Left Side Low Back Pain
Many people experience muscle pain on only one side of their back. This can be due to compensating for a sore joint, like a hip or knee. For example, if one of your hip joints is weak, you may be putting strain on the opposite side of your lower back to make up for that.
However, lower back pain on your left side may also be due to:
If you do pull a lower back muscle, there are several things you can help relieve the swelling and pain.
What Can I Do
Do you deal with lower back pain? Youre not alone.
The Global Burden of Disease study named lower back pain the leading cause of disability across the globe.
Whats even more interesting is that most back pain isnt caused by serious medical conditions, like cancer or arthritis. Instead, its often brought on by stress or strain from bad posture, awkward sleeping positions, and other lifestyle habits.
Here are the best sleeping positions to try if you have lower back pain, as well as some other things you can do to get a better nights rest.
If lying flat on your back feels uncomfortable, try shifting over to your side:
Whether you use one pillow or opt for two, you should resist the urge to always sleep on the same side. Doing so many cause issues like muscle imbalance and even scoliosis.
How does this position help? Sleeping on your side alone wont make you feel better. Its using the pillow between your knees thats the trick. The pillow will keep your hips, pelvis, and spine in better alignment.
If you have a herniated disc, you may want to try sleeping on your side curled in a fetal position:
What Is Lower Back Pain
Low back pain can result from many different injuries, conditions or diseases most often, an injury to muscles or tendons in the back.
Pain can range from mild to severe. In some cases, pain can make it difficult or impossible to walk, sleep, work or do everyday activities.
Usually, lower back pain gets better with rest, pain relievers and physical therapy . Cortisone injections and hands-on treatments can relieve pain and help the healing process. Some back injuries and conditions require surgical repair.
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Lower Back Pain Causes
Nonspecific low back pain means that the pain is not due to any specific or underlying disease that can be found. It is thought that in some cases the cause may be an over-stretch of a ligament or muscle. In other cases the cause may be a minor problem with a disc between two spinal bones , or a minor problem with a small facet joint between two vertebrae. There may be other minor problems in the structures and tissues of the lower back that result in pain. However, these causes of the pain are impossible to prove by tests. Therefore, it is usually impossible for a doctor to say exactly where the pain is coming from, or exactly what is causing the pain.
To some people, not knowing the exact cause of the pain is unsettling. However, looked at another way, many people find it reassuring to know that the diagnosis is nonspecific back pain which means there is no serious problem or disease of the back or spine.
There Are Different Types Of Back Pain
Back pain can be acute or chronic . It can feel like a sudden, sharp pain or a dull, constant ache.
Acute back pain lasts from a few days to a few weeks. Its often caused by an accident, fall, or lifting something thats too heavy. Acute back pain usually gets better on its own, without any treatment. But there may be times when you need to get medical care. Find out when to call a doctor or nurse about back pain.
Chronic back pain lasts for more than 3 months. Its much less common than acute back pain. Most chronic back pain can be treated without surgery.
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Complementary And Alternative Techniques Include:
- Acupuncture is moderately effective for chronic low back pain. It involves inserting thin needles into precise points throughout the body and stimulating them , which may cause the body to release naturally occurring painkilling chemicals such as endorphins, serotonin, and acetylcholine.
- Behavioral approaches include:
- Biofeedback involves attaching electrodes to the skin and using an electromyography machine that allows people to become aware of and control their breathing, muscle tension, heart rate, and skin temperature people regulate their response to pain by using relaxation techniques
- Cognitive therapy involves using relaxation and coping techniques to ease back pain
Spinal injections include:Trigger point injections can relax knotted muscles that may contribute to back pain. An injection or series of injections of a local anesthetic and often a corticosteroid drug into the trigger point can lessen or relieve pain.
Fractures And Lower Back Pain
are often very difficult pain problems and indicate the possible presence of . In patients with severe osteoporosis, spinal fractures can occur with no early warning and no significant trauma the patient does not have to fall to fracture a vertebrae.
Patients with spinal compression fractures experience spasms and, often, very high pain levels.
In patients with low back pain where the cause is difficult to determine, especially for elderly patients with osteoporosis, a fracture in the sacrum may be the cause of the pain. A standard X-ray or bone scan may not show a sacral fracture. Imaging techniques such as CT scan or MRI can often reveal these fractures.
It is very important that patients with acute lumbar compression fractures be tested for osteoporosis. A bone density study is needed, unless the patient has no other osteoporosis risk factors and has had a very high impact fracture. Studies have shown that many patients with fractures in the U.S. are discharged from hospitals with no plans for management of their bone density problems, which then are left to worsen.
Although pain can be very intense, it is best for patients with lumbar fracture to resume activity as soon as possible. This is especially true for elderly patients, who can too easily become weakened, and develop other complications, if mobility is reduced for too long. may be needed for pain control, for as brief a period as possible.
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Is It Muscle Strain Or Sciatica
Back pain that occurs after excessive exercise or heavy lifting is frequently a strain injury. However, occasionally these activities cause disc injury and rupture or herniation. When a herniated disc irritates the sciatic nerve, it can cause back pain and, in some people, leg pain.
What is Sciatica?
Sciatica is a form of nerve pain caused by pressure on the sciatic nerve. The sciatic nerve is a large nerve that runs down through the buttocks and extends down the back of the leg. Pressing on or pinching of the sciatic nerve causes shock-like or burning low back pain. Sometimes people feel as if the pain radiates down through the buttocks and down one leg, sometimes even reaching the foot.
What Are The Warning Signs Of A Serious Problem
Very rarely back pain or pain that travels down the leg is a sign of a serious problem.
If you have any of the following symptoms, you should seek urgent medical attention:
- difficulty controlling or passing urine
- loss of control of your bowels
- numbness around your back passage or your genitals
- serious weakness in your legs so you find standing really difficult
- severe and ongoing back pain that gets worse over several weeks.
The above symptoms could potentially be linked to a rare but serious condition that needs urgent medical attention.
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Stretch And Strengthen Your Back
When you no longer have acute pain, you may be ready for gentle strengthening exercises for your stomach, back, and legs, and perhaps for some stretching exercises. Exercise may not only help decrease low back pain but also may help you recover faster, prevent reinjury to your back, and reduce the risk of disability from back pain.
Walking is the simplest and perhaps the best exercise for the low back. Your doctor or a physical therapist can recommend more specific exercises to help your back muscles get stronger. These may include a series of simple exercises called core stabilization. The muscles of your , or core, support your spine. Strengthening these muscles can improve your posture, keep your body in better balance, and decrease your chance of injury.
Will Bed Rest Help Back Pain
Doctors often recommend continuing your usual activities of daily living as soon as possible. Studies suggest that strict bedrest can often prolong or worsen low back pain. Bed rest can also lead to secondary complications such as depression, decreased muscle tone, and blood clots in the legs. You should try and keep moving while avoiding activities that noticeably aggravate or worsen back pain. By staying active, those who suffer from low back pain can gain greater flexibility and quicker recovery.
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Avoid: Superman Back Extensions
In this exercise, you begin by lying face down, simultaneously lifting your arms and legs off the ground and holding that position. Most people experience quite a bit of discomfort with this exercise, and research has shown that it creates the highest amount of stress to the joints of the low back.1
More Advanced Care Options
Surgery When other therapies fail, surgery may be considered to relieve pain caused by worsening nerve damage, serious musculoskeletal injuries, or nerve compression. Specific surgeries are selected for specific conditions/indications. However, surgery is not always successful. It may be months following surgery before the person is fully healed and there may be permanent loss of flexibility. Surgical options include:
Implanted nerve stimulators
- Spinal cord stimulation uses low-voltage electrical impulses from a small implanted device that is connected to a wire that runs along the spinal cord. The impulses are designed to block pain signals that are normally sent to the brain.
- Dorsal root ganglion stimulation also involves electrical signals sent along a wire connected to a small device that is implanted into the lower back. It specifically targets the nerve fibers that transmit pain signals. The impulses are designed to replace pain signals with a less painful numbing or tingling sensation.
- Peripheral nerve stimulation also uses a small implanted device and an electrode to generate and send electrical pulses that create a tingling sensation to provide pain relief.
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Additional Tips For Proper Posture While Sitting
Finding the neutral pelvis is indeed the best sitting position to avoid lower back pain, but there are a few other tips to keep in mind while you are sitting. They can help make sure that you hold back pain at bay for good.
- Make sure your body weight is positioned evenly across your hips.
- Do not cross your legs.
- Keep your knees even or slightly above your hips. You may need a stool to achieve this.
- Leave your feet flat on the floor.
- Do not sit in the same position for longer than a half hour at a time.
- Keep your workstation set up so that you can rest your arms and elbows on your desk or chair relaxing the shoulders.
- Sit up close to your workstation and have your work pointed up at you instead of you looking down at it.
- Dont twist or pivot in your chair at your waist. Move your entire body around with each motion.
- Before you stand up, move up to the front of the chair. Straighten your legs to stand up. Do not bend at the waist.
- For an added benefit after standing, do a quick stretch of 10 backbends.
- Use a rolled up towel or a lumbar support pillow if you cant achieve these positions on your own.
The best way to avoid back pain because of poor posture from sitting wrong would be not to sit. If your job requires you to, that could be difficult to achieve. When its out of the realm of possibility for you to avoid sitting so much, make sure that you are exercising properly to strengthen your back and move around as much as you possibly can.
Try Instead: Partial Crunches
Partial crunches are better at isolating your abdominal muscles without risking injury to the low back. Lie on your back with both knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Put your hands behind your neck, tighten your abdominal muscles and raise your shoulders off the floor, being careful not to use your arms to pull your neck off the floor. Hold, and slowly lower your shoulders back down. Repeat 15 times, or as recommended by your exercise plan. It might be helpful to have your hands placed under your low back to maintain the lumbar curve and support the pelvis.
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Rub On Medicated Creams
Skin creams, salves, ointments, or patches may help when your back feels stiff, sore, and tense. Many of these products contain ingredients such as menthol, camphor, or lidocaine that can cool, heat, or numb the affected area.
Put on creams right where you hurt. Ask someone to apply it if you have trouble reaching the spot.
âIt’s not going to be a mainstay at providing significant relief, but it can calm things down,â Ray says.
Pay Attention To Your Body Mechanics And Posture
Body mechanics are the way you use your body. Posture is the way you sit or stand.
- To prevent a return of low back pain, you will need to take extra care when you lift. When you must lift, bend your knees and flex from your hips. Don’t let your spine slump.
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Can I Prevent Lower Back Pain
You cant prevent lower back pain that results from disease or structural problems in the spine. But you can avoid injuries that cause back pain.
To reduce your risk of a back injury, you should:
- Maintain a healthy weight: Excess weight puts pressure on vertebrae and disks.
- Strengthen your abdominal muscles: Pilates and other exercise programs strengthen core muscles that support the spine.
- Lift the right way: To avoid injuries, lift with your legs . Hold heavy items close to your body. Try not to twist your torso while youre lifting.
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.
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Try Instead: Towel Hamstring Stretches
Lie on your back with one knee bent. Wrap a towel around the foot of your other leg and use it to pull the leg up. Straighten the knee as you bring that leg up. Hold for 20 seconds and repeat on the other side. Be sure to keep your back flat on the floor during this stretch.
Dont let pain stop you from moving! Talk to your chiropractor if you have any questions or concerns.
1 Callaghan JP, Gunning JL, McGill SM. The relationship between lumbar spine load and muscle activity during extensor exercises. Physical Therapy. 1998 78:8-18.
2 McGill SM. Low back disorders: evidence-based prevention and rehabilitation. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics 2007.