Depending on its severity, treatments for a lower lumbar injury may include hot or cold packs, exercise, physical therapy and medication, reports the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. Alternative therapies include spinal manipulation, traction, biofeedback and acupuncture. Doctors only recommend surgery to relieve intense pain.
Most lumbar injuries involve strains or sprains of the muscles or ligaments of the lower back, explains About.com. They generally cause muscle spasms, pain in the upper buttocks and lower back, and pain while performing various activities. Applying a cold pack after the initial injury helps reduce pain and swelling, advises WebMD. Once swelling is gone, applying a heating pad or alternating hot and cold treatments is effective.
Prolonged bed rest is a hindrance to healing, cautions WebMD. Although people with lumbar injuries may need to modify their work routine, they should resume daily activities as soon as possible. Moderate aerobic exercise such as walking builds strength. Yoga helps to alleviate lower back pain, adds the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. Physical therapy strengthens muscles and improves flexibility and posture.
Over-the-counter medications used to treat pain after lower lumbar injuries include acetaminophen, aspirin and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. Patients should only use prescription opiates temporarily for extreme pain, as they are addictive and can lead to depression. The benefits of spinal manipulation and traction tend to be short-term. As of 2015, evidence of the effectiveness of acupuncture and biofeedback is conflicting.