Sometimes, lower back pain is felt on just one side of the body. Some people experience constant pain, while others have an ache that comes and goes.
The type of back pain one feels can vary as well. Many people experience a stabbing sharp pain, while others feel more of a dull ache. In addition, people with lower back pain react differently to pressure and movement. It helps some, but can make the pain worse for others.
The most common causes of lower left back pain are:
- soft tissue damage of muscles or ligaments that support the spine
- injury to the spinal column, such as discs or facet joints of the spine
- a condition involving internal organs such as kidneys, intestines, or reproductive organs
Soft tissue damage
When muscles in the lower back are strained (overused or overstretched), or ligaments are sprained (overstretched or torn), inflammation can occur. Inflammation can lead to muscle spasm which can result in pain.
Spinal column damage
Lower back pain from spinal column damage is commonly caused by:
- herniated lumbar discs
- osteoarthritis in facet joints
- dysfunction of sacroiliac joints
Internal organ problems
Lower left back pain can be an indication of a problem with an abdominal organ such as:
- kidney infection
- kidney stones
- ulcerative colitis
- gynecological disorders such as endometriosis and fibroids
Your lower left back pain could be caused by a serious condition. Seek immediate medical attention if you experience:
- unusual weakness in your lower body
- tingling in your lower body
- shortness of breath
- painful urination
- blood in the urine
Treating lower left back pain
The first step in treating lower back pain is commonly self-care such as:
- Rest. Take a day or two off from strenuous activity.
- Avoidance. Avoid or minimize activities or positions that aggravate your pain.
- OTC medication. Over-the-counter (OTC) anti-inflammatory pain medications such as aspirin (Bayer), ibuprofen (Advil), and naproxen (Aleve) can help reduce discomfort.
- Ice/heat therapy. Cold packs can reduce swelling, and heat can increase blood flow and relax muscle tension.
See your doctor
A visit to your doctor, the second step in treating lower back pain, may be necessary if your self-care efforts are not producing results. For lower back pain, your doctor might prescribe:
- Muscle relaxants. Drugs such as baclofen (Lioresal) and chlorzoxazone (Paraflex) are commonly used to reduce muscle tightness and spasms.
- Opioids. Drugs such as fentanyl (Actiq, Duragesic) and hydrocodone (Vicodin, Lortab) are sometimes prescribed for short-term treatment of intense lower back pain.
- Injections. A lumbar epidural steroid injection administers a steroid into the epidural space, close to the spinal nerve root.
- Brace. Sometimes a brace, often combined with physical therapy, can provide comfort, speed healing, and offer pain relief.
The third step is surgery. Typically, this is the last resort for severe pain that has not responded well to 6 to 12 weeks of other treatment.
Some people who suffer from lower back pain try alternative care such as:
If you’re experiencing lower left back pain, you are not alone. Back pain is one of the leading causes of absence from the workplace.
Depending on the severity of your pain or the extent of your condition, there might be simple steps you can take at home to speed up the healing process and relieve discomfort. If a few days of home care don’t help, or if you’re experiencing unusual symptoms, get together with your doctor for a full diagnosis and review of treatment options.