and try to make each session better than the last.

Book an appointment

We offer treatment for lumbar strains & sprains at our offices in New York City.

If you’d like to get in touch with us for an appointment, you can call us at 646-661-2181, email us at, or click the button below to book an appointment.

Lumbar Strain & Sprain FAQs

Is it okay to lift heavy objects while recovering from a lumbar strain/sprain?

We generally recommend against lifting heavy objects while you recover from a lumbar strain/sprain, but it’s best to consult your doctor since every individual is unique.

How long does a lumbar strain/sprain last?

Lumbar strain/sprain injuries often heal completely in 2 weeks, especially with proper rest. Sometimes, however, strains/sprains can last up to several months. In those cases, additional treatment may be required.

How do you prevent lumbar strains and sprains?

To prevent lumbar strains and sprains, it’s important to perform regular back strength and conditioning exercises. A weak low back can tear much easier than a strong one. Training the low back muscles at least once a week is enough for most people, but it’s best to consult a physical therapist for advice on how to proceed.

Do deadlifts help prevent lumbar strains and sprains?

In general, exercises that strengthen and condition the low back muscles will help prevent strains and sprains, the deadlift being one of these exercises. The most important thing, besides consistency, is proper form to prevent injury.

Can you fully recover from lumbar strains and sprains?

Yes. Most people recover from lumbar strains and sprains between 2 to 4 weeks. If your lumbar strain/sprain lasts longer than that time, visit a physical therapist immediately to see if there are any underlying issues.


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