What Could Be Causing Your Lower Left Back Pain?

A man in a grey shirt clutches the lower left side of his back.
  • Back pain on the lower left side could be caused by something as simple as a muscle spasm or as serious as permanent kidney damage.

  • Kidney stones and infections are some of the most common causes of lower left back pain.

  • You should see a doctor if your lower back pain is persistent and doesn’t improve with over-the-counter (OTC) pain medications.

What Causes Lower Left Back Pain?

There are several reasons why you may be experiencing pain on the left side of your lower back. Some of the most common causes of lower back pain on the left side include:

  • Muscle strain or muscle spasms
  • Kidney stones
  • A kidney infection
  • A herniated disc
  • Urinary tract infections (UTIs)
  • Sacroiliac joint dysfunction
A woman in a white shirt clenches her face in pain while she grabs the lower left side of her back and leans on the side of a couch.

Kidney infections

Kidney infection is one of the most common causes of lower back pain on the left side. This is a type of urinary tract infection that affects the kidneys.

An infection of the kidneys is caused by bacteria traveling up to the kidneys from the bladder or urethra. Some common symptoms of a kidney infection are:

  • Mild to severe pain in the lower left side of the back
  • Pelvic pain
  • Blood in the urine, also known as hematuria
  • Fever and chills
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Urine that has a strong smell or appears cloudy
  • Weakness and fatigue
  • Loss of appetite

It is worth noting that pain on one or both sides of the lower back could indicate an infection of the kidneys, as these organs are located on the left and right sides.

It’s important to see a medical professional if you think you have a kidney infection, as it could lead to serious complications, including permanent kidney damage.

Kidney stones

Another common cause of lower left back pain is the presence of a kidney stone (or several stones) anywhere in the urinary tract.

Kidney stone pain can include a sharp pain in the back, side, or just below the ribs. Other symptoms of kidney stones include:

  • Intermittent waves of pain
  • Groin and abdominal pain
  • Painful urination
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Frequent urination
  • Difficulty passing urine

The symptoms of kidney stones will vary depending on the size and location of the stone within the urinary tract.

Most kidney stones will pass through the urinary tract on their own. However, larger stones may require medical attention.

Sacroiliac joint dysfunction

This condition refers to an abnormality in the sacroiliac joints. These joints link the lower spine and pelvis and they play a major role in helping your spine support your body's weight.

Sacroiliac joint dysfunction condition is usually characterized by:

  • A dull ache or stabbing sensation in the lower back
  • Hip pain
  • Difficulty walking or standing
  • Pain that radiates into the buttocks, left upper thigh, and legs
  • Pain that is aggravated by standing, walking, or sitting for extended periods

Issues with the sacroiliac joint are commonly experienced by pregnant women and those with arthritis.

It’s important to see a health care professional if you experience lower back pain accompanied by hip pain and trouble walking or standing.

A trainer holds a blue ice pack to the lower back of a woman laying on a table.

How to Treat Lower Left Back Pain

Lower back pain on the left side of your body can be treated at home. But, it’s important to seek medical attention if these treatments don’t alleviate your symptoms.

Some common treatments for lower back pain on the left side of your body include:

  • Applying ice or heat to the affected area
  • OTC medications, including pain medication
  • Massage or physical therapy if the pain is caused by a muscle strain, poor posture, or soft-tissue damage
  • In some cases, surgery may be required (e.g. to remove a large kidney stone)

When Should I See a Doctor About Lower Left Back Pain?

Although lower back pain could result from something as simple as muscle strain, it could also be an indication of a more serious condition that requires immediate medical care.

You should see a doctor if you have:

  • Leg pain, in addition to lower back pain, as this can indicate that you have a herniated disc
  • An intense or stabbing pain that OTC pain relievers and treatments cannot manage
  • A fever or chills that last several days
  • Numbness or tingling in the legs or feet
  • Loss of bowel or bladder control
  • Blood in your urine
  • A medical history of chronic pain

A doctor will conduct a physical exam to diagnose the cause of your pain and prescribe treatment. You may also need blood or urine tests to determine if you have a kidney or urinary tract infection.

Where Can I Learn More About Lower Left Back Pain?

If you are concerned about lower back pain on your left side, you can schedule a telehealth appointment with a board-certified physician or nurse from the comfort of your home.

Head over to LifeMD to schedule a telehealth appointment today.

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This article is intended for informational purposes only and should not be considered medical advice. Consult a healthcare professional or call a doctor in the case of a medical emergency.

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