Lower back pain is so common and unavoidable that almost 60% adults will experience it at some point in their life. Lower back pain on left side is more common compared to lower back pain on right side . Lower back pain on left side can cause dull aching which may increase in intensity and may affect the hip and the leg. Some people complain this pain as a cold sensation in their leg or in their foot but some describe the pain as a hot poker sensation.
Causes and Treatments for Lower Back Pain on Left Side
Pregnancy can result in lower back pain on left side because the weight gain stresses the lumbar spine. Likewise, the hormone estrogen and “relaxin” can contribute to the loosening of the ligaments and the structure of back.
Treatment: Pelvic tilt exercises and stretches are recommended for pregnant women to relieve the pain. But do seek your doctor's advice and permission before you start any exercise.
The aging process of your body can also cause left lower back pain. As you age, the protein and water content of cartilage changes, resulting in thinner, fragile and weaker cartilage. Since the disc and joints are placed in the vertebrae which is partly composed of cartilage, these areas not only undergo wear and tear but also degenerates as time passes, leading to back pain.
Treatment: This pain is normally treated with rest, heat compress and rehabilitative exercises. Medications are also given to soothe pain, inflammation and muscle spasms.
Lower Back Strain
Lower back strain is one of the most common causes of lower back pain on left side. Lower back strain, also known as lumbar strain, is characterized as a stretch injury which affects the ligaments, muscles on the low back and the tendons. The condition occurs due to the body trauma and improper use or overuse of the back.
Treatment: Treatments for lower back strain may include giving your back a rest and taking medications that treat muscle spasm. Applying heat applications and massaging the painful area can also aid in treating lower back strain. Besides, reconditioning exercises can strengthen the lower back muscles.
Lumbar injury or fractures can be the culprit of lower back pain on left side. Fractures that affect the lumbar spine and scrum bone are very common in those with osteoporosis and taking cortisone medications. Lumbar injury may lead to onset of localized pain, radiate pain around the waist region and pain that worsens with body motions.
Treatment: In both young and old, the lumbar injury may take weeks to heal. So get enough rest and sleep is essential in curing lumbar injury. In some unbearable circumstances, painkillers are needed to ease this pain.
Shingles are acute infection that affects the nerves in charge of skin sensation. Patients who suffered with shingles have had chickenpox before. The virus causing chickenpox exist in a dormant state in the spinal nerve roots even after the chickenpox is healed. The back pain in the lumbar area associated with shingles can bring about skin rashes.
Treatment: Apply lotions like calamine and take acyclovir (Zovirax) and other medications will provide great relief. Besides, Lidocaine (Lidoderm) and pregabalin are also effective in treating lower back pain caused by shingles.
Sciatica or irritation of the nerve may occur when the nerves are under pressure. The pain may lead to mild ache, burning sensation and extreme discomfort. Sitting for a long time, coughing, twisting, sneezing and straining can worsen this pain.
Treatment: Biofeedback therapy and acupuncture can ease left side lower back pain. Besides, there are many useful medications for sciatica. Oral medications like muscles relaxants are prescribed to ease muscle spasms. For chronic back pain, antidepressants and other prescribed pain medications will do the work. Physical therapy and surgical procedure are also recommended depending on individual cases.
Prolapsed disc refers to any problems affecting the rubber cushion between individual bones which make up the spine. A prolapsed disk may irritate all the surrounding nerves thus resulting to numbness, weakness and pain on the back. However, some people do not experience any symptoms.
Treatment: There are several ways to get prolapsed disc under control:
Over the counter pain medications like Advil and naproxen are given to those who have mild pain.
Physical therapy, such as heat or cold compress and bracing the neck and lower back for a short time, are effective in correcting the wrong position and easing the pain.
Surgical procedure is suggested by doctor, if all the conservative treatment did not improve the condition.
The lower back pain on left side caused by kidney infection may result to kidney swelling and sharp aching pain. Patients who suffer with these conditions are very sensitive even to the slightest touch in the flank region. With kidney infection, you may also experience high fever, vomiting and nausea.
Treatment: Kidney infection should be treated timely with intravenous antibiotics to treat the infection and prevent further damages to kidneys.
Kidney stones occur when a stone is formed in the ureter, a slender tube that links the kidney to the bladder. If the urine flow is blocked, the urine may back up into the kidney resulting in back pain and swollen kidneys. Instead of steady and continuous pain, this pain comes in waves.
Treatment: For mild kidney stones, drinking enough water, take painkillers like ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), acetaminophen (Tylenol, others) or naproxen sodium (Aleve) and take prescribed medications to pass the kidney stones. For severe kidney stones, sound waves and surgeries are needed to break the stones and get them out of your body.
Lower back pain may be caused by malignant or benign tumors. Those tumors may be primary tumors originated in the pelvis, the bone of the spine or the spinal cord, or metastatic tumors originated elsewhere but spread to the lower back. Tumors can cause localized pain, severe pain and even loss of muscle function.
Treatment: Tumors are often detected through imaging tests like X-rays, nuclear bone scanning, MRI and CAT scanning. If you suspect a tumor is the cause of your lower back pain on left side, visit a doctor as soon as possible.
When to See a Doctor
In most cases of lower back pain on left side can heal on its own and may not require a doctor’s visit, however, you have to visit your health care provider if:
Your back pain is severe;
The pain gets worse at night;
Back pain is accompanied with unexplained weight loss, chest pain, high fever, chronic back pain which does not ease after rest;
You have numbness in the genital area, loss control of the bladder or bowel.