A Guide To Lower Left Back Pain
Low back pain is sometimes felt only on one side of the body, either as a constant pain or as an ache that flares up for a time then subsides. Lower left back pain may be severe, sharp, and stabbing, or it may be a dull but constant ache. Some lower left back pain is alleviated or worse with movement and sensitive to pressure.
Why Is Lower Back Pain Such A Common Problem
The bottom part of your back typically has just five vertebrae fewer than your neck and mid-back. And these vertebrae do a lot of heavy lifting! Your lower back is where your spine connects to your pelvis, bearing the weight of your upper body. This area experiences a lot of movement and stress, which may lead to wear, tear and injuries.
Urinary Or Kidney Infections
A urinary infection or an infection of the left kidney may cause constant, stabbing pain that can radiate through the lower left side of the back. Symptoms such as burning, itching, or pain while urinating, chills, or a fever, indicate the presence of a possible infection. These types of symptoms warrant an examination by a doctor.
Recommended Reading: How To Get Rid Of My Lower Back Pain
What Type Of Doctor Should I See For Back Pain
This depends on your condition or symptoms. If you have no obvious injury that would explain your pain, you may want to start by seeing a . This is a specialist in physical medicine who can diagnose back pain and determine whether nonsurgical treatments such as physical therapy may help. Depending on those findings, a physiatrist may also refer you to a , doctor or other type of back specialist, , for additional discussion.
The Most Common Causes Of Lower Back Pain Are A Strain Or Sprain
Whether you notice it or not, your lumbar spine gets put to work throughout the entire day.
Amid all of this work and motion, a lower back sprain or strain can result from an acute injury, such as one experienced while falling, lifting something too heavy or playing sports. A sprain or strain can also develop over time due to repetitive movements or poor posture.
“Straining a muscle or spraining a ligament are the most common causes of lower back pain,” says Dr. Palmer. “While they can be serious, these common causes of lower back pain aren’t long-lasting taking anywhere from a few days to heal or, at most, a few months.”
Your doctor can help you determine the particular course of self-care that can help heal your lower back pain.
“The treatment for a pulled back muscle or strained back ligament is fairly simple and can include pain and anti-inflammatory medications, muscle relaxers, ice to help reduce inflammation, heat to promote healing, and avoiding strenuous activity until the pain recedes,” explains Dr. Palmer. “The best course of care will depend on the severity of your injury as well as your overall core and lower body strength.”
If your lower back pain persists despite treatment, it may be time to consider other causes of lower back pain.
You May Like: Does Acupuncture Really Work For Back Pain
Lower Left Back Pain From Internal Organs Causes And Treatments
Sometimes, dull aches or sharp pains in your lower left back can be caused by problems with organs in your abdominal area. The lower left part of your back includes the left kidney, which is located towards your back, just below the rib cage.
Part of your stomach, intestines, and colon are also located on the left side of your abdomen and, usually, if you have any digestive problems, the digestive-related pain may also to be felt on the lower left side of your back.
Women also have part of their reproductive system on the left side of their body. For example, ovarian cyst on the left ovary can also be a source of pain in women in the lower part of their back.
The Importance Of An Accurate Diagnosis
The physician will need to take a careful medical history and do a physical exam to look for certain red flags that indicate the need for an X-ray or other imaging test. In most cases, however, imaging such as X-ray, MRI , or CT scan is unnecessary.
There may also be certain clues in a patients medical history. Low back, nonradiating pain is commonly due to muscle strain and spasm. Pain that radiates into the buttock and down the leg may be due to , a condition in which a bulging disc presses on the sciatic nerve, which extends down the spinal column to its exit point in the pelvis and carries nerve fibers to the leg. This nerve compression causes pain in the lower back radiating through the buttocks and down one leg, which can go to below the knee, often combined with localized areas of numbness. In the most extreme cases, the patient experiences weakness in addition to numbness and pain, which suggests the need for quick evaluation.
A persistent shooting or tingling pain may suggest lumbar disc disease. A pain that comes and goes, reaching a peak and then quieting for a minute or two, only to reach a peak again, may suggest an altogether different cause of back pain, such as a kidney stone.
When tumor or infection are suspected, the doctor may order blood tests, including a CBC and sedimentation rate .
You May Like: How To Sleep When Having Lower Back Pain
Could Lower Back Pain Be Kidney Pain
It absolutely can. Kidneys are located on the back side of your body and kidney pain can sometimes feel like back pain. The only true way to tell the difference is to visit a doctor who can conduct a thorough examination.
Back Pain Causes and Treatments Webinar | Stephanie Van, M.D.
Chronic back pain is a persistent source of discomfort for many adults. In this webinar, our expert Stephanie Van, M.D., discusses common causes of back pain along with strategies for relief.
Other Conditions That Cause Back Pain In Older Adults
We often see a range of less serious but still painful spine conditions in seniors. Most patients with these conditions will not require surgery. Physical therapy, medication, injectable anesthetics, or a combination of treatments usually can control symptoms.
- Degenerative disc disease, which can cause whole spine pain, and lumbar arthritis, which usually causes low-back pain, commonly develop with age and are considered wear-and-tear conditions.
- Sacroiliitis is an inflammation of the joints that connect your spine and pelvis. This condition can cause pain in the low back, glutes, and upper legs.
- Ankylosing spondylitis is an inflammatory arthritis that causes patients spines to become inflexible, resulting in a continual hunched forward position and spine pain.
- We also check for adult degenerative scoliosis and kyphosis, spine-curving conditions that can result in back pain and weakness in the lower extremities.
Recommended Reading: What Could Cause Severe Lower Back Pain
Sharp Lower Left Back Pain From A Herniated Disc
A herniated disc develops when a disc protrusion ruptures or herniates through the fragile intervertebral disc wall. As a result, the viscous material from the interior of the disc can spill into the spinal canal, generating mid to severe pain from impingement on sensitive nerves. Disc herniation usually originates from gradual, age-related wear and tear referred to as disc degeneration. Common symptoms of herniated discs depend on the location in the spine and if the disc is pressing on a nerve. The most common symptoms a patient will experience include pain in the buttocks, thigh, and calf, numbness or tingling from the affected nerves, and muscle weakness affecting stability and the ability to lift or hold items.
When To Worry About Back Pain Thats Only On The Left Or Right Side
Unless you experienced an obvious cause, like a fall, you probably arent dealing with a fracture that requires special care, says spine specialist Russell DeMicco, DO. Rarely do you need to worry just because your pain is only on the left side or right side of the back.
The exceptions are:
- Age: An older adult may experience a minor injury that results in a more serious condition either because they have low bone density, or they developed arthritis that causes pain.
- Athleticism: Athletes may experience greater musculoskeletal wear and tear than the general population. Theyre often more vulnerable to fractures, herniated disks or arthritis.
You May Like: Can My Mattress Cause Upper Back 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
Arthritis Of The Spine
Arthritis of the spine the slow degeneration of the spinal joints is the most frequent cause of lower back pain. All of us experience wear and tear as we age, and it is normal for your lower back to start acting up as you get older. As the cartilage breaks down between the spinal joints, surrounding tissues may become inflamed. The inflammation and the thinning of cartilage increase friction in the joints, which may cause pain in the lower back.
Recommended Reading: Can Bv Cause Back Pain
Low Back Pain Surgery
Spine surgery is not necessary for most people who have lower back pain. If you do need it, your doctor will recommend an appropriate procedure to address your specific symptoms and medical situation. Common spine surgeries include:
. Two or more vertebrae are permanently fused together to limit excess spinal motion. Your surgeon will use a combination of bone, bonelike material, screws, plates and rods to hold the vertebrae together so they can heal into a single unit. Spinal fusion may be done to correct spinal deformities or to increase the spines stability in severe cases of spinal osteoarthritis or herniated discs.
. Laminectomy is a surgery in which your surgeon removes the back portion of one or more vertebrae to create more space for the spinal cord or other nerves. In people with severe arthritis, bone spurs within the spinal canal can grow large enough to press on the spinal cord, causing pain and limiting mobility. In a similar surgery known as laminotomy, your surgeon will remove a small piece of bone called the lamina from the back of the vertebra.
Which Lifestyle Factors Contribute To Lower Back Pain
There are three major lifestyle factors that may affect your chances of developing lower back pain:
- Multiple studies have established a link between smoking and lower back pain. Smoking raises inflammation inside the body and hinders the body from healing itself.
- Obesity is also associated with several types of chronic pain, including lower back pain. In people with high body mass index , the stress on the spine increases, contributing to even more wear and tear.
- Your level of physical activity can also play a role in your lower back health. While a sedentary lifestyle could increase your risk of developing lower back pain, so can excessive or strenuous physical activity. Check with your doctor if you are unsure about your ideal level of physical activity.
Read Also: Can Low Back Pain Radiate To The Front
Sharp Stabbing Pain In Lower Left Side Of Back
Lower back pain that is localized to one side of the body may feel like a constant ache or pain that flares up occasionally and then subsides. Pain in the lower left side of the back can be sharp, stabbing, and severe or a dull, consistent ache. In some cases, lower left side back pain stops or worsens with movement and may even change when pressure is placed on the back.
Common Causes Of Left Side Back Pain
If you have lower left side back pain, then you are amongst the millions of people who experience this every day. It is a widespread problem, but the good news is, everyone can find relief from their pain. The only question is, how? What is the best way to eliminate lower back pain? A lot of people ask themselves this question, and we explore in this article we will try to find the answers.
Several factors can cause lower back pain, but the main ones that cause problems are muscle imbalances, joint and spine weakness and lack of movement . On one side the muscles can be tight and stiff, and on the other side, they can be weak and soft. This typically will cause muscle imbalances. There are more causes of lower back chronic pain, and for those who have it, it may be quite difficult to find treatment for the relief if you do not know where to look. For those experiencing lower left side back pain, or any other areas of the lower back, these may be the issues below:
You May Like: Is Recliner Good For Back Pain
Lower Left Back Pain From Your Internal Organs
If muscle strain or an issue with your spinal structures is not identified as the cause of your symptoms, your doctor will likely then look toward your internal organs. Although it is less common, your lower left back pain may be provoked by a variety of problem with your internal organs, including:
Lower left back symptoms caused by a problem with an internal organs can vary widely based on the organ. In light of this, your recent medical history will be particularly helpful in determining which internal organ may be the source of your symptoms. In addition, x-rays, CT scans, and blood tests may be ordered to confirm that a particular internal organ is the cause of your symptoms.
I hope all of the above information will help you better communicate with your doctor, which in turn can set you on a quicker path to healing.
Muscle Strain: The Most Common Cause
Following a slip on the ice, a night of sleeping in a contorted position, or perhaps after swinging a golf club, you may feel a sharp pain in the lower left side of your back. This pain is likely from an overstretched or torn muscle, and this kind of injury is known as a muscle strain.
A muscle strain is the most common cause of lower left back pain, so your doctor will likely want to begin the diagnosis process by testing for this type of injury. She or he will ask for a comprehensive medical history, and then may perform a physical examination to check for the following:
- Localized tenderness
- A defect that signals a rupture in the muscle
- Discomfort during range of motion exercises
- Muscle weakness
While your pain may be severe, the silver lining is that lower left back pain caused by muscle strain will typically clear up in a few days .
You May Like: What Causes Severe Hip And Lower Back Pain
Why Back Pain Requires A Team Approach To Care
Whether back pain requires surgery or is manageable with conservative treatment, its important to see a spine specialist for diagnosis and care. The doctors at our Spine Center work as a team with experts in nerve, muscle, and bone conditions, as well as nurses and physical therapists who work closely with patients to manage symptoms and reduce the risk of recurrence.
Each week, our multidisciplinary team meets to discuss challenging cases and educate each other on the latest research and techniques. Together, we see a range of patients with complex medical needs. For example, if a patient with a spinal infection is taking a medication that suppresses the immune system, such as immunotherapy for cancer, we work together to find an effective treatment that is safe for their unique needs.
Herniated Or Slipped Disc
A herniated disc, also known as a slipped or ruptured disc, can cause intense pain in the lower back.
Between the bones of your spine are cushioned discs that allow the bones of your spine to rotate and bend without rubbing against one another.
Sometimes, these discs can be pushed out of place by heavy lifting, bending, or for unknown reasons. The out-of-place disc is considered herniated or slipped.
When this happens, the bulge from the disc creates pressure on the nerves of the spine which results in pain.
A herniated disc is typically caused by trauma or excessive activity.
If you live a sedentary lifestyle or are overweight, you may also be at greater risk of getting a herniated disc.
The location and type of pain you experience depends on which part of your spine has been affected.
For example, herniated discs in the low back can create pressure on the sciatic nerve, triggering sciatica.
A herniated disc may also interfere with other muscles, nerves, or ligaments, causing symptoms like:
- Pain in the area of the disc
- Pressure in the lower back
- Numbness or tingling in the back
- Numbness or tingling that happens in the legs or other areas affected by the nerve
Pain that is severe enough to limit your ability to stand or walk should be evaluated by your healthcare provider.
You May Like: How To Relieve Lower Back Stress
Mechanical Low Back Pain Without Sciatica
About 80 percent of people will experience mechanical back pain. Mechanical means that the pain comes from the spine or its supporting structures. Sometimes, people experience sciatica with their low back pain. Sciatica is a general term to describe pain that travels from the back into the leg. Most of the time, it is unclear to doctors what exactly causes the episode of low back pain. However, it is most often due to a muscle strain, or an injured tendon or ligament. A slipped or herniated disc is also a possible cause. Fortunately, in any of these cases, initial treatment is the same. Pain usually goes away within 4-6 weeks, often sooner.