Some people experience one-sided back pain and it can be so annoying.
If you are not dealing from the aftermath of a fall on one side, then your one-sided back pain may not need specialized care.
There are exceptions though;
Age: An older adult may experience a minor injury that results in a more serious condition — either because they have low bone density, or they developed arthritis that causes pain.
Athleticism: Athletes are likely to experience greater musculoskeletal wear and tear than the rest of us. This makes athletes more vulnerable to fractures, herniated disks or arthritis.
The most common back pain is tissue-related.
Impulsive one-sided back pain can occur for a variety of reasons, but it’s usually related to the soft-tissue (muscle, ligament, joint). The back muscles run up and down the left side and the right side — they don’t cross the midline (spine). For this reason, if you irritate a muscle on the left side of your back, you would likely only have pain in that part.
When experiencing tissue-related pain, you will feel an aching soreness and stiffness. Often, the area will be tender to the touch and have a restricted range of motion because of the discomfort you feel.
Causes of tissue-related discomfort include:
Sound sleeping: If you have a night with limited movement, you may find that the muscles on one side of the back tense up, causing pain.
Sitting at your desk: If you sit for too long at your work desk and forget to move around, you could end up feeling the pain on just one side of your back.
Travel: Being stuck in a seated position for an extended period can cause muscle tightness. It is recommended that you take frequent breaks if you travel by car or walking around the aeroplane cabin whenever possible.
Usually, muscle-related pain will subside if you use a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID), rest the area and use an ice pack.
Left- or right-sided organ-related back pain
If the pain you experience is a little deeper in the back, and you’re having additional symptoms, it could be related to an internal organ. See your doctor, for these are signs of an infection or irritation:
Intestines: Inflammation of the colon may affect just one side of the lower back, and you’d probably also experience abdominal cramping, digestive problems and weight change.
Kidneys: An infection or kidney stones may also cause one-sided back pain that occurs between the bottom of the rib cage and your hips. You could expect to have other symptoms like blood in the urine, pain when urinating or fever.
Uterus: Pain on the right side of the lower back may be due to fibroids or endometriosis. Along with the pain, you’d likely experience menstrual irregularities, a frequent need to urinate and painful intercourse.
When to see a doctor about one-sided back pain
If you have pain in the left or right side of your back that started for no particular reason, it will most often resolve on its own or with minimal treatment. Mostly, 50% of cases resolve within two weeks and 75% resolve by six to eight weeks.
If you have been dealing with intense pain for 10 days and over-the-counter pain relievers aren’t cutting it, it is time to call your doctor.
Your doctor may recommend:
Stronger medicine: Prescription-strength muscle relaxants and anti-inflammatory medications could take the edge off as your body heals.
Manipulation: A physical therapist, chiropractor or osteopath could perform the hands-on treatment.
Pain that has been persistent for more than six weeks may prompt your doctor to call for imaging to ensure there are no broken bones or some other obvious reason for the pain.