If you’ve experienced back pain on just one side, you might wonder if that’s normal or maybe even indicative of a more serious problem than a tired back. At Integrated Pain Consultants, we offer a variety of treatments for all types of back pain—including one-sided back pain, which is very common. About 80 percent of adults have back pain at some point in their life, and while overall back pain is normal, so is one-sided back pain. Still, it’s important to see the “Top Doc” in Scottsdale as soon as you notice back pain because that’s the only way to get a fast, correct diagnosis and a treatment plan started.
Most of the time, one-sided back pain isn’t any more dangerous than overall back pain. There are some exceptions, such as if you had a fall or other trauma. In these cases, you may be suffering from a fracture and need special care. If the back pain is unbearable and/or you just had an accident, it’s best to go to the ER. Older adults with lost bone density and elite athletes with a lot of musculoskeletal wear are the two demographic exceptions with a higher risk of herniated disks and fractures. Otherwise, most back pain isn’t an emergency situation. The fact that the back pain is occurring on just one side also isn’t cause for a trip to the ER.
The most common cause of any back pain, including one-sided pain, is tissue-related issues. Soft tissue like a muscle or ligament can be found throughout the back. These soft tissues don’t cross the spine, so if a muscle or ligament is irritated, it will often cause pain on just the affected side. This pain feels like soreness or stiffness, and the area can be tender to touch. It’s common to have a limited range of motion from the discomfort.
Tissue-related injuries can be caused from a number of things including very deep sleep. If you were sleeping on one side and didn’t move much throughout the night, the muscles on one side of your back can tense up. Sitting for a long time on the computer or phone can also cause one-sided back pain because most of us don’t practice perfect posture or have an ergonomic office. Finally, travel is a big cause of one-sided back pain. We get creative when it comes to being comfortable on a plane or in a car for hours, and this can cause one-sided pain.
One of the first thoughts many people have when they experience one-sided back pain is that they need an appendectomy (appendix issues generally present in the anterior part of the body, not the back). Organs can cause one-sided back pain, and this type of pain usually feels much deeper inside the body. Inflamed intestines, kidney stones and kidney infections, and fibroid or endometriosis can all cause one-sided back pain. However, in most cases, back pain that’s caused by an organ will also have other symptoms. For example, kidney stones and kidney infections often come with blood in the urine, a fever, or pain while urinating. If your only symptom is one-sided back pain and the pain is bearable, you might be better off visiting a pain management expert rather than the ER.
Your unique treatment plan will depend on the cause of the pain and the location. One of the most common treatments is manipulation, which is why Integrated Pain Consultants has a chiropractor on-site. CBD topical creams and ointments can also help, especially if the pain is caused by tissue damage that simply needs a little time to repair itself. More severe conditions, such as a bulging disc, might be treated with an epidural steroid injection or spinal cord stimulation. The most important thing is to seek treatment so you can get on the fast track to feeling better.
The back is an incredibly complex system that’s responsible for bearing the brunt of much of our weight and activities. It’s no surprise that sometimes trauma occurs. The most common type of back pain is lumbar back pain, which usually presents across the entire back—but that doesn’t mean one-sided back pain isn’t also common. If you have any type of back pain, schedule a detailed evaluation by booking your appointment with Integrated Pain Consultants online or calling (480) 626-2552.