Why Do I Only Get Left-Sided Back Pain?

Mar 02, 2024
Why Do I Only Get Left-Sided Back Pain?
Your spine is a complex structure, supporting your upper body with a wide range of movement while protecting the spinal cord and the nerves. Pain on the left side may give you a clue about its underlying cause.

Back pain is common, and it happens for many reasons. 

You can have pain anywhere on your back, often related to overexertion or awkward movements. Pain only on the left side may give you a clue about its underlying cause. 

When back pain impacts your daily life, it’s time to visit the experts at Coast Neurosurgical Associates in Long Beach, California. We’re back pain experts and can diagnose and treat any case of back pain, often without surgery.  

Why do I only get left-sided back pain?

The spine is the dividing line for nerve tissue, separating the left and right sides. Left-side pain may be due to conditions that simply affect muscles on the left side rather than the right. This could occur from something as simple as being left- or right-handed. 

A person who routinely puts their wallet in a rear pocket may develop back pain because of the unbalanced pelvic tilt the wallet causes. A left-handed person may favor the left rear pocket, so their symptoms develop on that side. 

Similarly, favoring your dominant side may cause soft tissue injuries when you’re working or playing sports. It might be because of overexertion on your dominant side or lack of muscle capability on your weaker side. 

Other conditions cause left-side pain for the same reasons. Let’s take a look at a few of these from a neurological perspective. 

Herniated disc

Spinal discs have a two-part anatomy. A tough outer shell encloses a viscous gel in the center. If the outer shell cracks or ruptures, the gel escapes. In some cases, it comes into contact with nerve root tissue branching from the spine. 

When this happens, you’ll have symptoms on the side of the affected nerve root. Herniated discs are a common cause of sciatica, symptoms related to compression of one of the sciatic nerves serving each leg. Left-sided sciatica means the herniation affects the nerve in the left leg. 


Osteoarthritis often causes bony growths where protective cartilage breaks down. Since nerve root paths through the bones of the spine are narrow, extra bone tissue may be the reason why nerve roots become compressed. 


The spine connects to the pelvis at two sacroiliac (SI) joints, one on each side. When one or both of these joints become irritated or inflamed, lower back pain results. It’s usually worse when you stand, climb stairs, or place too much weight on the affected side. 


As an abnormal side-to-side curvature of the spine, scoliosis can cause pain on the left side when conditions cause physical issues on the left. That could be from the musculoskeletal system or any internal organs experiencing compression. 

Visit us at Coast Neurological Associates when back pain interferes with your daily tasks and responsibilities. Book an appointment by phone or online to schedule your visit today.