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Severe lower back pain is usually caused by a problem with your spine or hip, but it can also be caused by your internal organs. This blog will walk you through the symptoms and potential causes of acute, severe lower back pain.

A variety of symptoms may accompany acute discomfort in the lower back.

Acute lower back pain may be localised to one or both sides. You may also believe that the pain is coming from a specific location on the left or right side of your lower back. Sharp lower back pain is often accompanied by one or more of the following symptoms and characteristics:

  •     Motion is reduced. Severe lower back pain is often accompanied by increased tension and spasm in the surrounding muscles, resulting in stiffness and a reduced range of motion.
  •     Radiate from the nerves. If your lower back discomfort is caused by spinal nerve roots, a shooting sensation may travel into your leg via the afflicted nerve.
  •     Result in neurologic impairments. Lower back discomfort caused by nerve irritation or compression may be accompanied by neurologic symptoms such as numbness, tingling, a pins-and-needles sensation, and a general feeling of weakness in one or both legs.

Specific postures or activities, such as sitting, standing, walking, and lying down, may increase or alleviate these symptoms. While most cases of spinal pain disappear in a few days to weeks, the symptoms can become debilitating, interfering with your everyday activities.

Musculoskeletal conditions that commonly cause significant lower back discomfort

Acute lower back pain is most commonly caused by a sudden or repetitive damage to one or more structures that support your back, such as muscles, ligaments, joints, and intervertebral discs.

Muscle tension

A pulled muscle (muscle strain injury) can cause severe pain, spasms, and stiffness in your lower back. This damage could also be localised, causing intense discomfort in your lower back on either the left or right side. The following are common symptoms of a lower back muscular strain injury:

    Acute, shooting pain that becomes worse with movement

    Standing or walking difficulties

    Sharp pain when transitioning from a sitting to a standing or standing to a sitting posture

The pain is usually eased by reclining with support and elevating your legs, or by lying down and elevating your knees. Following the PRICE protocol may also aid in the relief of pain and healing of the torn muscle.

Herniated lumbar disc

Your spinal discs act as shock absorbers between your vertebrae, support your upper body, and allow you to move your lower back in a variety of ways. If your lower spinal disc(s) herniates, the inner contents of the disc may leak, irritating or crushing a nearby spinal nerve root. 1 The ensuing chain of inflammatory processes generates a number of symptoms, including:

    Acute lower back stiffness and discomfort

    Pain with specific activities, such as moving large objects or engaging in rigorous exercise

    Burning sensation in the buttock, thigh, or calf

    Sharp or dull discomfort around the outside of the foot or under the foot

    Leg numbness, tingling, and weakness

Sciatica occurs when these symptoms arise from your sciatic nerve roots (L4 to S3). 2

Anti-inflammatory drugs and specific forms of lumbar extension exercises can assist reduce herniated disc symptoms while also healing the disc. When considerable brain compression develops with severe symptoms, more intensive medical treatment(s) may be required.

Piriformis syndrome

The piriformis muscle, which is deep in your buttock, is affected by this pain ailment. If you have piriformis syndrome, you will experience pain in your buttocks and hips, which may radiate to your lower back. Three common symptoms are:

    Sharp, searing pain in the buttock that worsens with prolonged sitting

    Acute lower back stiffness and discomfort

    A warm or burning sensation around the back of your thigh

Pain relief medication may be used to treat piriformis syndrome. Muscle relaxants (obtained with a prescription) may assist reduce muscle stiffness and pain in extreme situations. Long-term treatment usually consists of piriformis muscle stretching and physical therapy.

Dysfunction of the sacroiliac joint

Sacroiliitis, a disorder characterised by inflammation and dysfunction of the sacroiliac (SI) joint, which connects the bottom of your spine to your pelvis on either side, may result in 4:

    Sharp, stabbing, or shooting pain felt directly above the afflicted joint – on either the right or left side of your lower back and buttocks

    a burning sensation running down the back of your thigh

    Positional flare-ups that can occur when moving from standing to sitting, climbing stairs, or lying on the afflicted side

Pain relievers, combined with posture correction and sacroiliac joint exercises, may help lessen acute symptoms. If the joints are significantly inflamed and affect adjacent nerve tissues, medical therapies such as radiofrequency ablation may be required.

While these are fairly frequent patterns, the actual presentation of these illnesses can vary greatly, making self-diagnosis of the fundamental cause of pain problematic. It is also possible for severe lower back pain to emerge for no apparent reason. This is known as nonspecific lower back discomfort. 

Acute back pain caused by internal organ inflammation

Lower back pain might be caused by inflammation or irritation of an internal organ, or it can be an indication of infection. Mid-back, abdominal, or pelvic organs might cause discomfort in the right or left side of the lower back, or it can be generalised throughout the area.

Examples of lower back discomfort caused by internal organs include:

  •     Stones in the kidney. When a kidney stone moves inside the kidney or the ureter, a tiny tube connecting the kidney to the bladder, it can cause acute lower back discomfort. Depending on which kidney is afflicted, the discomfort is usually localised to the left or right side.
  •     Infection of the kidneys. Kidney infections typically begin as urinary tract infections (UTI), producing inflammation and pain in the lower back, depending on which kidney is afflicted.
  •     Ulcerative colitis. Consistent large intestine (colon) inflammation can produce stomach cramping and acute back pain on one or both sides of the lower back and abdomen.
  •     Pancreatitis. Lower left back discomfort may be caused by pancreatic inflammation, which also produces upper stomach pain.
  •     Appendicitis. Inflammation of the appendix can cause intense pains in the lower right abdomen and back.

Specific disorders, such as uterine fibroids and endometriosis, as well as pregnancy, can cause lower back pain in women.

Lower back pain treatment can help lessen discomfort and improve function in your back and legs. While most lower back pain goes away in a few weeks, some underlying issues can cause your discomfort to become chronic and continue for months.

Consult your doctor for an appropriate diagnosis of your lower back condition to determine whether your discomfort stems from your lower spine, hip, or an internal organ. A doctor can perform appropriate medical tests to assess your discomfort and develop an effective treatment strategy.


Know more about Ayurvedic Spinal Disk & Radiculopathy Treatments.