Should You Worry About Back Pain that Only Occurs on One Side?
Whether it’s a sudden sharp pain stemming from a traumatic injury or a gradually emerging condition as a result of old age, you can expect to experience back discomfort at some point during your life. In fact, back pain is one of the most common medical problems, affecting an estimated 8 out of 10 people worldwide. It’s certainly not fun, but it’s a familiar foe. When the pain is isolated to one side, however, you may start to worry. Is it normal when back pain occurs only on one side? Why is it happening? How do I treat it?
In short, it’s important to know that one-sided back pain is completely normal and remedying it can be as easy as 1-2-3. Learn the potential cause of your injury and the right treatment options for your specific condition.
What Is the Cause of My One-Sided Back Pain?
There are many reasons why pain may be isolated on one side of your body. From tissue damage to bone injuries, here are a few potential origins of your one-side discomfort:
- Muscle strains or sprains: These injuries are the most common form of lower back pain and occur when you lift something improperly or overstretch your back muscles. Depending on where the injury occurred, pain can be isolated in a specific area of your back. Strains and sprains can range from minor to potentially critical, depending on the severity of the tear. If you’re experiencing excruciating pain or discomfort that lasts longer than a few weeks, call a doctor.
- Sciatica: This is a condition that refers to pain radiating along the path of the sciatic nerve, which branches from your lower back through your hips, buttocks, and down each leg. This type of pain—which usually derives from a herniated disc, bone spur, or spinal stenosis—typically only affects one side of the body and can feel like a burning sensation. If you sense weakness or numbness on one side of your back that shoots down your leg, visit a medical professional immediately.
- Herniated disc: A herniated disc is a condition that affects one of the discs in your vertebrae. When a fragment of the disc nucleus is pushed into the spinal canal through a tear or rupture, it’s considered a herniated disc. These bulging discs can push into your nerves, causing pain, numbness, and weakness in that particular area.
- Damage to your internal organs: Pain on one side of your body may derive from damage to the organs in your mid-back, abdominal, and pelvic area, including your kidneys, pancreas, colon, and uterus. If this is the case, you may be dealing with infection, inflammation, or irritation. For example, kidney stones—hard deposits of minerals and salts from inside your kidney that can travel down your ureter to your bladder—are a common form of this type of injury and can cause lower back pain.
- Bone issues: Arthritis, bone spurs, and spinal stenosis can cause pain on one side of the back. Discomfort can occur when your body overcompensates for bone pain on a certain side of your body—perhaps you’re putting more pressure on your right side when you walk—causing back pain on the left side of your body.
In general, mechanical problems with the spine, muscles, tendons, and ligaments are the main cause of back pain on one side of your body, though infections can be a variable as well. Often, pain from these injuries will go away on its own, but it depends entirely on the severity of the injury or condition. If you’re worried in any way, call a doctor.
How Do I Treat Back Pain That Only Occurs On One Side of My Body?
As a general rule of thumb, it’s important to consult your doctor if you feel pain that is new, intense, or troublesome in any way. Likewise, if the injury and resulting discomfort is affecting the way you approach your life–such as your job or day-to-day activities—seek medical attention. In the meantime, try these remedies:
- Apply ice and heat to the injured area for 20–30 minutes at a time
- Lightly and carefully stretch any tight muscles
- Drink at least 64 ounces of water a day
- Take over-the-counter pain medication such as Advil or Tylenol
Whether your pain is caused by an injury or an underlying condition, it’s important not to panic. Try a few home remedies and talk to a doctor who will better be able to inform you of the appropriate next steps.
Consider the Experts at New Jersey Spine and Orthopedic
If you’re experiencing pain on one side of your body and think you may need expert care, consider us at NJ Spine and Orthopedic. Our experienced and board-certified medical staff will carefully assess your current health condition or injury, consider your medical history, and provide practiced advice and care. Whether you’re in need of minor pain relief or a major, minimally invasive surgery, our neurologists, neurosurgeons, orthopedic specialists, and physicians will work together to help you on the road to recovery.
To discover the cause of your discomfort, take our free online pain assessment. If you know your condition and need help finding treatment options, consider using our Treatment Finder. If you have an MRI scan, get a free expert reviewon our website.
Our award-winning team of medical professionals is dedicated to eliminating your discomfort, shortening your recovery time, and helping you return to the pain-free life you once enjoyed. Give us a call at (866) 272-9271 orcomplete our contact form today