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Lower Left Back Pain

Could there be any particular reason why an individual experiences lower back pain on the left side? Here, we discuss the possible reasons, and also a few tips on how to prevent this condition.
Mamta Mule Feb 9, 2019

Back Pain So Common!

If you experience some kind of back pain, you aren't fighting a lonely battle. In fact, this is the most common reason why people miss work, and the second-most common ailment for which people visit a doctor. All this adds up to around $50 billion that Americans have to shell out each year on this problem.
The reasons for lower back pain on the left side may vary from person to person. Pain in the lower back can strike at anytime, making day-to-day chores a difficult task.

The pattern of the pain in both acute and chronic back pain might range from a dull, acute ache to a debilitating pain.
The lower left area of the back might experience pain due to various ills, which could include organ-related medical conditions or conditions that cause musculoskeletal pain. One common cause is strain to the back muscles due to repetitive exercise, lifting weights, and other such movements. In addition, obesity also puts extra pressure on the lower back.

Factors Leading to Back Pain on the Left Side


Intense lower back pain, especially on the left side is common during pregnancy. Growth of the uterus, positioning of the baby inside the womb and other hormonal changes during pregnancy are some basic causes of lower back pain in pregnant women.
As the uterus expands, it shifts the center of gravity of the body along with other changes like stretching and weakening of the abdominal muscles. This automatically changes the body's posture, leading to strain on the lower back.
Extra weight being carried during this period means more work for the muscles and increased stress on the joints, which is why the back feels worse at the end of the day. If the growing uterus is pressing on a nerve, it may be another cause of this pain.
The joints and ligaments that attach the pelvic bones to the spine could also loosen due to hormonal changes (related to hormones called estrogen and relaxin) during pregnancy. This causes pain while sitting, standing, and walking for a long duration.

Herniated Disc

A herniated disc is also known as a bulging, protruding, or ruptured disc, and it might be the effect of excessive exertion or extreme stress. The intervertebral discs that are located between the vertebrae function as cushions. Their gel-like interior allows the spine a level of flexibility.
However, stress can cause the gel within the discs to snap via the outermost part of the disc. If the gel compresses a nerve, the affected individual is likely to experience acute pain. Furthermore, when a muscle, bone, or a disc impinges on the sciatic nerve, the outcome is sciatica -- acute spasmodic pain along the sciatic nerve.

Muscular Pain

Back pain that occurs while breathing could be caused due to a pulled diaphragm muscle. This pain often radiates throughout the chest, abdomen and back, making one feel very uneasy.

Lumbar Strain

Individuals aged forty or above are more prone to lumbar strain. Trauma to the lumbar tissues could lead to discomfort and pain in the lower back. The nerves in this region could get inflamed or compressed, which in turn may restrict free movement.

Spinal Stenosis

Spinal stenosis refers to the narrowing of the spinal canal due to inordinate bone growth, herniated discs, or thickening of cartilage or ligament tissues present in the spinal canal. This can compress the spinal cord and the spinal nerve roots which exit the spinal cord.
Lower back pain due to this condition is more common in individuals over 50 years of age. The pain could be accompanied by numbness and weakness.

Kidney Infection & Kidney Stones

A kidney infection could also cause pain in the lower back. Due to the infection, the kidney swells and stretches the pain-sensitive capsule around it, leading to pain in the lower back area. Kidney stones could also cause pain in the left lower side of the back.
One might also feel pain and a burning sensation while urinating. This pain will be relieved when the kidney infection is cured or the kidney stone passes out.

Bone Conditions

A few bone-related disorders could also cause pain in the back or the entire body.
  • Scoliosis - An unnatural lateral arching of the spine.
  • Spina Bifida - A part of the spinal cord and its meninx are exposed via a small opening in the backbone.
  • Osteopetrosis - An uncommon genetic disorder of the skeletal development, leading to monolithic but fragile bones.
  • Osteoporosis - A bone disorder characterized by abnormal loss of bone tissue, which results in brittle and fragile bones. In extreme cases, a sudden movement or even a sneeze can break a bone easily.

A few other conditions that lead to lower back pain are mentioned below.

⇛ Stress to the tissues or bones as a consequence of some disease.
⇛ Ovarian problems such as uterine fibroids, ovarian cysts (polycystic ovary syndrome [PCOS]), and endometriosis.
⇛ Malignant or non-malignant tumors which develop in any part of the body.
⇛ Problems with the stomach and gastrointestinal system (irritable bowel syndrome).
⇛ Muscle imbalance can also lead to various physiological problems apart from back pain.
Lower back pain while breathing is also known to be an indication of serious health problems like cardiac and pulmonary conditions. Hence, if you suddenly experience such symptoms, it's recommended that you consult your doctor soon, and get the same treated.
If you have been examined to rule out the possibility of any serious health problem, then there is nothing to worry about. Breathe slowly and observe to find a pattern that gives minimum pain.

Dealing with the Pain

⇛ After consulting a doctor, one can take a few over-the-counter non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) to deal with the pain.

⇛ Hot treatments, like a hot bath or a hot water bag kept on the affected area on the back helps ease the pain. An icepack is effective too. (Note.- Avoid putting the ice directly on skin as that might cause a cold burn)
⇛ In order to ease the pain, alter your sleeping position. For example, place a pillow under the knees to help maintain the normal curve of the back. Also, as an alternative, while sleeping sideways, pull your legs up slightly towards the chest, and place a pillow between your legs.
⇛ Lying in bed for a long period of time is not recommended. Instead, keep moving (walk around the house, stroll in the park, etc.), as individuals who are physically active tend to recover sooner than those who aren't.

Few Preventive Measures

  • Your posture is most important to prevent pain in this area. It is crucial to maintain correct body posture all the time.
  • While sitting on a chair for a long time (in front of a computer), the left side of your back is under constant strain.This can lead to lower back pain. Don't lean forward and try to keep your back straight while sitting on the chair.
  • Do not stay in the same position for a long duration. You should keep taking breaks in between while sitting for a long time, to avoid back pain.
  • Keep the lower back supported with a small pillow while driving a four-wheeler, if the seat doesn't provide lower back support. Also, use a pillow in the office if your chair does not provide lower back support. Keep your back straight while driving a two-wheeler vehicle.
  • Bend your knees inwards while lifting any object from the floor. Don't bend your back.
  • Be careful and slow while turning, twisting, and bending your body, as sudden movements can also put the lower back under a lot of strain.
  • Exercise regularly and follow the right techniques while doing so. Do not overdo any type of exercise, and avoid a sudden increase in the duration of the exercise.

Simple Stretching Exercises

Exercising is definitely helpful in getting relief from back pain. But remember that you must take your doctor's advice before starting any sort of exercise, if you are already experiencing back pain. Mentioned here are some easy-to-do workouts for you.
Lie flat on your back. Lift your neck and bring your chin close to the chest. Bring your knees towards the chest and hold them with your hands. Count to ten and then bring the neck and legs back to the original position.
Lie on your stomach and push your upper body off the floor, using your arms, while keeping the chin up. Count to ten and come back to the initial position.
Lie on your back and bend your knees. Keep your feet flat over the floor. Tighten your abdomen and buttocks, and push the lower back off the floor. Count to five and then relax.
Other Exercises: Walking, yoga, and swimming for about half an hour on alternate days too are effective exercises for lower back pain.

Myths & Facts About Lower Back Pain

Myth #1: Take complete rest while you have lower back pain.

Fact: You can rest for a day or two if you have lower back pain. But after that, you need to have some movement. So, walk around and exercise. Remember, complete rest will only worsen the pain and slow down your recovery.
Myth #2: Any back pain is the same.

Fact: This is not so. It can be acute or chronic. Acute means a short-term pain which may last a few days or at the most for a few weeks. The pain that lasts for more than 3 months is chronic back pain. It can come and go in flares. Mostly, lower back pain on the left side is acute, but it may worsen without proper care.
Myth #3: The intensity of pain is proportional to the damage.

Fact: The amount of back pain is not directly proportional to the amount of damage caused. A degenerated disc won't be very painful at first. Even a slight lower left side back pain could sometimes be an indication of some severe problem.
Myth #4: Exercise will worsen lower back pain.

Performing exercises for lower back pain will help in strengthening the back muscles and help them heal properly. Obviously, you have to exercise in the right way and not overdo the same while you are experiencing severe back pain.
Keep your lower back strong with regular care and strengthening exercises. Don't ignore even the slightest pain, because, if not taken care of, it may become severe. It is always better to seek medical help for the treatment of back-related pain.
Disclaimer: This is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a substitute for professional medical advice.