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Professionally endorsed

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Lower Left Back Pain: What It Is and the Treatment Solutions

Woman holding her left side of the back while sitting

Lower left back pain refers to discomfort or pain experienced on the left side of the body. This type of pain can range from mild to severe and may be acute or chronic. The causes of this pain may vary, such as muscle strain, infections, or underlying medical conditions. Thus, treatments can also differ. The commonly used pain relief methods include medication and non-medication approaches. It is vital to get a diagnosis to apply the suitable method.

Back pain is a common ailment that many people experience daily. However, lower back pain on the left side can indicate specific conditions that need medical attention. Without proper treatment, the underlying cause may worsen. Therefore, understanding the factors involved can help manage the symptoms more effectively and improve the quality of life. This article will delve into the characteristics and causes of lower back pain and the common remedies, including medications and home treatments.

What is a Lower Left Back Pain?

Understanding the nature of lower left back pain is crucial in identifying and addressing the condition. This type of pain typically occurs between the bottom of the rib cage and the top of the pelvis on the left side of the spine. It can radiate to other areas, such as the buttocks or thighs.

Left-side pain in the lower back can happen suddenly or develop gradually over time. The common symptoms are a dull ache, a sharp or stabbing pain, or even a burning sensation. Moreover, the intensity of the pain can vary from person to person, and it may worsen with certain activities or movements.

It is advisable to consult a healthcare professional for severe pain without a known cause. Also, it is recommended to seek medical help if the pain persists for more than a week and disrupts normal activities. Additionally, individuals should watch out for additional symptoms accompanying the pain, such as numbness or tingling in the legs, shortness of breath, unexplained weight loss, and loss of bowel or bladder control.

Causes of the Condition

  • Muscle strain or sprain: Injury to the muscles and ligaments on the left side of the lower back. It can occur due to activities like heavy lifting.
  • Sacroiliac (SI) joint dysfunction: Injury, inflammation, or excessive movement of the SI joint can lead to lower back pain.
  • Kidney problems: These include kidney stones and kidney infections that can lead to back pain and symptoms like fever and frequent urination.
  • Sciatica: Irritation of the sciatic nerves in the lower back that run down to the legs.
  • Inflammatory diseases: These include ulcerative colitis, pancreatitis, fibroids, and endometriosis that cause chronic lower back and pelvic pain.

Woman lying in bed experiencing lower left back pain

Prescription Medications to Alleviate Lower Left Back Pain

Taking medications is often the first-line treatment when it comes to managing pain. Over-the-counter pain relievers are suitable for acute pain with mild to moderate symptoms. However, for sharp lower left back pain, a healthcare professional may prescribe stronger painkillers. It is vital to follow the dosage instructions of a doctor to ensure efficacy and avoid potential adverse effects.

A common type of prescription medication is Nonsteroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs). This drug class works on reducing inflammation by blocking specific enzymes that produce prostaglandins. Examples of prescribed NSAIDs are naproxen sodium, diclofenac, and celecoxib. They can be taken orally, applied topically, or intravenously.

In some cases, muscle relaxants may be prescribed to help alleviate left-side pain caused by muscle spasms or tension. This type of medication targets the central nervous system and induces relaxation. Furthermore, a healthcare provider may prescribe opioids, a class of strong pain relievers. It works by binding to opioid receptors in the brain and spinal cord to block pain signals.

Potential Side Effects

While prescription medications can help alleviate back pain, it is essential to be aware of the potential side effects. The commonly associated side effects of NSAIDs are stomach upset, heartburn, and gastrointestinal bleeding. Long-term use of NSAIDs can also increase the risk of heart attack or stroke.

Muscle relaxants may cause drowsiness, dizziness, difficulty urinating and dry mouth. Meanwhile, opioids can lead to constipation, nausea, respiratory depression, and the likelihood of developing dependence. It is crucial to discuss potential side effects with a healthcare provider and weigh the benefits against the risks before starting any medication.

A woman assisting the use of a wireless TENS machine on the left side of the lower back

Natural Remedies to Ease Lower Left Back Pain

In addition to medications, natural remedies that can help ease lower left back pain are available. The most common method is physical therapy. It involves exercises that strengthen the back and abdominal muscles. Low-impact physical activities such as swimming, yoga, and Pilates can help improve flexibility. Furthermore, incorporating gentle stretches into daily routines can help alleviate muscle tension.

Another popular method is the hot or cold therapy. Applying a heat pack or hot shower can increase blood circulation, reduce inflammation, and provide relief. On the other hand, an ice pack or cold compress numbs the affected area and reduces pain and tenderness. Moreover, massage therapy can target specific muscles and relax tight muscles. This is beneficial for conditions like osteoarthritis and ankylosing spondylitis.

Other natural alternatives include acupuncture, herbal remedies, and electrical stimulation. One of the widely used therapies is Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS). It uses a portable device placed on the pain area. Likewise, simple measures like maintaining good posture and proper body mechanics can help further strain on the lower back.

A Closer Look at TENS

TENS therapy is a non-invasive method of pain relief using mild electrical impulses. A TENS machine consists of adhesive electrode pads that people place near the source of pain. It transmits electrical pulses, stimulating the spinal nerves to block pain signals from reaching the brain. TENS also triggers the release of endorphins.

The TENS machine has programmable settings to provide tailored pain relief. Hence, individuals can adjust the frequency, intensity, and duration of the pulses based on their comfort level. Additionally, it is beneficial for various conditions, including acute and chronic pain, without the risk of adverse side effects or complications.


Lower left back pain can be debilitating, affecting daily life activities. Many factors can cause it, including soft tissue injury, chronic conditions, and infections of internal organs. Thus, it is vital to get a proper diagnosis to determine the appropriate pain relief and medical care. For sharp pain, a doctor may prescribe medications. However, this may come with side effects. Discussing these factors with a health professional is essential before starting any medication.

Individuals who want to avoid the intake of medicines may consider natural remedies such as physical therapy, hot or cold therapy, massage, and TENS therapy. In particular, TENS is a safe method that can be used anytime. The portable device is easy to use and does not require professional supervision. All in all, the treatment methods for left-side pain can vary based on its cause. Trying out different techniques can help find the most effective relief.

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