You’re Having Problems With Your Bowels Or Urination
If your back pain is paired with a loss of control over your bowels or urination, then it’s time to seek help immediately at a local emergency room. These symptoms point to cauda equina syndrome, where the nerves in the lower spine have become paralyzed. While rare, this syndrome can be permanently damaging to the nerves if left untreated. If you experience these symptoms, especially accompanied by numbness in the legs, then you may need surgery to decompress the nerves and preserve their overall function.
Pain In The Left Side Of The Back
There are many potential causes for pain in the left side of your back. It could be a result of muscular or bone pain, for example, or the result of an injury.
Your back is made up of many bones arranged in the spinal column your spine. This provides support for your body and allows you to stand, sit and move around.
Your back also includes muscles, ligaments and nerves. These can sometimes be affected by a strain, injury or inflammation because of the amount of wear and tear you place on your back every day.
It’s also possible to injure your back if you hurt it in a fall or playing sport.
But back pain is very common and feeling pain in one side of the back is not unusual.
Another potential cause of pain in the left side of your back is inflammation or infection of the internal organs in that area.
For example, kidney stones can cause pain in the lower back. But in these cases, you would often experience other symptoms in addition to back pain.
Here we’ll look at what might be causing back pain in the left side and some of the most common symptoms.
What Causes Lower Back Pain
Many injuries, conditions and diseases can cause lower back pain. They include:
- Strains and sprains: Back strains and sprains are the most common cause of back pain. You can injure muscles, tendons or ligaments by lifting something too heavy or not lifting safely. Some people strain their back by sneezing, coughing, twisting or bending over.
- Fractures: The bones in the spine can break during an accident, like a car crash or a fall. Certain conditions increase the risk of fractures.
- Disk problems: Disks cushion the vertebrae . Disks can bulge from their position in the spine and press on a nerve. They can also tear . With age, disks can get flatter and offer less protection .
- Structural problems: A condition called spinal stenosis happens when the spinal column is too narrow for the spinal cord. Something pinching the spinal cord can cause severe sciatic nerve pain and lower back pain. Scoliosis can lead to pain, stiffness and difficulty moving.
- Arthritis: Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis to cause lower back pain. Ankylosing spondylitis causes lower back pain, inflammation and stiffness in the spine.
- Disease:Spine tumors, infections and several types of cancer can cause back pain. Other conditions can cause back pain, too. These include kidney stones and abdominal aortic aneurysm.
- Spondylolisthesis: This condition causes the vertebrae in the spine to slip out of place. Spondylolisthesis leads to low back pain and often leg pain as well.
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Is Lower Right Back Pain Serious
Lower right back pain can vary in severity. You will probably have the best idea of your pain level and when you should see a physician.
- Not serious: Mild pain may come on fairly suddenly after exercise and responds to rest and over-the-counter pain relievers.
- Moderately serious: In some cases, an injury that at first seems minor can become worse over time. Back injuries can easily become chronic if not treated quickly.
- Serious: If your back pain interferes with your normal activities and is becoming severe, you should see a physician as soon as possible.
Your Posture Could Be Causing The Pain
The way you hold your body when walking can play a major role in your comfort level and ease of walking. While good posture can result in little to no pain or stress, bad or inefficient posture can cause lower back pain and postural stress.
What are the Symptoms of Postural Stress?
Beyond lower back pain, if youre suffering from postural stress, you may also experience:
- Aches and pains in other parts of the body, such as the neck, shoulders, and knees
- Slumped or rounded shoulders
- Looking down at a cell phone while walking4
Can Correct Posture While Walking Prevent Lower Back Pain?
Maintaining good posture while walking may help prevent pain in the lumbar spine. Study the way you hold your body when you are walking. Are you following these steps?
Stand up straight, without leaning forward or back.Pull in your stomach and rotate your hips forward with your buttocks in.Keep your eyes forward with your chin parallel to the ground.
It is also a good idea to increase strength in your hamstrings and back muscles to help maintain good posture. Stress management may also help decrease postural stress.5
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Causes Of Lower Right Back Pain With Treatments
Lower back pain, also known as lumbago, usually occurs suddenly and can range from mild to severe. Experiencing lower right back pain can be frustrating and terrifying. This pain may be mild and dull or sharp, stabbing and severe. This kind of back pain often affects only one side of the body, and the symptoms can be reduced by rest.
Most of us are affected by this pain at some point. However, women are more likely to suffer from lower back pain than men because of womens menstrual cycles. There are many possible causes of this common condition. For example, kidney problems, muscle trauma, fracture, inflammation of organs, and digestive problems can cause lower back pain.
The best way to treat the problem is by understanding what causes it. In this article, you will learn 14 common causes of lower right back pain with treatments. This information will help you relieve back pain effectively.
When To See A Specialist For Lower Back Pain
If you’re experiencing lower back pain that’s not responding to rest and self-care, it’s time to consider seeing a spine specialist.
“A spine specialist will likely perform a physical exam as well as one or more imaging scans to diagnose the root cause of your lower back pain. Depending on your diagnosis, he or she will then design a treatment plan aimed at alleviating your pain and preventing it from disrupting the everyday activities you enjoy,” says Dr. Palmer.
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What Causes Sharp Lower Left Back Pain
The spine provides our bodies with strength and stability. More importantly, the spine protects the spinal cord, nerve roots, and nearby internal organs. Most people will experience various degrees of back pain at one point or another. But sharp lower left back pain, as well as other painful symptoms, may point to a more serious condition. Understanding the precise cause of sharp lower left back pain can help board-certified spine doctors identify any underlying conditions or injuries that are responsible for mild or severe pain.
After finding the underlying conditions responsible for sharp lower left back pain, spine surgeons can begin advanced spinal care tailored to each patients individual needs. With a dedicated staff of nationally recognized spinal experts, the team at New Jersey Spine Specialists treats various conditions that cause sharp lower left back pain, helping patients across northern New Jersey reclaim a pain-free lifestyle.
Sharp Lower Left Pain From Sciatica
Sciatica, which receives its name from the sciatic nerve, can produce various levels of pain in the lumbar spine or buttocks to your legs when the sciatic nerve becomes irritated or compressed. Degenerative disc disease, pinched nerves, or a herniated disc can also lead to instances of sciatica between the backbone levels of L4 and S1. Patients typically report common symptoms like pain, numbness, tingling, weakness, slower reflexes and muscle spasms. Several other conditions can influence the progression of sciatica such as the narrowing of the spinal cord in the lower back , a disc that slipped over the vertebra below it , a tumor or infection in the spine, cauda equine syndrome, and injuries to the spine.
Your preferred spine specialist can deliver an accurate diagnosis after completing a combination of diagnostic tests on NJ-based patients. These tests include checking muscle strength and reflexes and using diagnostic imaging technologies such as X-rays, MRIs, CT Scans, and Electromyography .
After receiving an accurate diagnosis from a board-certified spine doctor at NJSS, patients living in Bloomfield, Summit, and the nearby towns can begin a personalized treatment regimen. Rather than opt for surgical intervention, our doctors can treat sciatica patients with sharp lower left back pain through a set of conservative methods such as:
- Physical activity modification
- Physical Therapy
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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.
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.
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Chronic Low Back Pain Of No Specific Origin
Low back pain is defined as pain, tightness, and stiffness between the lower end of the rib cage and the buttocks. “Chronic” means the pain has lasted for twelve weeks or longer, and “no specific origin” means the pain cannot be traced to any specific cause, incident, or injury.
Most susceptible are individuals who perform heavy physical work, especially when there is ongoing anxiety, depression, and emotional stress at the same time. The longer the stress and back pain continue, the more difficult it is to ease the symptoms and return the patient to normal functioning.
Treatment involves nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and sometimes opioid medications for pain, though both have risks when used long term. Antidepressants may also be tried, along with psychological counseling.
Corticosteroid injections for the back are effective for some patients, and fusion surgery is sometimes attempted. Lifestyle changes in the form of improved diet, exercise, and stress management are very helpful in most cases.
Top Symptoms: lower back pain, unintentional weight loss, back pain that shoots to the butt, fever, involuntary defecation
Symptoms that always occur with chronic low back pain of no specific origin: lower back pain
Symptoms that never occur with chronic low back pain of no specific origin: thigh numbness, buttocks numbness, lower back pain from an injury
Urgency: Primary care doctor
Back Pain And Internal Organs
Even though you might feel that the pain may be coming from your back, pain in your side might actually be coming from the organs in your tummy or pelvis.
The kidneys, pancreas, colon and uterus are all located in the lower part of the trunk of your body.
Pancreatitis can also cause back pain, as well as an abdominal aortic aneurysm, which is when a bulge or swelling forms in the main blood vessel that runs from your heart down to your tummy, known as the aorta.
If any of your organs are affected, theres a good chance that you will be feeling ill with other symptoms aside from the back pain. This could be a temperature, fever, nausea, shortness of breath or pain when passing pee, as well as a range of other symptoms, depending on the cause.
If you’re feeling unwell with any of these or other symptoms, you should see a doctor.
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Your Pain Extends To Other Body Parts
If you’re experiencing severe back pain that is coupled with pain in other areas such as shooting pain down your leg then you should see a doctor. This could be a sign that you have sciatica, a form of pain that affects the sciatic nerve, which runs from the lower back and through the buttocks before branching down each leg. This condition usually results from a herniated disk. A doctor will be able to offer a variety of ways that you can relieve this pain.
Low Back Pain Diagnosis
Getting diagnosed with a specific cause of low back pain is the first step to getting treatment. If you land in your doctors office hoping for back pain relief, theyll use a variety of diagnostic tools and methods, such as:
A thorough medical history including any recent injuries, other diagnoses, family history of disease, and your job, activities and other lifestyle considerations
Physical exams, which may include manipulating the painful area or reflex or other neurological tests
Electromyography, which measures muscle and nerve function
ImagingX-rays can show bone spurs and damage to bone, while CT scans and MRIs can depict damage to soft tissue like discs or ligaments
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You’ve Been In Pain For Over A Week
Most back pain will subside after a few days, but if you’ve been experiencing pain for over a week, then it’s time to call a doctor. Your doctor will perform any examinations or tests required to help get to the bottom of your pain before it could become a bigger problem. As is the case with many health conditions, prevention and addressing problems early is key.
When Should I See A Doctor If I Have Lower Back Pain
In many cases lower back pain stops on its own. But if it doesnt, here are some guidelines on when you may want to start seeking professional help:
- If the pain lasts four weeks or longer
- If the pain keeps getting worse as time goes by
- If you are experiencing other symptoms, such as fever, major weight loss or weight gain, loss of function or weakness in extremities, bladder problems, etc.
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Lower Back Pain When Lying Down
Lower back pain when lying down can be caused by a number of things. Sometimes, getting relief is as simple as switching sleeping positions or getting a mattress thats better suited to your needs.
Talk to your doctor if your back pain is accompanied by:
- pain that spreads to the legs
Can Lower Back Pain Be Related To Weather
If you feel like your lower back pain worsens on days when its cold or the weather is changing, you are not imagining things. Back pain can indeed be related to barometric pressure and outdoor temperature. Changes in pressure can sometimes cause pain in arthritic joints, including the spine. Muscles and joints in general react to the environment, which can make them stiffer and more likely to suffer an injury.
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Complementary Alternative Emerging Treatments
In some cases, doctors suggest therapies that are not considered current standard of care. They probably wont be covered by insurance, but they may be worth considering. Examples include:
. PRP treatments use a small sample of your own blood that has concentrated amounts of blood building blocks known as platelets. Your doctor then injects the PRP directly into a damaged disc. The theory is that PRP injections use your own healing system to accelerate improvement of injured tendons, ligaments, muscles, and joints.
PRP treatment has a longer track record in knee osteoarthritis, but a recent review article in the Journal of Spine Surgery suggests it may have a useful role for back pain, too. PRP needs a lot more research before it can be considered a proven technique.
In this emerging treatment, your doctor injects stem cells harvested from your hip into the intervertebral disc or discs causing your pain. Doing so may lessen pain and the degenerative effects of aging, though, like PRP, more research is needed before stem cells for lower back pain could eventually become the standard of care.
. Your doctor probably doesnt perform acupuncture , but may support you trying it as a complementary therapy. Acupuncture involves careful insertion of fine, sterile needles into specific points on your body. This may stimulate the release of your natural pain-killing chemicals.