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Lower Left Back Pain

By Editorial Team (2)
February 14, 2022

What is lower back pain on the left side?

Low back pain on the left side is discomfort in the lower portion of the back. It can be related to problems with the lumbar spine, the intervertebral discs that are located between the vertebrae, the spinal cord or nerves, the muscles or ligaments of the spine, the internal organs of the abdomen or pelvis, or it can be related to problems with the skin that covers the low back. Low back pain is a very common problem. More than half of all people will experience at least one episode of severe pain in their back at some time during their life. Lower back pain on the left side occurs more frequently than pain in the right lower back.

Lower back pain can cause plenty of discomforts and can disrupt your daily activities inhibiting you to be able to do functions as you would on a regular basis without it. Back pain can be experienced at any age, from adults to children.

What type of pain is experienced?

Lower back pain on the left side can have symptoms that vary. Sometimes the symptoms of the pain may feel like a dull, aching pain. Other times the pain may travel or radiate down the hip and into the back of the thigh and lower leg. Some people notice numbness or a tingling sensation in their leg while other people describe a sense of burning. Lower back pain on the left side can also be a severe, sharp stabbing pain in the left region of the lumbar area.

What is the reason for lower back pain on the left side?

In many cases of lower back pain on the left side, the patient may have experienced some mild to severe muscle strain. In many cases with a muscle strain, the pain is not as extreme as some other factors which will be discussed a bit later in this article.

Muscle pain in the lower back can be caused by:

  • Torn or overstretched muscles
  • Excessive sports activity
  • Excessive stretching and twisting
  • Moving a heavy item
  • A fall
Factors like a disease, smoking, excess smoking, lack of smoking and age (30-40) can contribute to the back pain experienced.
Muscle pain in the lower back in the left region can typically last from 3 to 4 days and isn’t a cause for serious concern.
A more severe case of lower back pain is issues related to your internal organs. These may include the following:
  • Kidney infection
  • Kidney stones
  • Gynecological infection
  • Pancreatitis

Kidney infection

If the pain related is due to the kidneys, the patient may experience painful urination, a fever, nausea, and vomiting. Kidney pain can cause lower back pain on the left side, right side as well as both sides of the lower back.
Persons at higher risk of a Kidney infection include:
  • Females
  • Blockage of the urinary tract
  • Nerve damage around the bladder
  • Prolonged use of a urinary catheter
  • A condition that causes the urine to flow the wrong way

Kidney stones

Kidney stones can cause severe abdominal pain and pain usually occurs once the stone starts traveling from the ureter to the bladder. It can cause severe pain in the lower back and pain in the region under the ribs. The patient may experience fewer amounts of urination, a different smell of red or brown urine, or urinating more frequently.  There are 4 major types of kidney stones namely Calcium stones, Uric Acid stones, Cysteine Stones and Struvite Stones.
Risk factors for kidney stones can be due to the following:
  • Obesity
  • Dehydration
  • Family history  with the condition
  • Digestive diseases and surgery

Gynecological infection

Gynecological infections or vaginal infections are caused by yeast infections and can cause severe itching and irritation of the vulva. 
Gynecological infections risks are higher due to the following:
  • The use of antibiotics
  • Sexual activity
  • Impaired immune system
  • Uncontrolled diabetes


Pancreatitis is caused by the activation of digestive enzymes within the pancreas which causes irritation and inflammation of the cells. Risks of pancreatitis may include the following: 
  • Gall stones
  • Cystic fibrosis
  • Excessive cigarette smoking
  • Family history of the condition
  • Injury to abdomen
  • Excessive alcohol use
  • Pancreatic cancer
  • Infection of the pancreas
What is lumbago
Spinal disorders may also cause lower back pain such as:
  • Faceted joint
  • Lamar Herniated disc
  • Sacroiliac joint dysfunction

Seeking medical advice and treatment is essential especially for more severe cases of lower back pain.

Many different problems can cause pain in the left lower back. Treating low back pain has as one of its primary goals a diagnosis of the cause of the pain. Sometimes the cause of the pain is a simple strain or an injury due to overexertion, while other causes are more serious and can be life-threatening. It is recommended to seek medical care for severe back pain so a physician can perform a thorough examination and rule out potentially serious conditions.

The following are key factors resulting in pain in lower left back:

Low Back Strain

Ligaments and muscles are located in the back that supports and provide movement to the spinal column. These ligaments and muscles run the length of the spine. If you over-stretch or exercise too much, you can damage these tissues resulting in pain in lower left back. Even small injuries can cause significant pain. Falls, excessive twisting or bending, or incorrect lifting of objects can also cause back strain leading to pain in lower left back or another region of the back. 

Lack of muscle strength in the core of the body and obesity contribute to strains of the low back. This is also why “core” exercises can play an important role in maintaining a strong core or midsection which is vital and could reduce lower back injuries from easily occurring.

A Low back strain is typically described as soreness and stiffness that intensifies with movement, laughing, coughing and sneezing. It can occur on both sides of the back or only on one side.

Treating a low back strain starts with applying an ice pack to the affected area several times a day for about 20 minutes each time. Over-the-counter analgesics like naproxen, ibuprofen or acetaminophen can help lessen the pain. Sometimes, a physician will recommend physical therapy if a back strain doesn’t get better on its own.


One-sided low back pain is a common problem during pregnancy. This can occur for different reasons. As the baby grows, the uterus can press on nerves, such as the sciatic nerve. Pressure on this nerve typically causes pain in the low back and buttock that radiates down the leg. Changes in hormonal levels also soften ligaments, creating more stress on the pelvis and lower back. The extra weight being carried by the expectant mother due to the growing baby can also complicate the problem even more and result in pain in lower left back or right side or both.
To help minimize low back pain during pregnancy, try these tips:

  • Maintain good posture: This will keep your center of gravity where it belongs and strengthen your core muscles
  • Change your position often
  • Wear only flat-soled shoes
  • When lying down, rest on your side with a pillow between your knees
  • Maintain your physical activity

Herniated Discs

Herniated discs are a condition by which the discs providing the cushioning between the vertebra of our spine become pinched. As we age, they shrink, bulge, wear out, and in some cases, they may also rupture. If they do rupture, the material inside the disc is forced out and can result in a pinched nerve. Nerves are extremely sensitive to pressure. Severe pain is often due to a herniated or ruptured disc.

When a herniated disc in the lower portion of the back compresses the sciatic nerve, symptoms result that is known as sciatica. The pain of sciatica is usually located on one side and radiates into the buttock, hip,  and travels down into the lower leg or foot. Numbness and pain can be very severe. Treating pain in the lower left back or the entire lumbar region caused by a herniated disc begins with a conservative approach with interventions such as over-the-counter pain medications, physical therapy, and limiting daily activities to reduce pain.

If numbness or a loss of strength is present, a more rapid course of treatment is usually recommended and may include injections of corticosteroids and advanced imaging studies, such as MRI. In most cases, pain due to a lumbar herniated disc will resolve over time. The primary goals of initial treatment are to effectively manage the pain and enable the patient to resume their prior level of daily activity. Other therapies might also include chiropractic treatments or massage therapy. As a last resort, surgery may be considered, and it may be necessary if a loss of strength and numbness are not quickly relieved by more conservative therapies.

Diagnosing pain in lower left back

The process of diagnosing lower back pain whether on the right or whether its pain in lower left beck region, the following may be assessed:

  • Patient’s family medical history will be assessed
  • The current symptoms will be inquired about (the doctor would also want to know whether any weakness or numbness is experienced)
  • The activity level of the patient (active or sedentary)
  • What type of posture does the patient maintain
  • Was there any injuries inquired of late
  • Does the patient get enough sleep (what’s the quality of the mattress and what are their sleeping positions)

Diagnosis with physical examination processes

The physical examination will help the doctor have a better means of determining the source of the pain and how to go ahead with the suitable treatment. The process includes the following:

  • Palpation
  • Neurological examination
  • Motion tests
  • Reflex tests
  • Leg raise test
Diagnostic imaging is the next step to the diagnostic procedure, and this will include X-Rays, CT (Computer Tomography) scans and MRI’s (Magnetic Resonance Imaging).

Low back pain is a terrible condition to live with and it can disrupt your daily functions. If it is caused by muscle stretching then the chances are the discomfort will only last a few days and simple massage and compress solutions can help to alleviate the pain.

What to do for low back pain when it comes to medical conditions being the cause of it makes treatment even more prolonged and difficult. However, treatment and care for low back pain are possible once the doctor has assessed the source of the pain.

Here’s what to do for low left back pain to help cope with the discomfort

You can reduce your risk of developing low back pain by taking the following steps:

  • Exercise: Exercise helps to build your strength and it also helps keep your weight under control. Low-impact aerobic activities are recommended by most experts because these are least likely to jerk or strain the tissues of the back. Core-strengthening exercises are excellent for your back also. These exercises will train your back and abdominal which protects your back. Flexibility exercises that are targeted specifically at improving the flexibility in your upper legs and hips will help your lower back too. Before you start any exercise routine, talk to your healthcare practitioner.
  • Smoking: Smoking significantly increases your risk of suffering from lower back pain. If you smoke, try to stop. If you don’t smoke yourself, avoid second-hand smoke.
  • Body weight: The more above your ideal weight you are, the greater your chance of having pain in your back. There is a significant difference in back pain risk among normal-weight individuals and those who are obese.
  • Standing Posture: Keep your pelvis in a neutral position. Stand up straight, with your weight equal to both feet. Keep your legs straight, but don’t lock your knees.
  • Sitting Posture: Your chair needs to provide support for your back, rests for your arms and, if you’re working, your chair should swivel. Keep your feet flat, or use a small footstool. You should be able to sit straight up. If you’re typing or using a keyboard, your forearms should be in a straight horizontal line and your elbows at right angles.
  • Lifting: Always lift with your legs, never with your back. Keep your back in a straight line and only bend your knees and hips. Keep your feet apart for good balance and one foot slightly ahead. Hold the load close to your body. Tighten your abdominal muscles as you lift and don’t straighten your legs before you lift. Never turn and lift at the same time, as this creates a twisting motion. If a load is too heavy, get someone to help you.
  • Moving a load: Push objects. It’s much easier on your back than pulling.
  • Shoes: Avoid high heels. Flats are much less straining for your lower back.
  • Driving:  Make sure you have support for your low back. Your side mirrors and rear-view mirror need to be positioned so you can see out of them without twisting. Your brake, clutch and gas pedals should be directly under your feet. Take plenty of breaks on long trips to get out of the vehicle and stretch, walk around and change position.
  • Sleeping:  Your mattress should keep your spine straight and support the weight of your buttocks and shoulders. Use a small pillow under your head, but one that doesn’t create a steep angle.  

Sometimes it’s good to give your back time before jumping into serious treatments and measures as sometimes this could stand a chance of aggravating the situation instead of making it better. If it persists or you start having side effects that could be related to kidney stones or infection, or even if the pain is too unbearable then it’s only natural to get help from your doctor or medical professional.

What to do for low back pain when it comes to treatment may include the following:

  • Anti-inflammatory drugs could help such as Motrin, Advil, and Aleve. NSAID’s used over a prolonged period can cause gastrointestinal issues.
  • Cold and hot compresses can work with the first two days being cold and thereafter you can do sessions of hot compresses. Cooling helps to reduce inflammation and swelling within the area.
  • Stretches can help as it makes your body and spine more flexible and supple making it less prone to injury as quickly.
  • Acupuncture can work the body’s natural ability to use its energy to heal by channelling specific pressure points.
  • Increasing your probiotics can help your body to balance good bacteria, helping to create immunity and reduce inflammation
  • Nasal steroids like Nasonex, QNASL, and Dymista are prescription medications but can help reduce allergic reactions such as sneezing or coughing and more which can be linked to lower back pain. Nasacort is an OTC option.
What to do for low back pain when more serious measures are required may include surgery. There are two major sugary types including the following:
  • Laminectomy 
This process removes part of the tissue or bone that is causing the compression of the nerve or nerves.
  • Microdiscectomy
In a microdiscectomy a small incision is made and using a microscopic view to make the picture larger, the doctor will then be able to complete the operation.
Surgery is usually only done when the situation calls for it and no other methods can help alleviate or solve the pain experienced by the patient.

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