Lower Left Back Pain:
A One-Sided Proposition

lower left back pain, arthritis, muscle strain

You can picture someone with lower left back pain . . . left hand holding their back right above the hip. It's a well recognized stance, indicating the back hurts. The cause of acute and/or Chronic back pain may be due to conditions in the spine itself, or to injury or stress in the muscles around the spine.

It's not unusual to experience back pain in just one side of the lower back. Even walking with a lopsided gait can lead to back problems. This occurs frequently with people who injure a hip or knee on one side, or have joint arthritis, and then change their walking style to reduce the pain. Most lower left back pain that occurs in the back is due to muscle strain.

Spinal imbalance can cause the lower left side of your back to hurt. But so can many other medical conditions including bone fractures, arthritis, and herniated discs. Though muscle strain or injury can hurt, it's the easiest problem to manage compared to bone fractures or arthritis.

Disc, Muscle, or Bone!

The most common causes of lower left back pain include the following:

  • Sacroiliac joint injury or arthritis
  • Muscle damage in the lower back
  • Herniated disc
  • Osteoarthritis in the lower back
  • Spinal stenosis causing the spinal canal to narrow
  • Vertebrae fractures
  • Muscle tenseness brought on by stress
  • Compression fractures due to osteoporosis
  • Disease

When pain occurs only on one side of the back, it can sometimes be difficult to determine the exact cause. What can feel like muscle pain may actually be pain radiating along nerves extending from the spine. In many situations though, the cause of the pain is due to problems with the muscle itself.

The complaint of lower left back pain or lower lumbar back pain is among the most common medical problems. To begin on the positive side, patients must understand that most episodes of back pain resolve, and usually within a few weeks. Unfortunately, back pain can be among the most difficult and frustrating problems for patients and their doctors.

Working on Prevention

When reading the list of back pain causes, it's easy to see that a program to prevent back pain can address many of the causes:

  • Exercise regularly to strengthen the back muscle and supporting spine structure
  • Walk and sit with good posture
  • Implement measures to prevent osteoporosis including taking nutritional supplements
  • Manage stress to prevent chronic muscle tenseness
  • Maintain a normal weight
  • Wear comfortable low-heeled shoes that keep the back in alignment
  • Remember to lift objects properly to avoid muscle strain
  • Manage arthritis with a treatment plan that includes nutrition, exercise and methods for reducing swelling and inflammation

The most frustrating aspect in treatment of back pain is that there is no "magic bullet." Most individuals recover completely by simply avoiding strain to their spine. Patients often find help from ice, heat, and medications.

If the basic steps do not alleviate back pain, the next step is to seek medical evaluation. Depending on the symptoms and the length of the problem, your physician can properly organize a treatment schedule.

Lower left back pain can often be prevented with some careful due diligence on your part.

Understanding the cause of your lower left back pain is the key to proper treatment. Because back pain is sometimes difficult to treat, a better understanding of the causes of this problem will assist patients in their recovery from back pain.

Causes of Back Pain

Lumbar Muscle Strain
Muscle strains are the most common cause of low back pain. Patients may or may not remember the initial event that triggered their muscle spasm, but the good news is that most episodes of back pain from muscle strains resolve completely within a few weeks.

Ruptured Disc
A ruptured intervertebral disc, also called a herniated disc, is another common cause of back pain. How to treat the back pain from a herniated disc depends on the particular individual and situation.

Discogenic Back Pain
Discogenic back pain is thought to be a common cause of low back pain. Discogenic back pain is the result of damage to the intervertabral disc, but without disc herniation. Diagnosis of discogenic back pain may require the use of a discogram.

Spinal Stenosis
Spinal stenosis causes back pain in the aging population. As we age, the spinal canal can become constricted, due in part to arthritis and other conditions. If the spinal canal becomes too tight, back pain can be the result.

Lumbar Spine Arthritis
Arthritis most commonly affects joints such as the knees and fingers. However, arthritis can affect any joint in the body, including the small joints of the spine. Arthritis of the spine can cause back pain with movement.

Spondylolisthesis causes back pain because adjacent vertebra become unstable and begin to "slip." The most common cause of spondylolisthesis is due to degenerative changes causing loss of the normal stabilizing structures of the spinal column. If the spine becomes unstable enough, back pain can become a problem.

Osteoporosis can cause a number of orthopedic problems and generalized discomfort. Back pain from osteoporosis is most commonly related to compression fractures of the vertebra. Osteoporosis causes weak bones and can lead to these fractures.

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