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Pain Along One Side of the Low Back

Your Pain Pattern,
What Aggravates It,

The Underlying Anatomy
How to Get Relief,
and more…

Want to skip ahead?
Here’s a link to my post about
getting relief on your own.

How People Describe This Pain Pattern

The patient with this pain runs their hand up and down along one side of their low back and says that it hurts there. They often say that they have pain along one side of the low back when they get up from sleep, after a drive, or some other activity where the hip flexes for extended periods. When this trigger point becomes more active, they complain of pain when walking.

Sitting may offer them relief for short periods, but they often complain when they are driving for long periods. They are stiff and slow to rise after long periods of sitting.

They often seek relief by “moving around.” One client complained about this to get out of jury duty. They may also get relief by putting a pillow under their legs when sleeping on their back.

They may sometimes complain of a “twisted hip” or that their “back is crooked” or they have “scoliosis in their low back.” One side of their low back is often notably flatter than the other side.

This muscle surrounds or weaves with the nerves of the digestive tract, and they may also complain about digestive problems.

How You Activate and Intensify This Pain Pattern

People primarily complain of getting this pain when chronically flexed for long periods. As mentioned above, pain along the low back gets worse after sleeping, driving, sitting in conferences, etc.

It is also bothered by flexing the hip repeatedly. Sit-ups and leg lifts usually aggravate this. Missionary style sex, climbing stairs, and walking uphill will also increase trigger point activity.

This can get aggravated when bracing oneself on a jet-ski or amusement park ride. One client aggravated this by reaching across a table to cubby-holes while working on a craft project. These activities, by the way, are more likely to aggravate the quadratus lumborum because they have some movement. This pain pattern tends to be more activated by stillness.


The Musculoskeletal Anatomy Behind Your Pain

Start by Understanding the Anatomy.
About the coloring of the illustrations…

Psoas Major

This muscle is seldom illustrated to show both sections, which attach to different vertebrae and wedge the iliohypogastric complex between them. Learn more in this post about psoas major.

Getting Relief on Your Own

Clinically Proven
Self-Care Strategies

This post has strategies for getting relief on your own. Explore how to change your activities, stretch, ice, and more to relieve the pain associated with this trigger point.

Therapy Notes for Massage and Bodywork

Better Bodywork
Through Shared Expertise

This post has techniques, tips, treatment routines, and anatomy illustrations to improve the bodyworker’s approach.

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Tony Preston has a practice in Atlanta, Georgia, where he sees clients. He has written and taught about anatomy, trigger points, and cranial therapies since the mid-90s.

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*This site is undergoing significant changes. We are reformatting and expanding the posts to make them easier to read. The result will also be more accessible and will include more patterns with better self-care. In the meanwhile, there may be inconsistencies in formatting, content presentation, and readability. Until we get older posts updated, please excuse our mess.