Reasons You May Have Back Pain on One Side Only

Back pain is a common condition. Health experts estimate that four out of five people will experience low back pain sometime during their lifetime.

Injuries and muscle overuse are some of the leading causes of pain in the back.

Back pain ranges from acute to chronic and can appear in just one side of the body.

Equipment such as a CT scan for the lumbar spine can detect the cause of this health condition for effective treatment.


People may associate back pain with pain all over the body, although it can appear on the left or right side of the back, such as in the lower back.

According to the Cleveland Clinic, in most situations, pain on one side of the back isn’t severe. The main exception is if a fall or other apparent cause triggered the back pain.

In that situation, you should consider scheduling a doctor’s visit. They can give you a physical exam and, if necessary, order tests, such as computed tomography (CT) scan.

In some situations, certain factors signal that one-sided back pain is a sign of a more severe condition:

Athleticism – Athletes are more prone to wear and tear on their muscles and bones. This factor could make them more likely to experience arthritis, herniated discs, and bone fractures.

Age – Older adults might experience more severe back pain after a minor injury. This situation could be due to factors such as developing arthritis or low bone density.

Most Common Causes

Tissue-related Back Pain

These tissues are the most common sources of back pain on one side. These soft tissues include muscles, ligaments, and joints.

Soft tissues run up and down the right and left side of the back on either side of the spine. Thus, if you aggravate a muscle on one side of the back, you’ll probably only experience pain within that region.

If soft tissues are causing the back pain, you’ll likely experience a sore or stiff back.

You also may experience tenderness or a limited range of motion.

Organ-Related Back Pain

If you experience deeper back pain and other symptoms, this could be related to an internal organ. Your symptoms might be a sign of irritation or infection.

Kidneys – Kidney infection or kidney stones might cause pain between the bottom of your rib cage and your hips. Other possible symptoms include fever and pain while urinating.

Intestines – Colon inflammation may affect one-sided lower back pain. Some other symptoms you’ll likely experience include stomach cramps, digestion problems, and weight changes.

Uterus – Pain on the right side of your lower back could result from endometriosis or fibroids. Possible symptoms include frequent urination and irregular menstruation.

When to See a Doctor

If you experience pain on one side of your back that doesn’t have an identifiable cause, then in most cases, the pain will go away over time. This period may span a few weeks until you feel relief.

In some cases, you may experience one-sided back pain for about 1.5 weeks that doesn’t seem to go away.

For situations like such, you should consider scheduling a doctor’s appointment.

Treatment Options

Natural Remedies

The main benefit of holistic treatments is that they lack the strong chemicals found in prescription drugs.

Natural treatments could be as simple as heat therapy. However, if the pain is long-lasting or severe, you should call a doctor.

Your physician may prescribe or any of the following to help manage back pain on one side:

Topical Pain Relievers

These options may have pain-reducing effects when applied to the skin, including:

  • Ointments
  • Creams
  • Salves
  • Patches

Physical Therapy

Physical therapists can help boost flexibility, strengthen back and abdominal muscles, and improve posture. Using these techniques regularly can help prevent recurring pain.

Therapists can also teach you how to modify your daily movements when you experience one-sided back pain. Through these techniques, you can stay active while preventing severe pain.

Massage Therapy

Massage may help if tense or overworked muscles are causing your one-sided back pain. Kneading muscles may help reduce inflammation and speed up muscle recovery.

Trigger Point Injection (TPI)

This procedure involves a doctor or other medical practitioner inserting a small needle into a patient’s trigger point.

A TPI often contains a saline solution and helps make the muscle contract and relax, which can relieve chronic pain.

Manipulation Under Anesthesia (MUA)

MUA is a minimally invasive surgery that attempts to reduce joint stiffness and relieve chronic pain.


Doctors usually reserve this treatment option for symptoms such as:

  • Continuous back pain
  • Radiating leg pain
  • Progressive muscle weakness

In most cases, doctors recommend surgery as a last resort for structural issues related to the spinal cord or spinal discs.


While back pain is quite common, you can use various natural remedies to deal with symptoms of pain on one side of the back.

In many cases, backache is just a proverbial pain in the neck.

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