Why Do You Have Back Pain on One Side?

Mostly the back pain is felt in the lower, middle or upper region of your spine bilaterally but you may also have unilateral (one-sided) back pain. Unilateral back pain may be right sided or left sided. Some patients suffer from constant pain while some experience intermittent pain. The character of pain may also vary, i.e. it may be of the dull type, throbbing or stabbing.

Please continue reading to learn more about the causes and tips to manage pain or you may click here to find an innovative treatment for your one-sided back pain.

Causes of Lower Left Back Pain

There may be several causes of lower left back pain but here we’ll discuss the most common causes.

Soft Tissue Damage

When the tissue damage of the muscles of this region occurs due to overuse or overstretching, pain is felt. Ligaments are sprained and muscle strain takes place due to overuse resulting in inflammation. Muscle spasm happens due to inflammation and you feel pain.

Spinal Column Damage

Back pain due to the damage of the vertebral column may be caused by:

  1. Disc herniation
  2. Osteoarthritis in the facet joints
  3. Sacroiliac joint dysfunction

Internal Organ Problems

Lower left backache may also happen due to any problem in the organ of this region. The organ problems may include:

  1. Kidney infection
  2. Kidney stones
  3. Pancreatitis
  4. Ulcerative colitis
  5. Gynecological problems in females such as endometriosis or fibroids


Radiculopathy takes place due to compression, injury or inflammation because the roots of the spinal nerve are affected. This leads to one-sided back pain. There may be several causes of radiculopathy but the most common one is disc hernia. The treatment of underlying cause results in pain relief.

Spinal Stenosis

This condition takes place when the space around the spinal cord becomes congested and thus the pressure is exerted to the roots of spinal nerves. Pain, numbness and tingling sensations take place in the affected region of back and legs. This condition most commonly takes place due to arthritis. NSAIDs are most commonly used to relieve pain in this condition.

Intervertebral Disc Degeneration

Intervertebral discs support the vertebral bones. When intervertebral disc degeneration takes place in the lower left back region, you might feel pain. Pain is felt because friction in between vertebral bones enhances due to degenerative processes. Pain is also felt in the neck, legs, and arms. Steroid injections and physical therapy are used as treatment modalities.


Infections may occur in several places in the body which can lead to lower left back pain. Infection may take place in intervertebral disc, pelvis or spinal cord. Bacteria may also extend up to kidneys which are in the lower back region. Antibiotics are used for the treatment of bacterial infection.


Endometriosis is a condition in which the tissues that line the uterus are found somewhere else in the body. If these tissues are present on the left side of the abdomen, left backache is felt. Painkillers are used to relieve pain in this condition.

Causes of Right-Sided Back Pain

Following are the common causes of right-sided lower back pain:

Kidney Stones

Kidney stones are composed of excess minerals and salts and they are solid structures. When a small kidney stone is entrapped in the ureter, sharp stabbing pain is felt in the back, groin and lower part of the abdomen. Urination is painful in this situation. Other symptoms include difficulty in passing the urine or blood in the urine. The treatment of this condition includes drugs to relax ureter, shock wave lithotripsy and surgical procedures.

Bone Spurs

It is the shelf like a bony projection of vertebral bones which may appear on either side of the back but more common on the right side. It causes less room for spinal nerves. Nerve roots are compressed and pain is felt in the affected region which radiates to legs also.


Low back pain either on the right or left side may happen in pregnancy. Discomfort in the back due to pregnancy may be relieved by warm baths, gentle stretching, massage, and ordinary painkillers. The woman should not wear high-heeled shoes in this condition.

When to Consider a Doctor?

Sometimes, one-sided back pain is a medical emergency. You should immediately seek medical help if you have the following symptoms:

  • Severe and sudden back pain that is not settled by rest
  • Severe one-sided back pain along with abdominal pain
  • Confusion, dizziness, and difficulty in breathing
  • Intermittent or continuous fever with rigors and chills
  • Difficulty in passing urine, painful urination or bloody urine
  • Bowel or bladder continence or incontinence
  • Weakness, numbness or tingling sensations in the back or upper and lower limbs

Tips to Handle One Sided Back Pain

  • Take proper rest. Minimize the normal physical activities for the initial 48 hours
  • Apply hot or cold fomentation to the affected area
  • Use over the counter painkillers. NSAIDs are the best drugs in this regard.
  • Sleep in a comfortable position keeping a pillow between your legs.
  • Do not perform activities which involve bending or twisting of the back.
  • Do not perform heavy exercise immediately after the occurrence of pain.