Lumbosacral Muscle Strain

Many people experience back pain after straining their back muscles through overuse or lifting heavy objects while in awkward positions. Other people suddenly feel back pain that comes on through no reason that they can think of. In most cases, these cases are acute and go away on their own, without physical therapy or any other treatments. In other cases, the pain lingers in the lower back and may even radiate down the leg. When people experience these types of chronic symptoms, they assume that the cause of their pain is due to the discs in their spine or some other type of arthritis. But in many cases, the muscles are involved in causing symptoms of low back pain and leg pain. Let's take a look at one of the most common causes of sciatic pain - Lumbosacral Muscle Strain.

Lumbosacral Muscle Strain: Strain is placed upon the lower back when unnecessary tension of placed on its supporting muscles. The muscles of the back are designed to do the weight-bearing work of the body, but the arms and legs are designed to do much of the heavy lifting. The area of the lower back is also known as the lumbosacral region. Factors that may cause lumbosacral problems include lack of exercise, poor posture, obesity, and a sedentary lifestyle. Common causes of lumbosacral strain include lower back trauma, twisting movements on stiff muscles, and poor lifting body mechanics.

Symptoms of lumboscaral muscle strain include:
  • Stiffness in the lumbosacral region
  • A dull, aching persistent pain
  • The onset of pain after exercise or physical exertion that involves the low back


Several Muscles that move and rotate the leg, including the piriformis muscles, are located near or just above the sciatic nerve. Due to trauma, overuse, and injury, the muscles above the sciatic nerve may swell, pressing into it and causing pain and related neurologic dysfunction. Neurologic function symptoms related pressure being placed on the sciatic nerve include hypersensitivity, hot and cold sensations, tingling, numbness, weakened reflexes, and limitation in flexion and extension of the back.

When tightness and irritation of the lumbosacral muscles constricts the sciatic nerve, the resulting symptoms include a stabbing, burning pain accompanied by weakness and numbness along some of the sciatic pathway. The pain spreads through the lower back and may radiate into the buttock region. Movements that may aggravate this condition include twisting, bending, lifting, standing, and standing. In severe cases, movements of any kind may aggravate the condition. Sitting and resting may alleviate the symptoms.

The muscles have a rich blood supply and thus have a high capacity to heal themselves quickly, provided that you avoid the same movements and positions that aggravated the muscle in the first place. This condition should resolve on its own. If it doesn't, patients may require diagnostic testing, to determine the cause of the pain. A test to confirm lumbosacral muscle strain is the straight-leg-raising-test.

The straight-leg-raising-test, also known as the Straight Leg Raise, is a test to determine where the cause of a person's lower back pain originates. With this test, a person lies flat on their back, on a flat surface, such as the exam table or exam floor. One straight leg at a time is then raised off the floor between a 30 to 70 degree angle. If this maneuver causes pain, then it is assumed that the cause of pain is due to a herniated disc in the lumbar spine. If the straight leg raise causes pain in the low back and not the leg, then the pain is likely caused by a lumbosacral muscle strain.

Usually with this test, the patient lies passively while the doctor lifts it to a 30-70 degree angle, while listening to patient feedback. Findings of pain elicited by this movement indicated the probability of an underlying herniated disc. Disc herniations that affect the sciatic nerve include the bottom two discs, including L4-L5, and L5-S1.

Ruptured Disc: A ruptured disc may be the cause of sciatica pain if doctors are able to rule out lumbosacral muscle strain. Due to poor posture, and muscular de-conditioning, the entire shape of the spine may change; putting added pressures on the intervertebral discs that they were not designed to manage. Continued pressure on the lumbar discs may wear out their outer membrane, causing its gelatinous nucleus to punch through this outer wall. This rupture of the disc may occur due to years of strain, or a violent event that causes its envelope to breach.