Why does my lower right back hurt?

Pain in the lower right back area can mean many things — read on to learn what causes back pain and what you can do about it

Pain in the lower right side of your back could stem from a number of issues ranging from muscle strain from activity to diseases of the organs, mid-back or pelvic region. Here are some other causes of lower right back pain and when to see a doctor for pain in the lower right back.

“One-sided back pain is fairly common,” said Kimathi W. Doss, M.D., neurosurgeon and spine surgeon with Norton Leatherman Spine.

Causes of pain in the lower right back

Minor tissue injuries can cause tenderness, swelling or muscle spasms in the lower right back. These types of injury typically feel better with rest, with application of ice or with over-the-counter pain relievers such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen.

Spinal injury or lower back conditions such as herniated discs, osteoarthritis, spondylolisthesis, spinal stenosis or other abnormality of the spine can cause lower right back pain.

Chronic pain conditions such as fibromyalgia or myofascial pain syndrome can cause pain in many parts of the body such as the lower back.

Underlying conditions including appendicitis, gallbladder inflammation, kidney infection, tumor, liver issues, pelvic inflammatory disease or urinary tract infection also can cause pain in the lower back.

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When to see a doctor for lower right back pain

“Lower back pain is common, and we will do a thorough interview first,” Dr. Doss said. “We will ask questions about how long you’ve had the pain, if it’s dull or stabbing and if you have other symptoms with the pain.”

If you have any of the following symptoms, seek care from a health care provider immediately. They could be signs of an urgent illness:

  • Sharp, intense pain in the lower right back or the lower right abdomen that is accompanied by nausea, vomiting or fever
  • Bowel or bladder pain or dysfunction that comes with sharp pain, weakness, numbness or tingling in the lower body

How is lower right back pain treated?

“Treatment depends entirely on the condition causing the pain,” Dr. Doss said.

Treatments may include:

  • Medications such as muscle relaxers or pain medicine
  • Back braces
  • Stretching or exercise programs
  • Complementary therapies such as massage or acupuncture
  • Surgery

Back pain can interfere with your day to day life, but there are specialists who can help you feel better.

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