Lower back pain on the left side is a common condition that affects many people. It can cause a great deal of discomfort and even disability in some cases. Fortunately, most conditions are not serious and can be relieved by a variety of methods. The common causes are muscle sprain, strain, spinal stenosis, and other chronic conditions. Individuals can get pain relief by taking pain medications, physical therapy, and medical interventions.
Identifying the underlying cause of back pain is vital to managing and treating it effectively. Backaches that suddenly appear or severe pain that persists for several days may necessitate medical consultation. A doctor can run diagnostic tests to detect the cause of pain and recommend appropriate treatments. In this article, we will delve into the leading causes of left-sided lower back pain, the available home treatments, as well as the alternative options to address it.
Causes of Lower Back Pain on the Left Side
The reasons for lower back pain on the left side range from acute to chronic causes. One leading source is muscle strain. It occurs when the muscles are overstretched or torn. Sprain is a similar type of injury that affects the ligaments around the joint and causes swelling. Another common cause is spinal stenosis. It is a condition where the spinal canal narrows, leading to nerve compression.
Another possible cause is inflammatory conditions that affect the lower back. Examples are arthritis and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Arthritis is a joint disorder leading to pain and stiffness. On the other hand, IBDs, such as ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease, cause abdominal pain and may radiate to the back.
Moreover, some conditions affecting internal organs contribute to back pain on the left side. This includes kidney stones, kidney infections, and other diseases in the reproductive organs. A urinary tract infection on the left kidney is another factor. In addition, pelvic pain from endometriosis may radiate to the lower back.
Risk Factors for Sprains and Strains
- Poor posture and improper body mechanics during heavy lifting and bending that affect the spinal discs.
- No warm-up or stretching before doing an exercise or strenuous activities
- Poor conditioning. Weak back and core muscles can increase the risk of injuries as they are less able to support the spine and stabilise the joints.
- Previous spinal injury. Once a ligament or muscle has been stretched, it becomes more susceptible to further damage and muscle weakness.
- Extra weight or obesity. An excessive load add stress to the lower back muscles and joints.
- Muscle overuse. Repetitive motions and activities can increase the risk of strains, including sports injuries.
Home Treatment Methods for Lower Back Pain on the Left Side
There are several home treatment options to relieve the lower back pain on the left side. Firstly, people may take pain medications. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are pain relievers that are available over the counter. NSAIDs like ibuprofen can help reduce pain and swelling. For more severe pain, stronger painkillers may be prescribed. It includes opioids and muscle relaxants.
Secondly, heat and cold therapy is another pain relief. A hot water bottle or electric heating pad helps reduce stiffness and relax tight muscles. Alternatively, cold packs can reduce swelling by restricting the blood vessels. Alternating hot and cold treatments promotes faster healing and recovery of soft tissue damage.
Lastly, people can also employ physical therapy, especially for those with chronic pain or injuries. This includes gentle exercise and stretching to improve flexibility and mobility. This can help strengthen the core and back muscles, making them less prone to injury to structure along the spinal column. Physiotherapists may suggest yoga and Pilates movements that are suitable for the condition.
When to See a Doctor
It is vital to seek medical attention when the one-sided back pain persists for more than two weeks. This includes if the pain is accompanied by other symptoms such as fever, numbness, and weakness in the legs. Other symptoms to watch out for include unexplained weight loss and the loss of bowel or bladder control and bloody urine.
A doctor or pain specialist often runs physical examinations to get a proper diagnosis and create a treatment plan. In cases of larger stones in the kidney, specific treatments like shockwave therapy can help break them up. Moreover, nerve blocks may also be prescribed.
Using TENS as an Alternative Relief for Lower Back Pain on the Left Side
TENS (Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation) is an alternative relief option for lower back pain on the left side. This type of treatment involves attaching small electrodes to the skin near the painful area. It then delivers a low-voltage electrical current to help block pain signals from reaching the brain. Another way is to stimulate the release of endorphins, the natural painkilling hormones of the body.
The natural approach of TENS therapy for pain relief minimises the need for drugs which can have side effects. It also reduces the need for surgeries. Furthermore, TENS does not have adverse reactions or lasting aftereffects. It can be used as often as needed without the risk of complications. Thus, it is a safer alternative to pain medications or other invasive treatments.
While TENS may be effective, it is important to follow several safety precautions. It is best to consult a health professional before using a TENS machine. The therapy is not suitable for people with heart conditions, epilepsy, cardiac pacemakers, and pregnant women. Additionally, identify the correct location for electrode placement and avoid sensitive areas.
How to Operate TENS
To use a TENS machine, place the adhesive electrode pads on the pain area. Position the electrodes on the left side of the lower back, specifically on either side of the most painful spot. It is important to clean and dry the skin to ensure good contact.
Once the pads are in place, turn on the TENS unit and adjust the settings. Users can set the frequency to high or low, depending on their type of pain. In addition, start with a low intensity and gradually increase it until it reaches a comfortable tingling sensation. Set the treatment time for 15 to 30 minutes.
Lower back pain on the left side is a common problem that can be caused by minor injuries, poor conditioning, and improper lifting techniques. In other cases, it can be due to an underlying medical condition, such as kidney stones, spinal issues, and inflammatory disorders. These conditions may range from mild to debilitating. Fortunately, there are several home remedies that can provide effective pain relief. This includes NSAIDs, hot and cold therapy, and physical therapy.
For individuals who want to avoid medications, TENS therapy offers a drug-free and non-invasive approach. It works by blocking pain signals and stimulating endorphin production to reduce discomfort. However, it is important to seek professional advice before using a TENS machine and follow safety precautions. Lastly, consult a pain management specialist if the back pain does not improve or worsen with additional symptoms. A doctor can assess the cause of the pain and recommend an appropriate treatment.