Back pain on the lower right side: Causes and when to see a doctor

Last updated: 06-03-2020

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Back pain on the lower right side: Causes and when to see a doctor

In this article, we explore the possible causes of back pain on the lower right side. We also cover some causes specific to females and males and explain when to see a doctor.

A sprain occurs when a person overstretches or tears a ligament, whereas a strain refers to a torn tendon or muscle. According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, strains and sprains are the leading causes of acute back pain.

Causes of sprains and strains can include:

Muscle-related back pain can range from mild to severe. The symptoms of sprains and strains can include:

The type of treatment will depend on the cause and severity of the symptoms.

A person can treat mild sprains and strains at home with rest, ice packs, and over-the-counter (OTC) pain relievers, such as acetaminophen and ibuprofen.

For people with more severe sprains and strains, a doctor may prescribe muscle relaxants and stronger pain relievers to help manage symptoms.

Spinal stenosis is a narrowing or compression of the spinal canal, which is the area inside the spine that contains the spinal cord. This narrowing places pressure on the spinal cord, which can cause numbness and pain that radiates to the lower back, buttocks, and legs.

Treatment options for spinal stenosis include anti-inflammatory medications, physical therapy, and steroid injections. Doctors may recommend surgery for people with severe spinal stenosis.

The appendix is a small organ that connects to the first section of the large intestine. The exact function of the appendix remains unclear, but it may help support the immune and digestive systems.

Appendicitis is an inflammation of the appendix that may occur due to a blockage or an infection.

It typically causes intense pain in the right side of the abdomen. This pain can also radiate to the right side of the back.

Appendicitis requires immediate medical care. People who think that they may have appendicitis should go to an emergency room immediately.

Treatment typically involves surgical removal of the appendix, which is a procedure called an appendectomy.

Bacterial or viral infections that affect the urinary tract can move upstream into one or both kidneys. If a person does not receive treatment, a kidney infection can lead to serious complications, such as chronic kidney disease, kidney failure, or sepsis.

People with symptoms of a kidney infection should see a doctor as soon as possible.

Treatment for kidney infections usually involves a course of antibiotics. A doctor may also prescribe pain relievers to help ease a person's symptoms.

Drinking plenty of water is important to prevent dehydration and fever.

Certain minerals can build up in the kidneys and form hard deposits, or stones. Kidney stones vary in shape, size, and mineral content.

Small kidney stones can leave the body in the urine without causing symptoms. However, larger stones may cause blockages that can lead to sharp pain in one or both sides of the lower back. This pain may radiate to the groin and lower abdomen.

Other symptoms of kidney stones can include:

People with symptoms of kidney stones should see a doctor right away.

Ulcerative colitis is a chronic condition that causes inflammation of the lining of the large intestine, or colon.

Ulcerative colitis typically causes ongoing diarrhea, which may contain blood or pus. It can also cause abdominal discomfort and cramping that may radiate to one or both sides of the back.

Other symptoms of ulcerative colitis can include:

There is currently no cure for ulcerative colitis. The aim of treatment is to achieve remission, which is a sustained period during which a person has few or no symptoms.

Treatment options depend on the severity of a person's symptoms but can include medications such as:

If treatment does not improve the symptoms, a doctor may recommend surgical removal of the person's colon.

Causes of pain in the lower right side of the back that are specific to females can include:

Endometriosis is a condition in which tissue similar to the lining of the uterus, or endometrium, grows in other parts of the body, such as the ovaries, fallopian tubes, vagina, and cervix.

Endometriosis can cause chronic pain in the lower back or pelvis.

Other symptoms of endometriosis can include:

There is currently no cure for endometriosis, so treatments focus on reducing symptoms and preventing further complications.

Uterine fibroids are noncancerous growths that can develop in the wall of the uterus. Having them does not increase a person's risk of developing uterine cancer.

Uterine fibroids can vary in size, and some people may not realize that they have any until a doctor detects them during a pelvic exam or an ultrasound.

Not everyone with uterine fibroids will experience symptoms, which can include:

People without symptoms may not require treatment.

Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) is an infection that typically occurs when a sexually transmitted disease, such as gonorrhea or chlamydia, spreads to the uterus, ovaries, or fallopian tubes.

Symptoms of PID can vary in severity and may include:

People with symptoms of PID should see a doctor as soon as possible. Prompt treatment can prevent or minimize scarring that can increase the risk of fertility problems and ectopic pregnancies.

Antibiotics can usually cure the bacterial infection that causes PID.

Some women experience pelvic pain during pregnancy. Pelvic pain can affect one or both sides of the lower back.

This pain may also affect the perineum or radiate to the thighs. It may worsen while walking, standing up, or rolling onto the side.

The following tips may help reduce pelvic pain during pregnancy:

Women can also try applying ice or heat packs to help ease the pain. OTC acetaminophen is generally safe to take during pregnancy. However, it is advisable to speak to a doctor before taking any medications while pregnant.

Testicular torsion can cause back pain on the lower right side in males.

Testicular torsion occurs when the testicle rotates inside the scrotum, causing the spermatic cord to twist. A twisted spermatic cord can reduce or completely block blood flow to the testicle, which can cause irreversible damage.

Testicular torsion is a medical emergency, and anyone who experiences these symptoms should seek immediate medical attention.

Treatment involves a surgical procedure to either untwist the spermatic cord or remove the testicle.

People with severe, persistent, or worsening lower back pain should consult a doctor right away.

Also, seek medical attention for lower back pain that accompanies:

Lower back pain is very common. Possible causes of lower back pain on the right side include sprains and strains, kidney stones, infections, and conditions that affect the intestines or reproductive organs.

People should speak with a doctor if they experience lower back pain that does not improve with rest or affects daily life.

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