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What Are the Causes of Pain in the Left Lower Back?

author image Martin Hughes
Martin Hughes is a chiropractic physician, health writer and the co-owner of a website devoted to natural footgear. He writes about health, fitness, diet and lifestyle. Hughes earned his Bachelor of Science in kinesiology at the University of Waterloo and his doctoral degree from Western States Chiropractic College in Portland, Ore.
What Are the Causes of Pain in the Left Lower Back?
Doctor examining lower back of female patient. Photo Credit: JackF/iStock/Getty Images

There are many causes of left lower back pain. Low back pain can range from a deep, dull ache to a sudden, stabbing pain. Back pain can be either acute or chronic. Acute back pain arises without warning and often lasts from several days to a few weeks. Back pain is considered chronic if it lasts for three or more months. Left-sided low back pain can be caused by musculoskeletal problems or organ problems.

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Kidney Stones

Kidney stones can cause pain in the left lower back. According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, kidney stones are one of the most painful urological disorders. Kidney stones are a common urinary tract disorder, and the majority of kidney stones pass out of the body without the need for medical intervention. Kidney stones are a hard mass formed from crystals that separate from urine. Although most kidney stones do not cause symptoms, some stones can cause a person to experience excruciating pain. The pain usually begins suddenly when a stone in the urinary tract blocks the flow of urine. A person may feel a sharp pain in the back on the involved side or in the lower abdomen that may eventually spread to the groin. Kidney stone-related back pain may be accompanied by nausea and vomiting.

Muscle Strains

Muscle strains can cause left lower back pain. The Spine Universe website states that lower back or lumbar muscle strains are the most common cause of low back pain. The low back is particularly vulnerable to muscle strains, due to its involvement in bending and twisting activities. There are numerous muscles in the low back that can suffer a strain or a partial tearing of muscle fibers, including the quadratus lumborum. Lumbar strains cause the affected tissues to become inflamed, which in turn causes pain, muscle spasms and reduced range of motion in the lower back. Lumbar muscle strains range in severity from mild to marked and can be debilitating. Common symptoms associated with lumbar muscles strains include low back pain that radiates or travels into the buttocks, and low back stiffness and pain that last for 10 days to two weeks.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Irritable bowel syndrome can cause left lower back pain. According to the Johns Hopkins Hospital Division of Gastroenterology & Hepatology, irritable bowel syndrome is a chronic lower gastrointestinal, or GI, tract condition that affects up to 15 percent of American adults. Common irritable bowel syndrome-related symptoms include the following: abdominal pain, distension and bloating, indigestion and problems with bowel movements. Symptoms seemingly unrelated to the intestine are also caused by irritable bowel syndrome, such as back pain, headache, sleep disruptions, post-traumatic stress disorder, muscle pain, chronic pelvic pain and jaw disorders. Irritable bowel syndrome is not associated with more serious health problems.

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