What to know about lower right back pain

Lower right back pain: Causes and treatment

Mechanical problems with the
spine, muscles, tendons, and ligaments are the most common causes of lower
right back pain. Other causes may include infections, kidney stones, or
appendicitis. The treatment for these issues varies depending on the cause, but
it may involve physical therapy or surgery.
The lower back carries a
significant amount of weight and is susceptible to injuries on both sides. It
is also possible for conditions affecting other areas of the body, such as
infections or inflammation, to cause lower right back pain.
The cause of lower right back
pain can determine how it feels. In some cases, people may experience a dull
ache that lasts a long time or comes and goes. In other cases, they may have
sharp, shooting pain. The pain may be specific to the right-hand side, or it
may be present in other areas of the back and legs too.
In this article, we discuss
some of the potential causes of lower right back pain and their treatment

Sprains and strains
These injuries are the most
common cause of lower back pain. Sprains occur when there is an overstretching
or tearing of ligaments in the back, while tears in the muscles or tendons of
the back cause strains.
Sprains and strains can occur
due to an injury, a sudden movement, or lifting a heavy object. The resulting
damage can be painful and restrict movement in this area of the body. Either a
sprain or strain can occur on the right side of the lower back.
The body can heal these
injuries itself, but people may wish to take anti-inflammatory drugs, such as
ibuprofen, to manage the discomfort. In some cases, physical therapy may aid


Radiculopathy occurs when inflammation,
compression, or injury affects the root of a spinal nerve. It can result in
lower back pain, which may occur on either side.
The causes of radiculopathy
vary. A herniated disc, where a disc in the spine slips out of place, is one
potential cause.
The treatment for this
condition will depend on its cause. Anti-inflammatory medications can often
help manage symptoms. In more serious cases, steroid injections may be
necessary to control inflammation and reduce pain.
If someone is overweight, losing
weight will help reduce the pressure on the area. Physical therapy can also
help by strengthening the surrounding muscles.

Spinal stenosis

This condition occurs when the
space around the spinal cord narrows and puts pressure on the spine and nerves.
This increased pressure can lead to pain and numbness in the lower back and
legs. It is most commonly a result of arthritis.
Spinal stenosis has a range of
different treatments that include:

  • nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory
    drugs (NSAIDs) or acetaminophen
  • physical therapy
  • steroid injections
  • surgery
Intervertebral disc

Intervertebral disc
degeneration is a common condition in which the discs that support the bones,
or vertebrae, in the spine degenerate.
This degeneration, which
occurs most often in the lower back, increases the friction between the
vertebrae. This friction can lead to pain in the back, neck, arms, and legs.
Intervertebral disc degeneration
often occurs as a person ages. Treatments for the condition may include:

  • physical therapy
  • steroid injections
  • facet rhizotomy, which
    involves injecting joints to decrease nerve pain
  • pain medications, such as
    NSAIDs or steroids
  • surgery

Infections that may lead to
lower back pain on either side can occur in several places in the body.
It is possible for the spinal
cord, pelvis, or intervertebral discs to become infected and cause lower back
pain. It is also possible for bacteria to reach the kidneys and cause an
infection. The kidneys are in the lower back, where they sit slightly toward
the right-hand side.
The cause of the infection
will determine its treatment. Antibiotics are the standard treatment for
bacterial infections.

Endometriosis is a condition
in which tissue that usually lines the uterus grows elsewhere in the body. It
is possible for this tissue to appear around the right side of the abdomen,
causing pain in the region.
There is no cure for
endometriosis, but treatment can provide relief from the symptoms. Treatment
options include:

  • pain medications, such as
    NSAIDs or acetaminophen
  • hormone therapy
  • surgery
Endometriosis can cause
infertility. For this reason, some women with this condition may also wish to
undergo in vitro fertilization or other methods that promote fertility.
Spinal tumor

A spinal tumor can grow on the
spinal cord or spinal column.
The cause of most spinal
tumors is unknown. In some cases, the tumor can be the result of cancerous
cells aggressively replicating. The tumor can put pressure on the spine and its
surrounding nerves, which can result in lower back pain on either side.
The treatment for a spinal
tumor will depend on the cause. For cancers, it can involve radiation therapy
or chemotherapy. In some cases, surgery may be necessary to remove the tumor.

Kidney stones

Kidney stones are small, solid
lumps of minerals that can form in one or both of the kidneys.
Smaller kidney stones are
painless to excrete, but larger kidney stones can cause significant issues.
They can become stuck and cause a lot of pain. If the stones affect the right
kidney, this could cause lower right back pain.
It is important to remove
large kidney stones immediately if they are blocking the urinary tract or
causing significant pain.
Treatment will involve
breaking the stone into smaller pieces for excretion. In some cases, this will
require surgery.


Appendicitis is the
inflammation of the appendix, which is a small pouch next to the large
intestine. Appendicitis causes pain in the abdomen that can travel down the
right side of the body.
Treating appendicitis usually
involves surgery to remove the appendix. It is not harmful to remove the
appendix, and it will not affect how the body functions.

The outlook for lower right
back pain will depend on its cause.
Mechanical injuries to the
spine or surrounding tissues can often heal without treatment, but this can
take time. Physical therapy and other treatments may speed up the recovery
process. Some conditions, such as disc degeneration and endometriosis, are
lifelong and people will require ongoing treatment to manage the symptoms.
The outlook for infections or
other causes will generally be better when people receive prompt and effective
Written by Aaron Kandola


Kayode Ojo
Kayode Emmanuel Ojo is the Co-Founder and Managing Director at SHEFFA Limited. He is presently studying Computer Science at the National Open University, Victoria Island, Lagos.