Despite being a fairly common complaint, lower left back pain can sometimes be difficult to diagnose because there are many potential sources of this type of discomfort. While go-to remedies such as resting for a day or two or using a heating pad or an ice pack may provide relief, some forms of lower back pain will become a persistent distraction until a cause can be determined, and some may even require minimally invasive spinal surgery. Los Angeles spine surgeons discuss some of the most common sources of lower left back pain.
Muscle strain from actions such as overdoing it at the gym or stretching too far to reach something is the most common cause of lower left back pain. You may experience a “back spasm” if a muscle is torn and inflammation results from the damage. Luckily, most back pain from muscle strain is temporary and will go away once tissues have healed. Lower your risk of experiencing muscle strain by:
- Stretching prior to exercising
- Bending your hips and knees and lifting properly
- Watching your posture as you sit or stand
- Shifting positions and taking frequent breaks to get up if you sit for most of the day
Lumbar Herniated Disc
Because there is so much access to the lower back, discs in this area that cushion the spine are susceptible to damage. These spongy discs may contribute to lower left back pain if a nerve root becomes pinched. The resulting discomfort may be from a disc that has slipped forward (spondylolisthesis) or from progressive wear (degenerative disc disease). Keep your spine’s discs healthy by:
- Drinking plenty of water throughout the day
- Watching your weight and diet
- Getting regular exercise
Facet Joint Pain
Acute (sharp) pain and persistent tenderness in the lower back are among the signs of an issue with the facet joints that connect the bones of the spine together. The pain experienced may be the result of an injury, or the joint may be affected by arthritis that has led to facet degeneration. Conservative treatments such as heat therapy, changes in daily activities, and the use of anti-inflammatory medications often help manage facet joint pain.
Sciatic Nerve Irritation
Originating in the lower back at the L4-S3 level, the sciatic nerve is the longest single nerve in the body. It extends downward toward the feet if you count related nerves that branch off from it. Irritation of this nerve is often due to something going on in the lower back or severe inflammation of nearby tissues. Symptoms that may indicate sciatica include:
- “Pins-and-needles” sensations
- Weakness or numbness relegated to one leg
- Unexplained pain in feet
- Severe shooting pain aggravated by movement
Sacroiliac Joint Dysfunction
The cause of sciatic nerve irritation may be a problem with your sacroiliac (SI) joint. Located in the pelvis by the tailbone (coccyx), this joint is usually durable. However, it may become a source of lower back pain if its normal motion is affected. For instance, too much SI joint movement may result in pain in the lower back, groin, or hips.
In rare instances, lower left back pain may be related to something going on with the internal organs such as a kidney infection, gynecological disorder, or a condition like pancreatitis. Even if this isn’t the source of your lower left back pain, it’s best to see a doctor if your discomfort isn’t going away with home remedies or over-the-counter medications or if your pain is accompanied by serious or worsening symptoms. You may need to consider fusion surgery or one of the many spinal fusion alternatives available.
From spinal cord stimulation to decompression surgery, Los Angeles patients can trust in the expert surgeons at The Spine Institute to find an effective form of treatment for your back pain. Call 310-828-7757 today to schedule an in-person evaluation.