Lower left back pain refers to the pain in the back area above the hip or buttocks. This is a common condition among young and older people. According to research, nearly 60% of adults will experience back pain at some point in their life. In addition, lower back pain often affects just one side of your body, and the pain on the left side is usually more common than pain on the right side.
Experiencing lower left back pain can be frustrating and terrifying. Depending on the causes, the pain may be mild and dull or sharp, stabbing, and severe. It may be constant, while sometimes it will come and goes. This pain could originate from muscles, joints injuries, or organs in the pelvic area such as kidneys, pancreas, colon, or uterus. Sometimes, it can spread to your lumbar, hip, and legs area.
There are many possible causes of this common condition. The best way to treat the problem is by understanding what causes it. This article discusses 25 causes of pain in the lower left back. The location and symptoms can help a doctor diagnose the cause. For some mild symptoms, you can use some home remedies to ease the pain. When the pain is severe or other symptoms cause concern, you’d better see a doctor as soon as possible.
20 Common Causes of Lower Left Back Pain with Treatments
Lower left back pain can be caused by damages to the soft tissues, such as ligaments, muscles, and joints, or it can be due to a problem involving any of the internal organs in the area, such as intestines, kidneys, and reproductive organs.
1. Muscle Strain
Muscle strain usually occurs when muscle fibers are overstretched. This will cause pain on one side of the lower back. According to the Association of Neurological Surgeons, muscle strain is the most common cause of one-sided lower back pain. The pain from muscle strain may range from mild to severe, depending on the extent of strain to the muscles or tendons. This pain can radiate to the spine and surrounding areas.
In addition to pain, you may suffer from other symptoms such as stiffness or a limited range of motion. The strain may be caused by a fall, twisting, heavy lifting, or poor posture for a long time. You may feel chronic pain in the lumbar region when you get up or bend over.
Some causes of strain may include:
- Moving or carrying heavy objects
- Falling on a slippery surface
- Physical activities that involve twisting
Depending on the severity, muscle strain usually resolves within a few days to several weeks. Avoid activities that may worsen the condition.
Applying ice compress to the affected area can reduce inflammation and swelling. Wrap a piece of ice with a cloth or towel and place it on the back. You can do this for 20-30 minutes each time, effectively relieve lower back pain.
Sciatica is pain caused by an irritated or pinched sciatic nerve that runs from your lower back down your leg. This condition is usually caused by spinal stenosis or herniated disc.
In most cases, the pain from sciatica only affects one side of your body. It can cause stabbing, shooting, or burning pains that radiate down your leg, buttocks, or feet. This electric or burning pain may worsen when you get up, cough, sneeze or sit for a long time. You may also feel numbness or weakness in your leg.
To treat sciatica, you can try to apply heat packs on the back to reduce nerve irritation. Some gentle exercises such as yoga can also help to improve movement and relieve pain.
3. Herniated Disc
One of the possible causes of lower left back pain is herniated disc. The vertebrae (bones) that form the spine are cushioned and protected by discs. These discs absorb shock and keep your spine flexible. A herniated disc occurs when a fragment of the disc nucleus gets compressed and bulges outward into the spinal canal through a tear in the annulus.
This condition usually is caused by an injury or develops as your age due to wear and tear. If a disc in your spine herniates, it will irritate nerves and cause numbness, weakness, and lower left or right back pain. You may also experience severe sharp back pain on one side of the body in your buttocks, thigh, and calf muscles.
The common signs and symptoms of a herniated disc include:
- Leg or arm pain
- Intense pain in calf and thigh
- Numbness or tingling sensation
- Muscle weakness
Some people can have this condition without knowing it. If your back pain travels to other areas of the body or is accompanied by weakness, numbness, or tingling sensation, see your doctor for accurate diagnosis and treatment.
Conservative treatments for a herniated disc include a planned exercise, avoiding painful positions, and medications to relieve pain. Your doctor may recommend physical therapy designed for minimizing the pain. In rare cases, surgery may be suggested if conservative treatments do not work.
4. Poor Posture
Poor posture is another common cause of left-sided lower back pain. Repetitive activities with a poor posture such as lifting, carrying, and sitting at a computer may lead to tension and muscle tightness. This will also cause the back tendons and muscles to stiffen and become sore.
The pain from poor posture usually causes muscle fatigue, general body aches and affects muscle strength. Poor posture can also cause neck aches and upper back pain.
You can try some helpful exercises to improve posture, relax your muscles, and ease back pain.
5. Kidney Infection
Kidney infections usually occur by bacteria that infect the bladder then get into your urinary system. This will cause inflammation and make your urination painful. As kidneys are located in your middle back, kidney infections can also cause dull pain on your left-hand-sided lower back.
According to MedicineNet, a kidney infection can cause persistent back pain just under your ribs or in the pelvic area. This pain may feel deeper than pain from muscle strain. The pain from kidney infection can sometimes be felt on both sides of your back.
Other signs and symptoms may include:
- Fever or chills
- Abdominal pain
- Groin pain or back pain
- Frequent urination, persistent need to urinate
- Nausea or vomiting
- Pain or burning sensation when urinating
- Cloudy urine that may smell bad
To keep the health of your kidneys, you’d better drink plenty of fluids and avoid habits that damage your kidneys. If you experience confusion, high fever, hallucinations, sharp pain for a long time, seek medical help immediately. Without treatment, this problem can lead to a life-threatening condition.
6. Kidney Stones
kidney stones are another problem with your kidneys that can cause lower left back pain. These stones are deposits of salts and minerals that build up and form in your kidney. The size can range from a small dot to a ping pong ball. These deposits are rarely noticed until they cause intense pain and blockage. You may feel severe pain when it passes through the urinary tract.
According to Medicinenet, the pain of kidney stones will only appear in your left back or right back at one time. The pain may range from your lower back to your groin and lower abdomen. The come and go pain may appear just below your ribs and upper back.
Some signs and symptoms of a kidney stone may include:
- Pain when you are urinating
- Red, pink, or brown urine
- Severe pain in the back and side
- Radiating pain to the groin and lower abdomen
- Pain that comes in waves
- Persistent urge to urinate
- Small amounts of urine
- Fever and chills in case of infection
See your doctor if you experience the symptoms of kidney stones. Also, drink 8 to 10 glasses of water throughout a day to keep your urine clear. Plan your diet carefully and reduce your consumption of protein and salt. Your doctor may also recommend medication to alleviate the pain.
Pancreatitis refers to the inflammation of the pancreas that sits on the left side of your abdomen. This small organ can make insulin and help your stomach digestion. If your pancreas becomes inflamed, you may experience upper or lower abdominal pain that can radiate to your back. The pain from pancreatitis may be severe, acute, sudden, and gradually become chronic constant pain in the back over time.
There are usually two types of pancreatitis: acute and chronic. The common causes of pancreatitis include heavy alcohol consumption, gallstones, and smoking. Other causes include infections, surgery, metabolic disorders, autoimmune diseases side effect of certain medications.
Symptoms of acute pancreatitis include fever, nausea, vomiting, rapid heartbeat, and dehydration. The pain may increase after your eating or lying flat on the back. Symptoms of chronic pancreatitis usually include jaundice, weight loss, nutritional deficiencies, and diabetes.
Treatment for chronic pancreatitis includes diet changes, pain-relieving medications, stop drinking alcohol and insulin. Acute pancreatitis is a serious illness that requires immediate medical help.
Endometriosis occurs when tissue similar to the tissue in the uterus grows outside of your uterine cavity. This will cause lower back pain on the left side and pelvic discomfort in females.
According to WebMD, endometriosis can cause pain and cramp before your period, during your period, or even during bowel movements. The pain from endometriosis usually appears on one side of the lower back.
Other symptoms include fatigue, lower abdominal pain, and menstruation pain. So far, doctors are still unsure of the exact cause of endometriosis. If you experience endometriosis, you can use a heating pad to relieve cramping in the back and see your doctor as soon as possible.
Arthritis is an inflammation and tenderness of your joints. According to the Arthritis Foundation, the doctor has found more than 100 different types of arthritis now. Arthritis such as osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis can cause joint pain, back stiffness, swelling, and decreased range of motion.
Depending on where the arthritis is, in some cases, the pain only occurs on your left or right side at one time. The stiffness will typically worsen with your age.
To relieve the pain and improving movement, you can use some pain relievers and anti-inflammatory Medication. Sometimes anti-rheumatic or corticosteroid drugs can also be used to treat rheumatoid arthritis.
Most pregnant women experience some kind of lower back pain that happens where the pelvis meets your spine. This pain is widespread because of posture changes, hormone changes, muscle separation, weight gain, and stress. According to WebMD, the pain that affects pregnant women usually starts from the second trimester. And the pain will ease gradually before you give birth.
To eliminate low back pain in pregnancy, you can try some regular exercises such as walking, swimming, and pelvic tilt exercises. This exercise can help strengthen your back and boosts flexibility. Make sure to seek your doctor’s advice first.
Heat and Cold can also help ease discomfort. Wrap a bag of ice or frozen vegetables with a towel, apply it to the painful area for 20-30 minutes several times a day. You can also put a heating pad or hot water bottle on your abdomen during pregnancy.
11. Injury to lower back
Lumbar injury to the joints, muscles, ligaments, or fractures can be the culprit of pain in your lower left back. This pain may make it difficult when you want to walk or bend over. Sometimes lower back pain may radiate to your abdomen, groin, or waist region. Lumbar fractures usually appear in people with osteoporosis and taking cortisone medications.
The lumbar injury usually takes 2-5 weeks to heal, and you need enough rest and sleep to cure the injury. You can also apply a cold pack on the painful area and wait for 15 to 20 minutes in the first 2 days after the injury. This can help ease pain, prevent swelling, and bruising in your lower back. For some unbearable pain, you should seek medical help as soon as possible.
Shingles are acute infections that can affect the nerves in your body. This will cause lower left or right back pain, usually starting from a burning or tingling sensation to severe.
According to Mayoclinic, the virus that causes chickenpox is often dormant after the chickenpox is cured. The shingles can also cause skin rashes on one side of the body.
To eliminate the lower left back pain from shingles, you can use lotions like calamine, acyclovir, Lidocaine, Manuka, pregabalin, and essential oils.
Diverticulitis occurs when the small pouches along the walls of the colon become infected by bacteria. They develop when weak spots in the colon cause pouches due to pressure. Diverticulitis is the condition when these pouches get infected or inflamed.
Diverticulitis can cause irritation and abdominal or lower left back pain. According to a doctor on Healthline, diverticulitis can cause severe pain suddenly with a feeling of nausea and bloating.
Some signs and symptoms of diverticulitis are:
- Lower left back pain
- Fever or chills
- Nausea and vomiting
- Constipation or diarrhea
- Bloating and gas
To get rid of the discomfort that diverticulitis causes, you should drink plenty of warm water. In addition, eating a high fiber diet, taking probiotic supplements, and digestive enzymes can help relieve the symptoms of diverticulitis.
Mild diverticulitis can be treated with antibiotics, dietary changes, and rest. Your doctor will recommend a liquid diet to speed up the healing process of your colon. Recurring or severe diverticulitis may require surgery.
14. Ovarian Cyst and Other Reproductive System Problems
Lower left back pain in women can also be caused by Ovarian cyst, Uterine fibroids, Pelvic inflammatory disease, fallopian tube, or ovary on the left side.
Many women experience ovarian cysts at least once. In most cases, cysts are painless, harmless, and do not show any symptoms. The majority may also disappear within several months, even without treatment. However, when cysts in the ovary have ruptured, it can lead to severe symptoms. Signs and symptoms of an ovarian cyst may include:
- Pelvic Pain in the lower abdomen
- A feeling of fullness in the stomach
- Nausea and vomiting
- Painful bowel movements
- Pain during sex
Pelvic inflammatory disease is an infection caused by bacteria. It can cause high fever, cramping pain in the pelvic, vaginal bleeding, or discharge. Lower left back pain in men can be caused by some reproductive system problems such as a testicular infection, twisted testicle, or tumor.
See your doctor immediately if you experience the symptoms mentioned, especially if you suffer severe pain with vomiting or fever. Your doctor will recommend tests to determine the size, type, and whether treatment is needed.
15. Sacroiliac joint dysfunction
Sacroiliac joint dysfunction is a pain that occurs in the sacroiliac joint. Although not proven, many doctors believe that Sacroiliac joint dysfunction is a common cause of low back or leg pain.
The sacroiliac joint helps connects your spine to your pelvic bone. Damage to your sacroiliac joint can lead to mild to sharp pain in your lower back and lumbar region that can spread to your thighs and groin. This irritation and pain usually appear on one side of your lower back.
To relieve the pain from Sacroiliac joint dysfunction, you can try Heat remedies. This treatment can help ease discomfort effectively.
16. Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Irritable bowel syndrome is a common condition that affects the large intestines and causes abdominal pain, cramping, diarrhea, constipation, and bloating. Some people can control the symptoms by changing their lifestyle, managing diet, and reducing stress levels.
The common causes of irritable bowel syndrome include:
- Hypersensitive colon
- Muscle contractions in intestines
- Inflammation in the intestine
- Problems in the nerves in the digestive system
- Viral or bacterial infection
Mild symptoms can be alleviated by making changes in lifestyle and diet and by reducing stress levels. Consider drinking plenty of fluids, exercise daily, eat high-fiber foods, and avoid your triggers. Your doctor may also recommend that you avoid high-gas foods, gluten, and certain carbohydrates.
17. Spinal Stenosis
Spinal stenosis is a condition in which the spaces within the spine start to narrow. Mostly in adults 50 and above, it gives additional pressure on the nerves that may cause muscle weakness, numbness, pain, and tingling sensation. Commonly caused by wear-and-tear related to osteoarthritis, the symptoms of spinal stenosis can get worse over time. Other causes include injuries, herniated discs, tumors, and Paget’s disease.
Spinal stenosis usually affects the lower back or neck. When symptoms occur, you may experience numbness, stiffness, and back pain. Other specific symptoms may include:
- Foot drop or leg weakness
- Shooting pains radiating from the buttocks or lower back down to the legs
- Difficulty walking or standing
- Loss of bowel or bladder control
Visit your doctor at once if you experience any of the symptoms mentioned. Your doctor will ask about your symptoms, medical history and perform physical examinations. Imaging tests may also be conducted to find the underlying cause.
18. Fibroid Tumors
Fibroid tumors are noncancerous growths composed of renegade muscle cells in or on the uterus. Also called myomas or leiomyomas, uterine fibroids range in size from undetectable by the naked eye to large masses that can enlarge or distort the uterus. In extreme cases, multiple fibroids can develop and expand the uterus.
The most common signs and symptoms of fibroid tumors include:
- Heavy menstrual bleeding
- Frequent urination
- Pelvic pain or pressure
- Leg pains or back pain
Other gynecological disorders that may cause lower left back pain include Vaginitis, Pelvic Floor Disorders, and Vulvodynia.
It is unclear why uterine fibroids form. Some factors that may contribute to the development include hormones, pregnancy, and family history. See a doctor if you have bleeding between periods, painful periods, persistent pelvic pain, or difficulty emptying your bladder.
Spondylolysis is a fracture in the connection between vertebrae (bones that make up your spinal column). This condition occurs when a part of the vertebral bone is broken on the sides. This part is vulnerable as it has a poor blood supply and very thin. This condition is common among high-impact athletes like wrestlers, dancers, gymnasts, baseball players, lacrosse players, and tennis players.
Some people with spondylolysis do not develop any symptoms. The symptoms include:
- Low back pain or buttock pain
- Pain that becomes more painful with physical activity or exercise
- Difficulty walking
- Weakness or numbness in one or both legs
- In rare cases, loss of bowel or bladder control
See your doctor if you experience any of the symptoms mentioned. Your doctor will perform imaging tests like X-rays, MRI, or CT scan to see the damage. Doctors prescribe nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and may suggest physical therapy.
Stress has been part of everyone’s life. While a small amount of stress can encourage you to perform well, having too many things to handle can affect your overall health and lead to a persistent headache, shoulder pain, and back pain. Monitor your stress by identifying the causes. What makes you feel worried, anxious, angry, irritable, or tense? Do you often experience a digestive problem or a headache?
Stress will always be present, but there are many ways to prevent it from affecting your health and productivity.
- Manage your time well
- Get enough sleep
- Eat healthy foods
- Exercise at least 30 minutes a day
- Interact with family and friends
- Relaxing techniques
When is Lower Back Pain a Serious Sign?
It’s hard in the early stages of pain to determine whether back pain is indicating something more severe or not. When it comes to severe cases, the most common reaction is little to no pain at all!
This means that you could be experiencing a life-changing injury, but the pain revolving around it is minimal. Other paints such as muscle cramps and pulls are the worst as they throb for hours, days, and weeks on end, but they can fix themselves in no time.
Cancer may cause back pain when it creates a tumor near the spinal area. This can be any kind of cancer, ranging from those in the spine directly or those in the organs nearby. A spinal tumor, vertebral tumor, and pancreatic tumor are all cancers that can create an effect on your lower left back.
This kind of pain does not subside and gets worse over time instead. Even if it happens in the first three weeks of your back pain, once the pain starts elevating rather than decreasing with rest and medication, it’s time to consult a doctor.
Cauda Equina Syndrome
This illness happens when your lowest part of the spinal cord begins to pinch. Cauda equina can branch out from some sort of developing cancer, infection, or herniated disc. The symptoms of this syndrome are weak legs, numbness, and frustration when peeing.
Spinal infections are harder to identify. When it comes to this kind of illness, the infection is very timid, and it does tend to create pain. The pain does deepen, and fever and illness can complement the problem to help you identify the infection.
This type of pain is related to heart disease. What occurs here is the arteries next to the spine begin to inflate and irritate the surrounding area. Smokers and diabetics are more liable to this illness than others.
Ankylosing spondylitis is an inflammation of the spine that is a form of arthritis. This condition can cause pain and stiffness in your lower back. The pain may also appear in the lumbar, hips, buttocks, or pelvis area.
According to Mayo Clinic, back pain from ankylosing spondylitis usually affects the area at the base of your spine. This sickness is more commonly found in men. With it, the pain lasts for a long period of time, perhaps even a lifetime, and steadily increases with age. This type of pain increases with rest and decreases when active.
For ankylosing spondylitis, you can use physical therapy such as cold to relieve inflammation, stiffness, and pain. The goal of treatment is to prevent complications and spinal deformity.
Treating Lower Left Back Pain at Home
Calling the doctor shouldn’t be your first step when you encounter any type of pain. When you have lower back pain, you can do a few things at home to try and tame the ache before the time comes when you must consult a doctor.
Firstly, if you feel pain, it’s best to take immediate rest. You don’t want to agitate the pain further by moving around too much. Lie down, take a nap, and try a painkiller or over-the-counter medication to see if that helps remove the pain. Some creams can help soothe the pain if it is directly connected to your muscles. Don’t assume that the worst is upon you. Most cases are just your body getting a little tired from work.
As mentioned above, the pain you experience may be a pull in your muscles, which will burn in the beginning but leave on its own. Take an ice pack to stop the swelling that may occur, or use a heating pad to aid blood regulation and relax your muscles.
If the pain lasts longer than a few weeks, then you may be staring down something that isn’t a muscle pull. Look for other symptoms while you attempt to treat it at home and see if any more clues pop up to indicate what you’re up against.
If it is a muscle strain, then there are other ways to help soothe your muscles when you’re encountering back pain, such as acupuncture, massage, and meditation. These treatments can be done by a professional and really help you relax and avoid further disturbances in your back.
Back pain can also be closely related to the occurrences in your digestive system, so it’s better to restrain yourself from heavy food items. Anything too saturated in fat, hard to digest, and plainly unhealthy isn’t something you want when you’re in pain.
Officially, there is no prescribed diet to follow, so experiment and see what makes your stomach feel better, quite like when you place an ice pack on the hurt area, sometimes your pain may subside when you have cold foods. This means ice cream and refrigerated snacks, cold fruits, and drinks are the best options. Otherwise, hot foods can be the solution you might be in search of. Soups, beverages, and warm pastries can also help.
Try not to indulge in hard and crunchy foods since they can irritate your digestive system if this is truly where the source of the issue is located.
If the back pain originates from movement and activity, then don’t sleep or lie down on your left side for a while. It is plausible that the pain associated with your left side comes from too much pressure and strain on your back during the day. Leaning over, sitting, and sleeping on your left side are all things you should stray from doing. If you cannot alter your position while resting, place a cushion or pillow underneath your left side to soften the impact.
In the final scenario, it’s just a matter of dealing with the pain. If you’ve grown up with a bad posture or you experienced a serious accident, there may be no way to conclude the pain. It can also happen when you grow older, and your body loses the peak condition it was once in.
When to See a Doctor
If you feel the following has happened or is happening to you, it’s best to see a doctor:
- Your back pain is following an incident such as falling, collapsing, or taking place after an accident.
- The pain remains constant after treatment and steadily gets worse
- Severe pain does not get better in 1–2 weeks
- The pain worse at night or while you are resting
- There is an overwhelming numbness in all areas beneath your pelvis
- A tingling sensation, numbness, and weakness in your legs related to your nerves.
- Loss of the bladder or bowel control
- Unexplained weight loss
- Have trouble moving the legs or loss of feeling in the legs
- Hign fever, fatigue, and weakness
Lower left back pain can be mild to extremely severe. It is best to see a doctor for accurate diagnosis and immediate treatment as the pain could be a sign of a severe medical condition. For mild cases, some natural treatments for back pain include chiropractic adjustments, regular full-body exercise, essential oils, OTC medications, Epsom salt bath, and improving posture. Consider sleeping with a pillow under your feet to help your back.