Lumbar impingement. What is it and what symptoms does it cause?

Lumbar impingement is the most common impingement, because it is in this area where we concentrate the greatest daily rotation and force.

El lumbar impingement It is the most common impingement, because it is in this area where we concentrate the greatest daily rotation and force. It is one of the most frequent causes of sick leave and its symptoms are the sudden pain in the lower back It can become so intense that it leaves the person suffering from it paralyzed.

What is a grip?

The impingement appears when an acute compression of a nerve occurs and pressure is generated by the tissue or structures that surround it such as bones, muscles, tendons and cartilage.

The clearest example is when a disc breaks or wears out, it can cause a herniation of that disc that compresses the nerve. Clamping can occur in the sciatic nerve, causing pressure on all the nerves that run through the spinal cord. This pinched nerve would be the origin of sciatica

Symptoms of a lumbar impingement

The symptoms may vary depending on how the blockage occurs. In the first place, the patient may notice a slight pain that, if it increases, can limit the functioning of muscles and extremities.

The main symptoms of an impingement are the following:

  • Paresthesia (tingling, tickling, or pricking): It is an abnormal sensation in the skin, in which we feel as if it were "running" or "pecking". This sensation is due to the compression of the nerves in the spine, specifically in the lumbar region or lower back. It is also characterized by numbness of the affected limb.
  • Muscle spasms: They may be caused by an involuntary and uncontrolled contraction of the back muscles. It is most likely due to a spinal injury, poor posture, or excessive stress on your back. In some cases, muscle spasms in the lower back can become very painful and interfere with the ability to perform daily activities.
  • Numbness or decreased sensitivity in the area: Another of the obvious symptoms that there is a lumbar impingement. Compression or pressure of the nerve in the spinal column causes a feeling of numbness or decreased sensationad in the area that is being controlled by that compressed nerve (leg, foot, toes). This sensation is very uncomfortable and sometimes painful.
  • Muscular weakness: A clear symptom of lumbar impingement is muscle weakness in the affected limb. When the nerve feels compressed or pressed it can interfere cwith the transmission of nerve signals from the brain to the muscles. In this way it causes weakness in the area of ​​the body (leg, foot, toes) that is being controlled by the compressed nerve.
  • Stiffness, or even reduced mobility: Clear symptom of lumbar impingement. They may be especially evident in the lower back and may worsen over time if not treated properly.
  • Severe pain or burning: Finally, another of the clear symptoms of lumbar impingement in which reflex pain can also occur. This pain takes place when a pain signal travels through the nervous system and causes pain in an area other than the original source of the pain.

The clearest sign of lumbar impingement is joint crunch. If the puncture originates in the dorsal area, we may feel a puncture in the back when breathing in.

Causes and risk factors

Nerves are responsible for transmitting messages to muscles, skin and other bone structures. When a nerve is clamped or blocked, it loses its transmission capacity and the nerve fiber becomes blocked. In addition, the nerve will send a signal to the brain that a problem is occurring. As the problem becomes more important, the muscle will have greater mobility problems.

Impingements are very common in the lower back, because it is in this area where more rotation and force movements are made. If the nerve is pinched for a short period of time, the injuries are usually not serious. Once the pressure is released, the nerve activity returns to normal. On the other hand, if the pressure is prolonged, pain appears that becomes chronic and permanently damages the nerve.

Among the risk factors that can increase the chances of having a pinched nerve, we highlight:

  • Carpal tunnel syndrome. Women are more prone to it, possibly because they have smaller carpal tunnels than men.
  • Bone spurs that are normally produced by osteoarthritis. These spurs cause stiffness in the spine and reduce the space through which the nerves travel, causing them to be pinched.
  • Rheumatoid arthritis, which causes inflammation that compresses the nerves, especially in the joints.
  • Thyroid: Everyone who has a thyroid is at a much higher risk of carpal tunnel syndrome.
  • Diabetes: People with this pathology have a higher risk of having nerve impingement.
  • Poor postural habits: Jobs or hobbies that require repetitive use of the hands, wrists, or shoulders increase the possibility of having a pinched nerve. For example, chain work or painting miniatures.
  • Obesity: Excessive weight gain puts pressure on the nerves.
  • The water and weight gain associated with pregnancy can cause inflammation of the nerve pathways and compress the nerves.
  • Sedentary lifestyle: Lying in bed for long periods of time also helps to cause a pinched nerve.
  • Accidents due to trauma or injury also cause low back pain due to pinching of a nerve.

Diagnosis of lumbar impingement

The diagnosis of lumbar impingement begins with an assessment of the symptoms and an examination by the specialist. This can perform different diagnostic tests such as magnetic resonance imaging or high-resolution ultrasound.

A nerve conduction study or electromyography may also be done. The purpose of the first would be to measure electrical nerve impulses and muscle function. Electromyography would allow us to evaluate the electrical activity of the muscles.

In most lumbar impingements a good chiropractic adjustment would be recommended. In very serious cases, surgical intervention may be necessary.


To prevent the possibility of pinching a nerve we can take the following measures:

  • Maintain good postural hygiene
  • Performing strength and flexibility exercises in our daily routine. Limit repetitive activities and take frequent breaks if we must do them
  • Keep a healthy weight. That is, having a BMI between 18,5 and 24,9. A measure of obesity is determined by the body mass index (BMI), which is calculated by dividing the weight in kilograms by the square of the height in meters (BMI = weight (kg)/ [height (m)]2.
  • Avoid sedentary lifestyle

Articles about lumbar impingement

Family Chiropractic Team
Family Chiropractic Team

Family Chiropractic team. Your chiropractor in Barcelona with the supervision of Damien Mestre.

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