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If I have pain on one side of my back only does that mean there is something wrong with my muscles?

Bad pain in my back, but only on the left side at the bottom. Does that mean it is just a muscle thing? Should I get a massage maybe and have someone loosen it up? What else could cause the pain just to be on one side like this?
I would recommend that you consult with your primary care doctor about this, especially if the pain is persistent or severe. You are definitely right that the most common cause of pain in the lower back on one side does have something to do with the muscle. What typically happens is that the muscles that run up and down along the side of the spine become strained or overworked, typically from things like bad posture (think: sitting at a computer screen all day long) or heavy lifting. When this happens they can become acutely inflamed and even, sometimes, go into spasm. This produces a sometimes severe pain located along the involved side of the lower back. The other condition that can cause pain on one side of the back like this is a slipped disk or a pinched nerve. Unlike muscle strain, however, either a slipped disk or a pinched nerve will usually produce pain that runs down the leg, not just limited right to the lower back. Either way, the first place to stop is your primary care doctor's office. They can evaluate your symptoms and help you decide what are the best treatments for your pain. Good luck!
This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.
If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or (in the United States) 911 immediately. Always seek the advice of your doctor before starting or changing treatment. Medical professionals who provide responses to health-related questions are intended third party beneficiaries with certain rights under ZocDoc’s Terms of Service.

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