Lower Left Back Pain: Causes, Symptoms and Natural Treatments
Lower left back pain is more common than the right side low back pain. There are two types of pain, acute (sharp, burning pain) and chronic (dull, aching pain). The pain in lower left back does not only affect the back, but it can also affect your hip and the left leg.
Lower back pain, also called lumbago, is the fourth most common musculoskeletal concern in the United States. There are different causes of pain in the lower left back.
What Causes Lower Left Back Pain?
There are many causes of pain in lower left back. Some of the main causes of lower left back pain include:
Pregnancy and lower left back pain is very common for a couple of reasons. The first reason is weight gain. Weight gain creates stress for the lumbar spine. The second reason is the growing uterus creates pressure on nerves and other organs.
Lastly, the hormone estrogen makes a chemical called “laxin” which relaxes and loosens the ligaments in the lower back (1).
2. Lower Back Muscle Strain
Lower back muscle strain is caused by body trauma or improper or overuse of muscles. For example, lifting improperly is a contributor to this type of strain, which affects the ligaments and tendons in the lower left back.
This is described as a “stretch injury,” and it is called this name because of continuous pulling of ligament, tendon, or muscle.
Left side lower back pain could be from normal “wear and tear” the body goes through as it ages. The protein and water content in the cartilage changes as the body ages, and it makes the cartilage thinner and weaker. Cartilage acts as cushions in between each vertebra, and aging leads to degeneration in the spin (2).
4. Herniated Disc and Sciatica
A herniated disc refers to the cushions in between each vertebra, and this is when the disc ruptures or sticks out of place. The symptoms of a herniated disc are lower back pain left side, burning sensation, and extreme discomfort.
These symptoms happen because of another condition called sciatica. Sciatica is when the lower vertebrae wrap around the sciatic nerve.
5. Kidney Stones and Urinary Issues
One of the kidney stone symptoms is a lower left back pain that comes in waves because the stone is blocking the urine flow. Other urinary issues, like UTI (urinary tract infections), are also associated with lower left back pain.
6. Poor posture
Lower left back pain above the hips happens with poor posture as stress is continuously applied in the lower lumbar region and hip flexors. Pain from poor posture is a common ailment in office workers and jobs with desk restrictions.
Obesity ties in with lower back pain and poor posture because these are some of the consequences of obesity. The extra pounds put additional stress on the back muscles and increases load in the spinal column.
Tumors are often found in the pelvis, bone of the spine, or spinal cord. These tumors can be malignant or benign.
9. Reproductive System Issues
For women, back pain related to reproductive system issues happen because of a problem with the left fallopian tube or ovary. Pain develops from a cyst, twisted fallopian tube, or an infection. For men, pain can happen from a testicular infection, tumor, or twisted testicle.
10. Spinal Stenosis
In spinal stenosis, the spinal canal narrows and creates pressure on the spinal cord. The common causes of spinal stenosis are herniated disc, arthritis, or bone spur formation.
Diverticulitis is a digestive issue where bacteria gather in pouches, and it forms an infection. This is related to back pain because the bags can accumulate in the colon walls.
Lower Left Back Pain Symptoms
Besides extreme discomfort and burning sensation in the lower left back, there are other symptoms associated with lower left back pain. This type of back pain comes in different forms, such as shooting pain, dull ache, or excruciating stabbing pain, and it could be continuous or incremental.
Sudden or aggravated movements trigger pain, which can spread from the back to the foot. After being exposed to the pain on a long term basis, the lower back can experience skin numbness or weakness which makes it hard to lift.
Other symptoms include problems standing erect and tenderness in the pain area.
What Should You Do When Your Lower Left Back Hurts?
The best task to do when lower left back pain is present is to downgrade to low-impact exercise temporarily.
Some examples of low impact exercises are walking and water aerobics. Also, it is best to apply an ice pack to the pain area for 15-20min.
An ice pack reduces soreness, swelling, and inflammation. It may seem common sense to stop all activities until your back is better, but ceasing all activities could result in loss of mobility, strength, and endurance.
Natural Remedies for Lower Left Back Pain
1. Yoga and Exercise
Yoga and exercise have been proven to be a short-term natural remedy for lower left back pain. It helps increase mobility in the body, and some yoga moves that helps the lower back are cat/cow, v-ups, downward facing dog, and planks.
Incorporating both cardio and strength training exercises assist the body in maintaining a healthy weight, fighting inflammation, and improves posture.
2. Chiropractic Adjustments
Chiropractic adjustments help realign the vertebrae into its proper place in the spinal column. This kind of change has been proven to be safe, effective, and drugless for both acute and chronic lower back pain.
3. Soft Tissue and Massage Therapy
There are a couple of types of soft tissue therapies which are active release technique, Graston technique, and massages. This kind of treatment helps with the underlying causes of lower left back pain, such as poor posture and muscle weakness. Soft tissue therapy helps activate dormant muscles from past injuries.
4. Anti-Inflammatory Diet
Certain foods can inflame joints and muscles in the body. An anti-inflammatory diet can help prevent lower left back pain from coming back. Following are the items to avoid in the anti-inflammatory diet:
- Processed foods and drinks
- Added sugars
- Refined vegetable oils
- Tobacco and alcohol
It is best to add more natural, anti-inflammatory, anti-aging foods. Those items are water, omega-3 fats, clean and lean proteins, high-fiber foods, and potassium rich foods. Transitioning to an anti-inflammatory diet helps add nutrients to deprived spinal tissue and increases blood flow.
5. Fix Negative Cognitive Behavior
Examples of negative cognitive behaviors are anxiety, stress, and fear. These types of actions have physical pain as one of their symptoms. This happens because of circuits that process pain and emotions overlap in the brain.
Cognitive behavior therapy is a tool to help with this behavior. Other stress relief techniques include deep breathing, meditating, and journal writing.
6. Herbal Therapy
Certain herbs carry the same properties as human-made drugs. For example, Willow Bark contains salicylates, which does the same job as Aspirin (3). Devil’s claw ranked high as a pain reliever (4). Other herbs include Boswellia, Grape seed extract, ginger, cayenne, alfalfa, and yucca root.
7. Replace Mattress
If a mattress is 6-8 years old, it is best to replace it because the coils have worn out. A sign of an old mattress is sagging. Also, studies show people with lower back pain do much better with medium-firm mattresses instead of firm versions.
8. Fix Flat Feet
Flat feet refers to the overpronation of ankles. This results in more load on the lower spine and muscles compensating for the additional work. The best way to treat this is to install orthopedics in shoes or replace worn out shoes.
Lifestyle Changes to Treat Lower Left Back Pain
Aside from natural remedies, there are some lifestyle changes to consider to lessen pain or to stop the cycle of lower left back pain. Here are some lifestyle adjustments to consider:
- Modify daily activities: Be aware of lifting heavy objects correctly.
- Improve your posture: Stretching, walking, and sitting up straight helps with posture.
- Manage your weight: Extra weight puts stress on the lower back.
- Stop smoking: Smoking contributes to degenerative disc disease.
- Manage stress: Stress affects muscles, and it creates muscle tension.
- Change environment: This includes changing out old mattresses and position of sleep.
When to See a Doctor?
There are some indicators of lower left back pain which prompt a visit to the physician. Those signs are numbness, loss of bladder and bowel, and progressive weakness. An individual should see a doctor if he or she has one or more of the following also:
- Back pain is a severe blow of injury
- The family history of cancer
- Burning while urination and/or blood in urine
- Pain which travels down below the knees
- Unintentional rapid weight loss
- Use of drugs injected into veins
- Pain that worsens while lying down
- History of back pain, but the current pain is worse