Pain is an unpleasant subjective sensation which is capable of causing significant discomfort. Pain in any part of the body can also often disable a person can disrupt his/ her daily routine activities.
Stomach pain, for the matter, is one of the most common complaints with which people present to the clinic. It also accounts for the maximum number of leaves for both children as well as adults. Similarly, back pain is also one of the most commonly occurring complaints especially among the adult population. According to a study, an estimate of about 60-80% population experience back pain at least once in their lifetime.
Back pain can be due to a cause within the back or spinal cord or it may be referred from adjacent body structures in presence of some disease or infirmity. Stomach pain and back pain can be acute or chronic, depending entirely upon the onset, duration and progress of the patient’s complaints.
Plenty of genetic as well as environmental factors play a role in the development of pain in lower left hand side of stomach and back.
What Does Pain in Left Lower Side of Stomach and Back Mean?
Pain in left lower side of stomach and back is quite a challenge to diagnose. The left lower side of your abdomen is also referred to as Left Lower Quadrant in medical terms. While dealing with abdominal pain, common as well as serious clinical conditions must be kept into mind.
1. Colitis – The parts ofthe colon on the left side are the splenic flexure (near the spleen) and the descending colon. Inflammation and infection of the inner lining of the colon is called Colitis. Colitis may be acute or chronic.
Causes – Cause of colitis is widespread – it could be infective, autoimmune, caused by the use of medications, drugs, alcohol or certain food substances.
Signs and Symptoms – Severe abdominal pain and tenderness. Fever, loss of appetite, weakness and occasionally bloody diarrhea may be seen.
2. Diverculitis – This is an inflammatory condition of abnormally formed diverticuli (pouches) in the wall of the colon. Obesity, hereditary factors, lack of exercise, low vitamin D levels, smoking and alcohol abuse and use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are probable risk factors for developing diverticulitis.
Signs and Symptoms – Acute onset of pain in the left lower side of stomach. There may be fever, diarrhea or constipation and bloody stools will be seen in complicated cases of diverticulitis.
3. Inflammatory Bowel Disease – This term covers two major entities affecting the large and small intestine-Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.
Signs and Symptoms – Signs and symptoms can be differentiated for these two clinical conditions.|
|Ulcerative Colitis||Crohn’s Disease|
|Stools have blood and mucous||Stools are porridge-like with excretion of fat|
|Severe abdominal pain with stools is commonly present||Abdominal pain with stools is seen less commonly|
|Presence of fever means increased severity of disease||Fever is less commonly present|
|Weight loss is more rarely seen||Weight loss commonly seen|
4. Irritable Bowel Syndrome – This particular condition is called a syndrome because it covers a wide group of symptoms like diarrhea and constipation or having alternate diarrhea and constipation, abdominal pain and distension. It can occur due to psychological factors like stress, anxiety and depression, vitamin D deficiency or due to infection from bacteria, viruses or fungi.
Conditions – Like chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia and genito-urinary or gastro-intestinal conditions may be associated with irritable bowel syndrome.
5. Constipation – Constipation means having hard stools or irregular bowel movements. Patients having constipation may experience pain in the abdomen before or during stools. Constipation, in the long-run has serious complications like anal fissures, fecal impaction and even hemorrhoids.
6. Ectopic pregnancy – As the name suggests, ectopic meaning outside. Likewise, an ectopic pregnancy occurs when the embryo forms outside the uterus. Fallopian tubes are the commonest site for ectopic pregnancy. The female’s body undergoes normal changes of pregnancy but the fetus grows outside the uterus. The fetus has a very low chance of survival outside the uterus.
Signs and Symptoms – Severe per vaginal bleeding and cramp like or sharp abdominal pain. Rapid heart rate and even shock ensues. This condition is a life threatening complication of pregnancy and is a surgical emergency.
6. Pelvic Inflammatory Disease – Inflammation and infection of female reproductive organs including uterus, fallopian tubes and ovaries. Chlamydia, Neisseria are the commonest organs identified to cause pelvic inflammation.
Signs and Symptoms – Severe lower abdominal pain and tenderness. Pain is often cramp-like or dull in nature. Pain tends to become chronic if not treated on time. Abnormal, irregular menstrual bleeding is a common feature.
7. Torsion of Testes – The spermatic cord twists because of blood supply to the testes is compromised.
There is a sudden onset of severe and sharp pain in the lower abdomen and in the groin of the side affected. Nausea and vomiting are often present. The affected testis appears higher than the normal position and it also becomes discolored.
This condition is a surgical emergency. If the de-torsion of the affected testis is to be done early so that blood flow is established again.
8. Hernia – A hernia is a breach or weakness in the anterior abdominal wall through which abdominal contents tend to protrude. Hernias may be inguinal (groin), incisional, hiatus or umbilical.
Signs and Symptoms – Pain and discomfort while coughing or from exertion. A bulge may also appear on the weak portion of the abdominal wall.
Hernias need to be repaired surgically if the bulge is too much because the bulging contents may get strangulated.
9. Peritonitis – This is an inflammation of the inner lining of the abdomen which covers the abdominal organs. Peritonitis is usually a complication of an infection of other abdominal contents. It is a serious condition and needs prompt treatment.
Signs and Symptoms – High grade fever, severe and acute abdominal pain and tenderness and distension of the abdomen. Nausea and vomiting and in severe cases, paralytic ileus (paralysis of the intestine) is also be seen.
10. Bowel Obstruction – Obstruction of the intestine (small or large) due to causes such as a hernia, intussusceptions, volvulus, appendicitis, inflammatory bowel disease, diverticulitis or tumors and adhesions.
Signs and Symptoms – The Severe abdominal pain of acute onset, nausea, vomiting and bloating. Severe cases may require surgical repair of bowel obstruction.
11. Porphyria – A rare group of genetic disorders in which porphyrins accumulate in the body.
Signs and Symptoms – A rapid onset and commonly affect the nervous system. Abdominal pain, chest pain, nausea and vomiting, high blood pressure, rapid heart rate and fever are some of the frequently seen signs and symptoms.
Local causes for pain in lower left side of stomach and back include herpes zoster infection of the anterior abdominal wall and strain of abdominal muscles.
What Causes Pain in Lower Left Side of Stomach and Back?
1. Sickle Cell Crisis – This a painful condition in which the red blood cells, which are generally round in shape become sickle-shaped due to abnormal hemoglobin (HbS). This process is called SICKLING. Due to this shape of red blood cells, they tend to occlude smaller blood vessels and rupture. Sharp, dull and throbbing type of pain in the abdomen, back, knees, arms, legs and chest is a common presentation of sickle cell crisis.
2. Pyelonephritis – This is an inflammatory condition of the kidneys usually due to bacteria. Mechanical obstruction of urine due to stones, strictures in the urethra and benign enlargement of the prostate. Use of urinary catheter can also favour the occurrence of pyelonephritis.
When the left kidney is affected, the signs and symptoms include fever with chills, severe left side flank region pain and tenderness at back in the region of kidney affected. Urinary complaints include burning or pain during urination and increased the frequency of urination.
3. Renal Calculus – Presence of stones within the kidneys is called Renal Calculi. Low water intake, high calcium intake, recurrent urinary tract infections, obesity, high intake of sugars and animal protein and certain medications favour kidney stone formation. Stones up to 5mm in size can be passed through urine.
These kidney stones frequently pass into the ureter (a narrow tube like structure within the body that carries urine from the kidney to the bladder). Ureteric stones are capable of causing severe agonizing pain which can disable the person.
Signs and Symptoms – Severe left sided flank (abdomen and back at the same side) pain in case of left renal calculi. Pain is severe and often referred to the groin area of the respective side. Nausea, fever, vomiting, painful urination and occasionally hematuria (passage of blood in urine) may also be present. Some patients even report passage of stones while urinating.
5. Endometriosis – A condition in which the inner lining of the uterus, the endometrium, grows outside the uterus over the fallopian tubes and ovaries. The tissue rarely grows outside the pelvis. This endometrium that grows outside thickens and bleeds during each menstrual cycle. But this endometrium is not shed via the uterus and tends to form adhesions along the other structures of the pelvic organs.
Endometriosis causes severe lower abdominal and back pain during periods. It is also capable of causing infertility
6. Uterine Fibroids – This is a benign overgrowth of the uterine tissue. Uterine fibroids can be painless and often associated with unusually heavy menstrual bleeding along with abdominal pain or cramps.
The uterine fibroids, if large in size, can also exert pressure upon the bladder and cause increased frequency of urination. Uterine fibroids can cause pain in the abdomen as well as lower back during coition and menstrual bleeding.
7. Pregnancy – Lower back pain on one side can be observed when the fetus grows larger in size. Back pain due to pregnancy can be dull and constant.
8. Sciatica – Irritation of the sciatic nerve root due to compression or inflammation causes a sharp, shooting type of pain from the lower back on affected side. The pain often radiates to the knee or calf muscle on the same side and is associated with tingling and numbness.
9. Herniated Disc – Inter-vertebral discs present in spine work as shock-absorbers and enable normal movements of the spine. This disc can be worn out or may bulge from between two vertebras and may sometimes get inflamed.
Pain due to a bulged disc may be mild to severe depending upon the amount of bulge. The bulged disc can also exert some pressure upon the nerve roots. Other reasons for pain on the left lower side of stomach and back are lumbar spondylosis, lumbar stenosis, and herpes zoster infection of the skin and muscular sprains or strain.
(Read – Left Side Body Pain Types and Causes)
How to Treat Pain in Lower Left Side of Stomach and Back?
Low back pain can generally be attributed to our lifestyle – over-lifting, sedentary habits, inappropriate posture, an unbalanced diet and lack of exercise, to name a few!
Lifestyle modifications along with the suitable amount of rest and medications not only help to reduce back pain but they also help in preventing diseases in the long-run. Some ways to treat pain in lower left side of stomach and back by you are
- Hot Fomentation – Using a hot water bag or a heated cloth causes vasodilatation. This relieves the pain temporarily. Hot fomentation also relieves muscular aches and sprains. Hot application is also useful to relieve menstrual cramps.
- Cold Fomentation – Using ice packs. Ice packs are effective in reducing pain where the cause is inflammation.
- Mint – Either chewing mint or peppermint leaves or having peppermint tea is known to reduce nausea as well as stomach pain.
- Ginger – Having ginger tea or chewing ginger is beneficial for stomach aches because ginger has anti-inflammatory properties.
- Lemon – Lemon is rich in vitamin C which has boosts immunity and speeds up the healing process in any illness. Lemon, ginger and honey in warm water are also known to cleanse the lymphatic system and get rid of infective micro-organisms.
- Apple Cider Vinegar – A glassful of warm water with two spoonful of ACV and some honey work wonders for maintaining the overall health of an individual. ACV has anti-bacterial properties and is acidic in nature.
- Asafetida – The old age “hing”, is anti-infective. A pinch of asafetida can be had along with warm water. It relaxes the muscles and reduces pain.
- Aloe Vera Juice – This plant juice helps to soothe intestinal troubles and complaints related to indigestion like abdominal cramps and bloating.
- Regular Exercise – This is the easiest way to relive low back pain. Exercising releases endorphins which has an analgesic effect upon the body.
- Plenty of Water – Although mentioned at the last, water is the only way to flush out toxins from the body. Water also prevents dehydration from setting in.
Pain in lower left side of stomach and back during pregnancy should not be ignored. It must be reported immediately to the gynecologist. Also, the safety of these self-help remedies should be ensured by the gynecologist beforehand.
Pain in Left Lower Side of Back and Stomach due to Causes within the Abdomen Need Prompt Medical Attention in the Following Cases
- If the pain doesn’t subside within 24-48 hours even
- If the pain increases in severity
- Blood in urine, stools or while vomiting
- If you have symptoms of excess nausea, vomiting or diarrhea
- Heavy per vaginal bleeding in case of females
- If you notice a fever. Fever is often an indicator for an on-going infection within the body and therefore it needs to be reported.
Such cases need to be evaluated and treated at the earliest. This is because it is quite evident from the list of causes above that maximum conditions are pretty serious and a lot of them even have fatal complications if not treated on time.
It is critical to visit your doctor immediately as reasons for abdominal pain could be anything ranging from transient pain which subsides with medications to a pain that even requires immediate surgical intervention.
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