Back Pain in Lower Left Side – Common and Not So Common Causes

by LMatthews on February 18, 2013

lower left sided back pain

Poor work posture or an ectopic pregnancy?

Lower left-side back pain has a number of causes, some more serious than others and some warranting immediate medical attention. How do you know when back pain in the lower left side is a medical emergency? The short answer is, you don’t. The longer answer? Read on.

Acute back pain in the lower left side can be a result of nerve tissue damage, muscle problems, disc herniation and spinal stenosis, and even sciatic nerve pain. In most cases, lower back pain is caused by unusual and strenuous movements. Think about a time you got carried away weeding the garden, or when you had a particularly busy delivery day at work, when you fell asleep twisted up on the couch, or when you looked after two toddlers and seemed to constantly be picking things up and carrying them around. Even wearing new shoes with higher heels than normal can lead to an altered and unusual posture and extra strain on the back, causing pain the next day. This is largely due to all the tiny movements your back muscles make to keep you upright and which, over time, cause muscle fatigue and pain.

Causes of Left-Sided Lower Back Pain

Chronic pain in the lower back on the left side may, however, be a sign of a more general musculoskeletal imbalance, a condition such as fibromyalgia, degenerative disc disease, spinal stenosis or a neurological issue. Some cases of back pain in the lower left side are connected to gastrointestinal problems, kidney dysfunction, urinary tract infections, endometriosis and even liver disease, making it very important to seek medical attention for such symptoms.

DDD and Lower Back Pain

One of the most common causes of lower left-sided back pain is, however, compression in the spine. Shrinking of the disc height and the resulting spinal stenosis and pinched nerves can cause symptoms of sciatica as well as general back and leg pain. A herniated or ruptured disc may cause acute symptoms, especially when standing upright or bending backwards. Where lower back pain is relieved by bending forwards the likelihood is that the back is the source of the problem as this opens up the spine to relieve nerve compression.

Kidneys and Lower Left-Sided Back Pain


Any acute lower left-sided back pain warrants investigation, especially if the pain is severe and debilitating. This could be a sign of a kidney stone blocking normal renal function, which would require medical treatment to help dissolve the calcium accumulation. A urinary tract infection that has travelled up towards the kidney can also be a cause of lower left-sided back pain and, again, this would warrant medical attention to reduce the risk of permanent kidney damage. Additionally, those suffering recurrent UTIs should discuss preventative measures with their physicians to avoid further incidences as far as possible.

Lower Back Pain, Pregnancy and IBS

Patients with recurrent lower left-sided back pain accompanied by a swollen belly and constipation or diarrhoea may wish to talk to their physician about irritable bowel syndrome. Trapped gas can cause back pain, with a combination of peppermint tea, charcoal supplements and simply lying with the legs and lower back elevated can all help to expel gas. Unfortunately, back pain can, itself, bring on IBS by contributing to stress, compromising the GI system through medications, and by affecting a person’s ability to adequately nourish themselves. In rare cases, lower left-sided back pain may indicate an ectopic pregnancy, which can be extremely dangerous. Such pregnancies may also cause cramping, bleeding, and dizziness but many women are not yet aware that they are pregnant as ectopic pregnancy symptoms can arise before morning sickness or a missed period. Women of childbearing age who suspect they may be pregnant and who suffer such symptoms should seek immediate medical attention.

Ergonomics and Lower Left-Sided Back Pain

A more common cause of lower back pain in the left side is simply posture. Sitting at the same desk every day, with the same position in the car or on the train on the commute to work, can all mean that the same muscles are strained again and again, leading to postural imbalance and pain. Spinal misalignment can be caused even by having your computer screen set slightly off to one side, or by constantly reaching down to get your stapler from a low drawer. Having an ergonomic assessment of your workplace might highlight some incredibly easy steps to take that eliminate your daily back pain almost overnight.

Treating Lower Left-Sided Back Pain

Lower left-sided back pain can, in summary, be caused by a variety of conditions and problems as can bilateral back pain. Some of these require urgent medical attention and some are likely to be helped by making simple changes to your daily routine. Acupuncture, acupressure, gentle massage, chiropractic care, natural anti-inflammatories and even back surgery may be recommended to alleviate the pain. Where lower left-sided back pain becomes severe it is important to talk to your physician to determine the cause and access proper treatments.

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: