Low right back pain could be caused by injury to muscles, tendons, ligaments, spinal problems, or diseases of internal organs. Most injuries to the right side are easily treated by the body. If symptoms interfere with daily activities, it is a good idea to contact a doctor.
It may feel like a sharp, stabbing pain on your left side. It may also throb on your right side, getting worse with each passing day. It doesn’t matter where it is located, but one thing is certain: back pain can be a painful foe.
According to the American Chiropractic Association, 80% of Americans will experience a back pain during their lifetime. Americans spend more than $50 billion a year on their care.
The pain may radiate from bones, joints, or ligaments. Back pain can also be caused by lifestyle choices. Back pain can be caused by everything, from poor posture and sports injuries to obesity and psychological stress.
You may be able to identify the source of the pain if it is only on one side. It could be a minor condition that your body can heal, or it could signal a more serious condition.
One-sided back pain can be quite common, states Bradley Tucker (MD), a Penn Medicine physician and assistant professor of Clinical Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation.
Continue reading to find out what symptoms to look for and what a symptom of back pain may be. Penn Medicine offers an online assessment to help you determine if it’s time to visit a doctor or look into home remedies for lower back pain.
Is This A Medical Emergency Or Not?
No one wants to rush to the emergency room for back pain. However, it is important to treat right side and left-side pains seriously. If your back pain is severe or you think it might be an emergency such as a serious medical condition or injury, go to the emergency room.
It’s important to know if the symptoms are occurring in combination with any other conditions, such as tenderness or swelling of the spine, bowel, bladder, or bowel problems.
Cauda Equina Syndrome, a serious nerve condition that causes nerve compression at one end of the spinal cord, is an example. Dr. Tucker explains that symptoms can include paralysis, numbness, a loss of bladder or bowel control, numbness, and numbness around your groin.
However, back pain is not the only emergency symptom. An abdominal aneurysm can cause the abdominal aorta balloon to burst or even rupture. Aneurysms can cause severe chest or abdominal pain that radiates to one side of your back.
If you think you might be experiencing an emergency, it is important to become familiar with the symptoms and get medical attention right away.
Remember to be cautious when you are dealing with back pain on your left or right side. This is especially true if it interrupts your daily activities or if it comes on suddenly and doesn’t respond to medication or rest.
Talk to your doctor or visit an emergency room to find out exactly what is going on behind the scenes.
The Common Causes of Lower Right-Back Pain
The following are the most common causes of lower right back pain:
- Injuries to the muscles, ligaments, or tendons around and supporting the spine are collectively known as “soft tissues.”
- Problems with the spine structures such as intervertebral disks or facet joints
- Problems or diseases that affect the internal organs of the pelvic, abdominal, and mid-back regions.
If lower right back pain persists or gets worse after a few days or if there is a sudden onset of severe or other worrying symptoms, it is a good idea to see a doctor.
Low right back pain is most often caused by minor injuries to muscles or ligaments in the lower spine and can be treated by the best otc for back pain. The body is well-equipped to heal these types of injuries. Although the initial pain from a muscle strain can be severe, it tends to go away over the next few days or weeks.
Strain Of The Lower Right Back Muscles
Muscle strain is the leading cause of low right back pain. It can be located mainly on the lower right side of the back.
These are some of the most common symptoms:
- Limitation of motion (movements like bending forward or turning towards the side can be painful or impossible).
- Tenderness or swelling of the lower right side
- Lower back muscle spasms
- Rest is a way to ease the pain. This can be done by sitting on your back with your feet up, with your knees slightly bent, in an armchair with an ottoman, or in a recliner with pillows.
- You will feel better when you use ice and cold packs to ease your pain.
- Pain can be relieved at least partially with over-the-counter NSAIDs such as ibuprofen and/or acetaminophen.
- Pain when you get up from a seated or lying position.
Muscle strain is most commonly caused by minor injuries like twisting while lifting groceries. Muscle strain can also be caused by an impact type injury, such as a car accident or sports injury.
Muscle strains usually feel better in a matter of weeks.
Lower Right Back Pain From The Spinal Column
Any combination of interconnected structures can be a source of pain in the spinal column, including the small facet joints running along the back, the discs in each movement segment and the nerve roots that branch off on the right side of each segment.
There are several common lower back conditions that can present with symptoms on the right side, including:
- Lumbar Herniated Disk The disc between two vertebrae can herniate on one side of the spine. This causes the jelly-like inner to protrude, or leak. Low right back pain can be caused by inflammation. It is common for the pain to radiate into the right leg and buttock.
- Facet Joint Pain (Osteoarthritis). Arthritis affecting the facet joints of the spine can cause stiffness, pain, tenderness, or discomfort on the lower right side. Sometimes, the right side nerve of the spine may be compressed by an arthritic bone spur at the facet joint. This can lead to local tenderness and lower right-hand back pain.
See Facet Joint Osteoarthritis.
- Spinal Stenosis A herniated disc or bone spur may cause narrowing of the spinal canal, which can lead to lower right back pain, radicular discomfort, and/or weakness in the right buttocks and legs.
- Sacroiliac Joint Dysfunction Sacroiliac joint dysfunction occurs when the pelvic bones and the base of your spine are connected by the sacroiliac joint. The sacroiliac joints on either side of the pelvis may experience too much or too little movement. This can cause pain in the right lower back and/or right hip.
Sacroiliac Joint Dysfunction (SI Joint Pain)
- Ankylosing Spondylitis Ankylosing spondylitis may be caused by inflammation in the lower sacroiliac joints. Early signs of ankylosing spine include lower right back pain, right hip pain, and/or lower right hip pain. Ankylosing Spondylitis can cause the spinal joints and vertebrae of the spine to fuse and restrict motion over a prolonged period.
Learn more about ankylosing spondylitis at Arthritis.com.
The severity of the symptoms and the condition of the patient will determine the treatment options. There are many treatment options available, including hot and cold packs, over-the-counter pain medication, manual manipulation, injections, and surgery.
Some patients find that effective treatment can be a trial-and-error process. The optimal combination of treatments could change over time.
The Less Common Causes of Lower Right Back Pain
Low right back pain can also be caused by problems in the spine or other severe pain conditions. These conditions include:
- Degenerative spondylolisthesis A degenerative spondylolisthesis is a bony vertebra that has moved forward above the one below it because of age-related wear and tear. This condition can cause strain on the lower back muscles that support the spine and cause localized pain.
- Syndromes of chronic back pain conditions such as myofascial and fibromyalgia can cause full-body musculoskeletal and/or chronic pain. They may also cause pain on one side or the other of the lower back. You may also experience tenderness or persistent fatigue.
Learn more about fibromyalgia at Arthritis.com.
- Spinal tumor Spinal cancer is rare. Most spinal tumors develop from another part of the body. Lower right back pain may result if a tumor presses against the spine or a nerve root.
See Back Pain and Spinal Tumors.
- Gallbladder inflammation Gallbladder dysfunction or inflammation is often accompanied by severe indigestion, especially after meals. Gallbladder dysfunction can cause right-sided back pain and upper right abdominal pain.
- Problems with the liver. The liver can be affected by inflammation (hepatitis), abscess, liver scarring, or cirrhosis. Liver problems can cause pain in the upper right abdomen or back, fatigue, nausea, lack of appetite, jaundice, and other symptoms. People who are not at high risk for liver problems are unlikely to develop them.
Certain conditions are more difficult to diagnose than others. It can be useful to keep track of long-term symptoms, such as those that are intermittent or worsen over time.
Internal Organs Cause Lower Right Back Pain
Lower right back pain can come from many places, including the abdominal, pelvic, and mid-back organs. The pain may occur due to inflammation, irritation or infection of an organ. These conditions can cause lower back pain and other symptoms that are more specific to the source.
There are several common causes of lower back pain, including:
Kidney infections and kidney stones can have very similar symptoms. Both can cause low right back pain, nausea, and vomiting. A kidney stone can cause difficulty urinating. It moves through the kidneys and into the bladder and the urinary tract. Patients may also notice blood in their urine. A right kidney infection can lead to fever, inflammation, and tenderness around the kidney.
Chronic inflammation of the large intestine (also known as the colon) is the hallmark of inflammatory bowel disease. Low right back pain can be caused by frequent abdominal cramping due to ulcerative colitis. Other symptoms include diarrhea, nausea, weight loss, fatigue, and rectal pain.
The appendix can be found on the lower right side of your abdomen. Appendicitis can cause lower back pain if it becomes inflamed or leaks. Although symptoms can vary and it is not clear whether chronic or gradual appendicitis is more common, there are some reports that chronic lower right quadrant pain may be present.
One common presentation is abdominal pain that suddenly develops with a central point in the lower right abdomen. Other symptoms include fever, nausea, vomiting, and lower back pain.
Lower right back pain can be caused by various pelvic organs. Endometriosis, a common condition, can cause sporadic, sharp pain in your pelvis that can radiate to your lower back. Fibroids are tissue masses found in the uterus that can cause lower back pain.
As the baby grows, lower right back pain and general low right back pain are common. Many women find that different pain management options are helpful. These include stretching and exercise, as well as complementary therapies.
Low right back pain may also be caused by internal conditions. To get an accurate diagnosis, it is essential to know what your symptoms are so that you can plan the best treatment.
- Cauda Equina Syndrome – OrthoInfo – AAOS. (2020, August 1). Cauda Equina Syndrome – OrthoInfo – AAOS. https://orthoinfo.aaos.org/en/diseases–conditions/cauda-equina-syndrome/.
- Back Pain On One Side. (n.d.). https://www.pennmedicine.org/updates/blogs/musculoskeletal-and-rheumatology/2017/november/back-pain-on-one-side.
- Chiropractor In Lakeville | Back Pain Facts & Statistics In Lakeville | Rozmarin Family Chiropractic, P. A.. (n.d.). Chiropractor in Lakeville | Back Pain Facts & Statistics in Lakeville | Rozmarin Family Chiropractic, P. A.. http://www.rfamilychiro.com/back-pain-facts-statistics.
- What Is the Prevalence Of Low Back Pain (LBP)?. (2022, January 31). What is the prevalence of low back pain (LBP)?. https://www.medscape.com/answers/1144130-118907/what-is-the-prevalence-of-low-back-pain-lbp.