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What Causes Lower Back Pain On Your Left Side

What Are Muscle Imbalances

3 causes of lower back pain on left side

In simple terms, a muscle imbalance occurs when you have overdeveloped and tight muscles in one area of your body while the opposing muscles are weak and stretched out of their normal position.

These imbalances can happen anywhere in your body. They often develop as the result of the routine things you do while on the job, playing sports, or engaging in other activities you enjoy.

Over time, muscle imbalances can lead to other, more painful conditions. Things like:

  • IT band syndrome
  • Sciatica
  • frozen shoulder
  • knee pain, hip pain, and all forms of back pain

Even if youve been to a doctor for your back pain , chances are they didnt even mention muscle imbalances. So dont feel bad if youre not familiar with the term.

The good news is there are effective treatments for muscle imbalances.

This video explains how muscle imbalances affect your pain and how you can correct them.

Sensations That Might Indicate A Medical Emergency

1. Sharp pain rather than a dull ache: This could indicate a torn muscle or ligament, or a problem with an internal organ in the back or side.2. Radiating pain: This pain “moves” or shoots to the glutes or legs, which could indicate a nerve compression condition.

3. Sudden weakness in the legs: Limb weakness can be caused by compressed nerves in the spine due to conditions like sciatica or spinal stenosis. However, sudden leg weakness could also indicate a stroke.4. Incontinence: Back pain paired with inability to control the bowels or bladder might be a sign of serious nerve compression or a spine infection, such as discitis or meningitis.5. Numbness or pins and needles in the groin or glutes: This is known as saddle anesthesia and is also a sign of a serious nerve or spine condition.

If you have leg weakness, incontinence, and numbness together, you might have cauda equina syndrome, a serious illness characterized by spinal cord nerve damage. This is a medical emergency, and patients usually need surgery immediately to decompress the nerves and reduce permanent damage.

Related reading: Get help for back, neck, and leg pain caused by spinal stenosis

When To See A Provider About One

If you have pain in the left or right side of your backthat started for no particular reason, it will most often resolve on its own orwith minimal treatment, says Dr. DeMicco. Typically, we see 50% of casesresolving within two weeks and 75% resolving by six to eight weeks.

Have you been dealing with intense pain for 10 days andover-the-counter pain relievers arent cutting it? Time to call your doctor,who may recommend:

  • Stronger medicines: Prescription-strength muscle relaxants and anti-inflammatory medications could take the edge off as your body heals.
  • Manipulation: A physical therapist, chiropractor or osteopath could perform hands-on treatment that deliver relief.

If your pain extends beyond six weeks, your doctor willlikely recommend imaging, says Dr. DeMicco. An X-ray is usually the firststep to ensure there isnt a broken bone or some other obvious reason for thepain.

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Is Lower Right Left Or Back Pain A Cause For Worry

Experiencing pain on one side of your back is not necessarily more alarming than central pain. See, there are two main types of one-sided back pain – back pain that could occur on either side but just happens to be on the left or right exclusively. Most ordinary back pain tends to be more pronounced on one side. The other is back pain referred to as a small category, one that comes specifically from structures that exist only on one side.

Treatments For Back Pain From A Specialist

5 Common Causes of Left Side Back Pain

A GP, specialist or physiotherapist may recommend extra treatments if they do not think your pain will improve with self-help measures alone.

These may include:

  • group exercise classes where you’re taught exercises to strengthen your muscles and improve your posture
  • manual therapy treatments, such as manipulating the spine and massage, which are usually done by a physiotherapist, chiropractor or osteopath
  • psychological support, such as cognitive behavioural therapy , which can be a useful part of treatment if you’re struggling to cope with pain

Some people choose to see a therapist for manual therapy without seeing a GP first. If you want to do this, you’ll usually need to pay for private treatment.

Surgery is generally only considered in the small number of cases where back pain is caused by a specific medical condition.

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How To Treat Lower Back Pain On The Left Side

If your problem doesnt require hospital treatment, home treatments are usually enough to address the problem. Time, rest, and pain relievers should do the trick. Self-care treatments include ice and hot packs, topical pain-relieving lotion or cream, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, and limiting activities that can cause or aggravate your pain.

If your condition requires medical treatment, your potential pain relief solutions include physical therapy, muscle relaxants, nerve blocks, and anticonvulsant medication for certain nerve issues. A lumbar spine steroid injection can provide you temporary relief from bothersome pain. Stronger pain medications include hydrocodone which will certainly come in handy when ibuprofen cant handle your chronic pain. Now do take note that these drugs can be habit-forming, so always stick to your doctors instructions when taking them.

If you have kidney problems, you may need antibiotics or treatment to break up or remove kidney stones. If your condition is that severe, surgery may be the only option for you.

Common Causes Of Back Pain Under The Ribs

Rib and spine pain that affects the lower, middle or upper back is very common among the general population and can affect men and women. According to a report published in the journal Annals of Rheumatic Diseases, back pain is one of the major sources of pain that people suffer.3

The Journal of Manual & Manipulative Therapy reported on some of the most common causes of aching pains and discomfort in your upper or middle back. Some of these include:4

  • Pulling, straining or tearing a muscle. Lifting heavy items, overreaching, or being out of shape can cause damage to your intercostal muscles or back muscles.
  • Herniated disc. Damage to your spine could cause a disc to rupture and press on a nerve. This can send shooting or burning pains around your ribs or cause lower back pain.
  • Degenerative diseases. Chronic conditions like osteoarthritis or joint wear and tear can cause pain in your back under the ribs.
  • Rib injury. Any kind of trauma to your upper body that affects your rib cage, spine, muscles, or ligaments can cause mild to severe back pain. If the blunt trauma damages an internal organ, then this could also be a source of deep aches in your back under your ribs.
  • Being overweight. Carrying around excess weight puts strain on your lower and middle back which can injure muscles and ligaments in your back. If you are overweight, you are also at greater risk of herniating a disc.

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Lower Back Pain Treatment

Most low back pain is acute, and is resolved within 4-12 weeks with self-care. If self-care does not resolve the pain, other non-surgical methods could help. There is a wide variety of non-surgical treatments to improve low back pain, which focus on reducing inflammation in the back or calming irritation in the nerve roots. These include:

Upper Left Back Pain Causes And Treatment

Back Pain Lower Left Side – Video 3 of 3

For anyone who has ever experienced upper left back pain, they understand how annoying and irritating it can be.

Lets be honest, dealing with body pain of any kind is never pleasant. It can be disconcerting when we experience, spontaneous or unexplained aches and pain in the body, especially in an area like the back.

There are a number of reasons, though, that people might experience discomfort or pain in the upper left back.

Its important to note that some types of back pain can be organ-related, but these will usually appear down lower. These may be issues like pancreatitis, kidney stones or intestinal inflammation.

A thorough examination by your physician or a chiropractic back specialist can help determine if these might be the cause of your back pain.

Many people wonder, When should I go to the ER for upper back pain? If youre experiencing chest pain that radiates or spreads to areas like the jaw and neck, or you start to feel upper back pain in association with these symptoms, call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room as it may be a sign of an ongoing heart attack.

Of course, something more obvious like an injury caused by a fall, a collision of some sort, or a strain during athletic or work activity can be the reason for experiencing one-sided back pain.

Continued stress on the soft-tissue in the back can also lead to back pain on the right or left side as well.

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Can Back Pain Be Prevented

Recurring back pain resulting from improper body mechanics may be prevented by avoiding movements that jolt or strain the back, maintaining correct posture, and lifting objects properly. Many work-related injuries are caused or aggravated by stressors such as heavy lifting, contact stress , vibration, repetitive motion, and awkward posture.Recommendations for keeping ones back healthy

Warm Or Cold Compress

Applying a warm or cold compress to your sore ribs can help to reduce inflammation and get rid of the pain. Using heat or cold can help to treat muscle strains and tears and soothe nerve pain.

When should you use heat or cold for a rib injury that affects your muscles or nerves? Doctors from Johns Hopkins Medical center answer the question as follows:19

  • Cold treatment for rib pain. In the first 48 hours after the initial injury, use cold compresses to reduce swelling and prevent blood flow causing bruising.
  • Heat treatment for muscle pain in the back. After the initial swelling has gone down, you should switch to heat compresses to get rid of back pain. The heat increases blood circulation and promotes healing.

How to make a compress for sore rib pain relief:

You can use an old clean sock and rice to make an effective cold or hot compress. This is what you should do:

  • Fill an old sock 3/4 full with rice and tie at the top.
  • For a cold compress place the rice-filled sock in the freezer for a few hours.
  • To make a warm compress put the rice sock in a microwave and heat on full power for 1-2 minutes.
  • In the first 2 days after an injury, place the cold pack on the sore ribs or back for 15-20 minutes at a time. After this time, place the sock back in the freezer. Use every hour or so to reduce pain and swelling in an injured rib.

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    Issues With The Left Lung

    Infections or inflammation that affect your left lung will also cause pain under your left ribs in your back. Pneumonia, pleurisy, or a collapsed lung can cause sharp, intensely jabbing pains in your back.

    There are many natural ways to cleanse your lungs and help prevent acute or chronic lung infections developing.

    When To See A Healthcare Provider

    3 causes of lower back pain on left side

    If the pain keeps you up at night, lasts longer than a week or if this is a recurrence rather than a first time experience of the symptoms, it’s best to consult with your healthcare provider. The same is true if youve had an injury or cancer.

    Note that these are just a few of the signs that your back needs medical attention there are a number of others, as well.

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    General Health And Lifestyle Issues

    If youre a woman, lower left back pain may be a symptom of a gynecological disorder.

    And, if youre overweight , this could be the culprit behind any pain you have in the left side of your lower back.

    Generally speaking, weight loss and a healthy diet and lifestyle can significantly reduce lower back pain.

    What Are The Risk Factors For Developing Low Back Pain

    Anyone can have back pain. Factors that can increase the risk for low back pain include:

    Age: The first attack of low back pain typically occurs between the ages of 30 and 50, and back pain becomes more common with advancing age. Loss of bone strength from osteoporosis can lead to fractures, and at the same time, muscle elasticity and tone decrease. The intervertebral discs begin to lose fluid and flexibility with age, which decreases their ability to cushion the vertebrae. The risk of spinal stenosis also increases with age.

    Fitness level: Back pain is more common among people who are not physically fit. Weak back and abdominal muscles may not properly support the spine. Weekend warriorspeople who go out and exercise a lot after being inactive all weekare more likely to suffer painful back injuries than people who make moderate physical activity a daily habit. Studies show that low-impact aerobic exercise can help maintain the integrity of intervertebral discs.

    Weight gain: Being overweight, obese, or quickly gaining significant amounts of weight can put stress on the back and lead to low back pain.

    Genetics: Some causes of back pain, such as ankylosing spondylitis , have a genetic component.

    Smoking: It can restrict blood flow and oxygen to the discs, causing them to degenerate faster.

    Backpack overload in children: A backpack overloaded with schoolbooks and supplies can strain the back and cause muscle fatigue.

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    Lower Right Back Pain Symptoms

    The back provides both strength and stability to the entire body, leaving it vulnerable to many kinds of injury. It’s possible for even severe back pain to be confined to just one side of the back. When the pain is entirely on the lower right side, it may suggest a specific type of injury or illness, and it’s important to have it examined. Low back pain is also called lumbago or sciatica.

    Problems Related To The Urinary System

    Back Pain Lower Left Side – Video 1 of 3

    Severe pain in the left side of your back, radiating to the lower abdominal area, may indicate kidney stones or an infection in the urinary tract. A kidney stone develops when extra crystal forming material enters your urine. When big stones try to pass through your urinary tract, they get stuck and cause pain. Sometimes, they also cause nausea and blood in the urine. Similar kind of pain is also caused due to a urinary tract infection. A urine infection that involves your kidney is termed as pyelonephritis. a UTI is accompanied by back and abdominal pain mainly concentrated on one side of your body. UTIs also include other symptoms such as: fever, lethargy and burning during urination.

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    Who Should I See For Lower Back Pain

    Your primary care physician knows you best and should be your first contact for lower back pain. If he or she is unable to diagnose or treat the issue, you may get referred to a specialist, such as a rehabilitation physician . These specialists practice a comprehensive approach to lower back pain, and can diagnose and treat a variety of conditions that have lower back pain as a symptom.

    Later, you may get referred to a physical therapist, a chiropractor or another practitioner depending on the nature of your back pain. The good news is that surgery is rarely needed for lower back pain. Only about one in ten patients needs lower back surgery, Chhatre says.

    Low Back Pain Symptoms And Signs

    Pain in the lumbosacral area is the primary symptom of low back pain.

    • The pain may radiate down the front, side, or back of your leg, or it may be confined to the low back.
    • The pain may become worse with activity.
    • Occasionally, the pain may be worse at night or with prolonged sitting such as on a long car trip.
    • You may have numbness or weakness in the part of the leg that receives its nerve supply from a compressed nerve.
    • This can cause an inability to plantar flex the foot. This means you would be unable to stand on your toes or bring your foot downward. This occurs when the first sacral nerve is compressed or injured.
    • Another example would be the inability to raise your big toe upward. This results when the fifth lumbar nerve is compromised.

    Types Of Lower Back Pain

    When considering your lower back pain, think about whether you feel it across your lower back like a band, or whether you feel the pain more intensely on one side versus the other, says Gharibo. If its band-like, its more likely to relate to a disc in your spinal cord.

    Having more pain on the left or right side typically signals a muscle sprain or strain, or an issue with a one-sided structure like the hip joint or sacroiliac joint , Dr. Gharibo explains. However, these issues can affect all areas of the back, from the middle to the sides, so its theres no easy diagnosis.

    Lower back pain can be acute, lasting a few days to a few weeks, or chronic, which means it lasts longer than 12 weeks, according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.

    Inflammation causes low back pain, and it tends to be intermittent at first, Dr. Gharibo explains. For example, you might feel your lower back ache in the mornings initially, and then it becomes more significant and sometimes seasonal, showing up more often during cold or damp weather. Eventually, this pain can become consistent. You want to address the pain before it becomes consistent.


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