Low back pain is commonly experienced by many people, some people may feel pain in the left lower back. Left lower back pain is experienced in the left side of lower region of the back. It includes left side of the spine, lumbar and lower spinal vertebrae, areas on the left side of the spine and the hip region which is rested when seating.
Pain in left lower back may be related to falling, sudden jerking movements, lifting of heavy weights, accidents or sport injuries. Left lower back pain can occur due to musculoskeletal conditions or may be related to internal organs.
Causes of Left Lower Back Pain
Left lower back pain is influenced by common causes like:
Poor posture, sitting for long hours, awkward movements, excessive use of lower back muscles causing overuse injuries or inappropriate ways of lifting weights, etc. Being overweight and sedentary lifestyle can contribute to lower back pain.
Left Lower Back Pain Caused Due to Muscle Strain
Stretching of ligaments, tendons, muscle pull and muscle spasms are commonest causes of left lower back pain. When structures on the left side are affected, it causes pain in left lower back region. It can occur due to injuries, aging or repetitive activities causing overstretching of tissues.
Lumbar Injuries Causing Pain in Left Lower Back
Left lower back pain can be caused due to injury to bones, joints, spinal vertebrae, muscles, ligaments, soft tissues and blood vessels in the lower back region. Fractures of spinal bones and those of hip joint on the left. Compression fractures are common in those with weak bones due to osteoporosis or immunosuppressant medications. Sports injuries, direct blows, falls, accidents, etc. can cause damage to these structures.
Left Lower Back Pain Caused Due to Intervertebral Disc Prolapse
Protrusion or herniation of intervertebral disc, annular tears and bulging of discs are some of the common cause of pain in left lower back. Discs that act as protective cushions in between the spinal vertebrae, sometimes protrude from their original position, cause severe and sudden pain in left lower back. This commonly occurs while bending or lifting heavy objects, injuries or due to gradual wear and tear.
Degenerative Disorders that Can Cause Lower Left Back Pain
Joint conditions and aging related problems like lumbar spondylosis, osteoarthritis and other degenerative conditions can cause left lower back pain. Other forms of arthritis like rheumatoid arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, etc. affecting lower back and disorders of the sacroiliac joint on the left too can cause pain in left lower back region.
Left Lower Back Pain Caused Due to Sciatica
Sciatica and nerve related conditions causing nerve compression, particularly on the left side can cause left lower back pain which can extend into the left buttocks. It can be associated with numbness and tingling in the left leg. If the condition affects both sides, both legs may be involved. Injury or damage to a nerve in the lower back can cause sharp, severe left lower back pain.
Spinal Problems that Cause Left Lower Back Pain
Conditions of spine like spinal stenosis which is narrowing of the spinal canal, can cause left lower back pain. It can cause nerve compression symptoms like burning sensation, numbness and tingling and sometimes weakness. Congenital or acquired conditions, which affect the curvatures of spine like scoliosis, kyphosis, when the left side is involved, can cause left lower back pain, if the condition worsens. Infections of the spine, tuberculosis, etc., conditions like spina bifida and certain types of cancers affecting the spine, etc. can cause pain in left lower back.
Left Lower Back Pain Caused Due to Renal Infections and Kidney Stones
Pain in left lower back can also occur due to renal problems like kidney stones, infection in the kidneys or urinary tract infections, other kidney disorders and urologic diseases. Swelling in kidneys, blocking of urine, reverse flow of urine, etc. can cause severe pain in the middle and lower back region. These are associated with other urinary symptoms like difficulty in urination, burning or painful urination, etc.
Menstrual Pain and Pregnancy
In women, menstrual pain, menstrual irregularities, pregnancy related causes, or gynecological disorders like pelvic inflammatory conditions, uterine problems can cause left lower back pain. It can extend to lower abdomen and may be associated with relevant symptoms.
Other Causes of Pain in Left Lower Back
Other conditions affecting the joints, certain autoimmune disorders, some infections including pelvic infections, tumors and spread of cancers, etc. too can cause left lower back pain, ranging from dull aching pain to sudden left lower back pain.
Symptoms of Left Lower Back Pain
Left lower back pain can be acute pain of sharp, shooting type, while sometimes it can be dull aching pain covering a wide area. Pain can last for a short span, which is acute back pain or it can last longer as in chronic back pain. Left lower back pain can sometimes make a person feel weak and unable to stand, bend, walk or continue with the activity.
Left lower back pain may be felt with a burning, stabbing sensation and can also be accompanied with numbness and tingling in lower limbs. It may be experienced after a specific activity or may worsen on making further movements.
What to Watch For?
If lower back pain is severe, with inability to move, immediate medical care is needed. If it is associated with history of injury or if it presents with weakness of lower limbs, loss of control of bowel and bladder or sudden fever with chills, immediate medical attention should be provided. It is advisable that pregnant women seek medical advice if they experience left lower back pain and involve in physical exercises under supervision.
Treatment & Management of Left Lower Back Pain
Left lower back pain is managed with rest and immobilization for an initial period with back support. Ice or heat compresses can be used. Treatment depends on the underlying cause. Pain killers and anti-inflammatory medicines are given to ease the pain in the left lower back. For joint and muscle conditions causing left lower back pain, physical therapy may be required with therapeutic modalities and exercises. Infections are treated with appropriate anti-biotics.