Back pain, regardless of the cause, is an incredibly common medical problem. As a matter of fact, it is estimated that 60-80% of adults will experience back pain at one point in their lives. And anyone who has gone through a “back attack” knows just how painful and debilitating this condition can be – it is no wonder that it is a leading cause of missed work days globally.
There are a number of underlying reasons for lower left back pain, which is actually more common than right lower back pain. It is important to understand what these causes are because it will affect the way the problem is treated.
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Symptoms Associated with Lower Back Pain
Lower back pain itself can vary from a dull, throbbing ache to pain that is sharper and more stabbing. Sometimes, the type of pain can alternate between the two. Also, depending on the cause of the problem, there can be other signs and symptoms that accompany back pain, including pain that can radiate to the hip or down the leg, nausea and/or vomiting, fever and changes in urination (such as pain while urinating or having to urinate more frequently than normal).
It is important to report these extra signs and symptoms to your doctor, because it can help to diagnose and then begin to treat the problem.
Common of Causes of Lower Back Pain
Left lower back pain can happen for a number of reasons, but the most common causes are listed below:
- Pregnancy. The weight of the growing baby and the increased levels of estrogen and relaxin which loosen back ligaments both can lead to lower back pain during gestation.
- Lower back strain. This is one of the most common causes of back pain and is usually considered to be a stretch injury or due to overuse of muscles.
- Herniated discs or other vertebral problems. The spine is made up of a series of vertebrae connected by the spinal cord. If the vertebrae are damaged, bulge out or if the cartilage between them wears down, this can put pressure on the nerves and cause a lot of pain.
- Shingles. This infection, which can happen to anyone who has had chicken pox, gets into the nervous system and can often cause pain and raised, red wheals on the back and sides.
- Kidney problems. Kidney infections or the formation of kidney stones can also cause severe lower back pain.
Let’s take a look at how these different problems can be treated.
Treatments for Lower Back Pain
Once the underlying cause of the left lower back pain is diagnosed, a plan of care can be developed that will help resolve the problem. Below are treatments for the common causes for lower back pain:
- Pregnancy. Pregnant women who work on their posture, sleep on their side with a pillow between their knees, and do pelvic exercises and other stretches can find some relief. Warm or cold applications can also alleviate the pain.
- Lower back strain. Rest is the most important way to help with lower back strain, but over-the-counter medications like ibuprofen and cold applications can also help.
- Vertebral problems. A combination of physical therapy with pain medications and steroids can help improve the situation. However, sometimes surgery might be necessary.
- Shingles. Antiviral medications like acyclovir as well as pain medications can help, but often this problem can come back, especially if someone has a weakened immune system from illness.
- Kidney problems. Kidney infections will need to be treated with antibiotics and an increase in fluids, while medications to help pass kidney stones, pain medication and even surgery can alleviate the problem with kidney stones.
In short, back pain is statistically likely to happen to most adults in their lifetime – and the experience can be excruciating. However, understanding the underlying causes of this pain can help a doctor make a diagnosis so that treatments to resolve the problem can begin. Diagnosis is incredibly important, because as you can see from the article above, treatments will vary widely depending on the underlying cause.