Ways of relieving right side back pain

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Back pain is a common musculoskeletal condition. The Office of National Statistics states that almost 31 million workdays were lost in the UK in 2016 due to musculoskeletal problems including back pain. 

When pain is isolated to your right-hand side, you may wonder why this is and what you can do to relieve it. Right side back pain is fairly common and can be caused by a minor issue that heals on its own or it can indicate a more serious condition


Symptoms of right side back pain

The symptoms of right side back pain will depend on the nature of your problem.

  • Sprain or strain muscle-related lower back pain can be mild or severe and radiate into your buttocks. It can cause aching, tenderness and stiffness in your lower back, restricted movement, difficulty standing or sitting upright and lower back muscle spasms.
  • Arthritis, bone spurs or spinal stenosis can cause numbness and pain down your lower back, buttocks and legs.
  • Intervertebral disc degeneration leads to pain in your back, neck, arms and legs.
  • Radiculopathy such as a herniated disc affects the root of your spinal nerve and can cause lower back pain.
  • Spinal tumour has lower back pain symptoms on either side.
  • Appendicitis produces intense pain in the right side of your stomach and can radiate to the right side of your back. Other symptoms include feeling bloated, having excess gas, abdomen swelling, appetite loss, nausea, vomiting, constipation or diarrhoea.
  • Kidney problems cause lower back pain due to infection, irritation or inflammation. Kidney infections and kidney stones are common kidney problems. Kidney infections bring about pain symptoms on one or both sides of your back, nausea and vomiting, cloudy, dark, bloody or smelly urine, frequently needing a pee and pain whilst urinating and chills and fever. Large kidney stones may cause blockages that can lead to a sharp pain in one or both sides of your lower back and the pain may radiate to your groin and lower abdomen. Kidney stones can also cause cloudy, bloody or smelly urine, a need to frequently pee, burning when urinating, fever and chills, and nausea and vomiting.
  • Ulcerative colitis can cause abdominal discomfort and cramping that may radiate to one or both sides of your back. Ongoing diarrhoea with blood or pus, appetite loss due to nausea, frequent bowel movements, unexplained weight loss, fatigue, fever and anaemia are other symptoms of this condition.
  • Endometriosis in women can cause chronic pain in your lower back or pelvis, as well as painful cramps during menstruation, bleeding or spotting between periods, intercourse pain, pain when going to the loo, diarrhoea or constipation, bloating and nausea.
  • Uterine fibroids can cause lower back, leg and pelvic pain in women and additional symptoms including frequent urination, constipation, pain or heavy bleeding during periods and unusually long periods.
  • Pelvic inflammatory disease can lead to lower abdomen and back pain, smelly vaginal discharge, intercourse pain, painful urination, fever and chills, and nausea and vomiting.
  • Pregnancy pelvic pain can affect one or both sides of your lower back as well as your perineum or thighs.
  • Testicular torsion in men can cause testicle or groin pain symptoms that radiate to your back, a swollen scrotum, nausea, vomiting and blood in your semen.


What causes pain in the right-hand side of the lower back?

Right-hand side pain of your lower back is caused by conditions that affect your muscles and the interconnected structures of your spinal column including your facet joints, discs and nerve roots as well as some serious health problems.

Muscle strain is the most common reason for low back pain and it can cause pain mainly on the lower right-hand side of your back. A muscle strain occurs when your muscle is overstretched or torn through twisting, lifting heavy objects or if it encounters an impact such as a sports injury or car accident. Typically, the pain from a muscle strain feels better within a few weeks and does not require medical attention.

Lower right back pain can also have orthopaedic and neurological causes including:

  • Lumbar herniated disc – the jelly-like disc between two vertebrae may protrude or leak on the right side of your spine and become inflamed causing dull low back pain. It can also cause pain to radiate into your buttock and/or right leg.
  • Facet joint pain (osteoarthritis) – arthritis may affect the facet joints in your spine and cause stiffness and discomfort in your lower right back. Sometimes a bone spur may compress your nerve on the right side of your spine and lead to lower right side back pain and local tenderness.
  • Spinal stenosis – your spinal canal may narrow due to a herniated disc, bone spur or other obstruction and cause lower right back pain that may travel along your spinal nerve root.
  • Sacroiliac joint dysfunction – can cause your sacroiliac joint on the right side of your pelvis to move too much or too little and lead to pain in your lower right back and/or right hip.
  • Ankylosing spondylitis – early signs of this degenerative condition may present as lower right back pain and/or right hip pain.
  • Degenerative spondylolisthesis – when a worn vertebra slips forward over another vertebra and puts strain on your lower back spine-supporting muscles. This can compress or irritate your nerve roots and cause lower right side back pain and pain along the sciatic nerve in your right leg.
  • Spinal tumours - may press on the right side of your spine or on a nerve root and cause lower right back pain.

Other causes of right side back pain include serious underlying health problems, that luckily are rare, such as:

  • Kidney disorders - kidney infections and stones can cause pain on one side of your back.
  • Colon disorders - such as inflammation of your appendix and inner walls of your large intestines can manifest as back pain.
  • Female reproductive problems - including endometriosis and benign growths within the walls of your uterus can sometimes cause back pain.
  • Cancer tumours - may cause pain that begins in your abdomen and radiates to your back, sometimes on one side.


Tips to relieve the pain

Often lower back pain on the right side can be managed with simple home treatments or lifestyle changes. Tips to relieve your pain include:

  • Stay active and continue your daily routines. Resting is likely to make your pain worse.
  • Apply heat or ice for about twenty minutes frequently throughout the day to ease your pain and any inflammation.
  • Try exercises for back pain and activities including walking, swimming, yoga and Pilates.
  • Take over-the-counter pain relief such as ibuprofen.
  • Stretch tight muscles for a few minutes every day.
  • Keep good posture as this will ease the pressure on your lower back.
  • Maintain a healthy weight to ensure an optimal load on your lower back.
  • Ensure you lift safely by bending with your knees to a squat position and holding the load close to your chest.
  • Drink plenty of water every day and limit your intake of animal protein and salt to reduce your risk of kidney stones.
  • Wipe from front to back when going to the toilet to prevent infection from bacteria in your colon passing to your urinary tract.
  • Give up smoking as the nicotine in tobacco can weaken your spinal bones and remove nutrients from your discs that may lead to spine problems.


When is the right time to seek professional advice?

You should seek professional advice if your lower right back pain:

  • continues after a few weeks
  • worsens or if you have sudden severe pain
  • interferes with your quality of life and stops you doing daily activities
  • occurs with other concerning symptoms such as incontinence, numbness or weakness in the legs, fever, nausea or vomiting.
  • Most cases of lower back pain on the right side are not medical emergencies. However, if you have symptoms of appendicitis, kidney infection, kidney stones or testicular torsion you should see a doctor immediately


About back and spinal treatments at Ramsay Health Care 

Ramsay Health Care offers a comprehensive range of diagnostic assessments and treatments for upper and middle back pain including radiology services,osteopathy, physiotherapy, pain management clinics, rheumatology, injection therapies and surgery.

Our experienced health professionals including Chartered Physiotherapists offer one to one advice for your tailored treatment and exercises plan to help relieve your upper and middle back pain. Some of the highest qualified and experienced orthopaedic, rheumatology and pain management consultants in the UK work with Ramsay Health Care to provide the best individual healthcare for your needs.

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