Causes of Quadratus Lumborum Pain & Treatment Options

Written by Jamie Page
Physiotherapist, Salford University
Medically reviewed by Dr Gina Arena
Research Fellow, University of Western Australia
Reviewed on July 21, 2022

Woman at her desk suffering with lower back pain

Quadratus lumborum (QL) pain is caused by stress or a strain of the quadratus lumborum muscle.[1]. This muscle is located on either side of the lumbar spine, extending from the lowest rib to the top of the pelvis.

QL pain is a common medical condition which can be triggered by activities such as sitting, standing, and walking. It is often a pain that can be missed or ignored easily.

What are the symptoms of quadratus lumborum pain?

Typical symptoms of back pain occur with quadratus lumborum pain. It is a localised, dull, and aching pain on the back, pelvis, and hips. Trigger points also develop when a muscle is stressed, causing muscle spasms.

It is crucial to note that this is usually without any sharp pain radiating to the thighs, legs, or feet. Any other symptoms on the back or its nearby regions of the muscles and bones can indicate other conditions.

Causes of quadratus lumborum pain?

Overuse, stress, and strain are the reasons why this pain occurs. Muscles become too weak and too tight, especially with a sedentary lifestyle or prolonged immobility.[2] It can happen from improperly twisting or bending your back and lifting objects incorrectly. Other times, it occurs insidiously due to long periods of stress on the back.

How is quadratus lumborum pain diagnosed?

If you are experiencing pain in your back, your physician will be able to help you identify the root of your pain and any connection to other health issues. They will let you describe any physical activity and describe the nature of your pain. It will help them develop a plan to treat your problem through self-care and home treatment.

Can quadratus lumborum pain cause complications?

The body can compensate if the quadratus lumborum is left untreated, leading to imbalances and misalignment. The weakness on one side of your back can cause severe pain and eventually affect other parts of the body. Other times, people complain of abdominal pain as well.

How is quadratus lumborum pain treated?

Application of heat or cold to the area helps to reduce back pain and inflammation. Your doctor will also recommend painkillers, muscle relaxant medication, and trigger point injections.

You can also opt for treatments for pain, such as:

  • Massage therapy and myofascial release

  • Physical therapy

  • Chiropractic treatment

  • Acupuncture

  • Yoga.

If these interventions do not relieve the pain within two weeks, go to your doctor to see if you have another related health problems.

Other factors that could impose immediate care, for instance:

  • Changes in bowel or bladder

  • Increased body temperature or fever

  • Injuries from an activity ( e.g. fall)

  • Radiating pain from the back to the lower limb

  • Loss of function due to decreased strength of muscles

  • Tingling sensation on either leg or numbness on activity

  • Unexplained weight loss.

How is quadratus lumborum pain prevented?

Keeping yourself healthy and fit is essential to keep your muscles active and aligned. Focus on movements of stretching and strengthening areas, like side bends and stretches, to release the back muscle’s tension and improve movement in the area.

Yoga, Pilates, and tai chi are practical activities to increase your core strength. Try doing exercises that promote the lengthening of your ribs and pelvis.

If you are experiencing pain, treating it as soon as possible is better. Ultimately, to prevent quadratus lumborum pain, ensure a good posture when sitting, standing, and even driving. Also, lift heavy objects properly and sleep in a position that would relieve your back pain.


If the quadratus lumborum pain is detected in its early stages it is manageable and can potentially improve when treatment response is positive. Any steps you take to get better will help with a better prognosis for your condition.

Written by Jamie Page
Physiotherapist, Salford University
Published on July 21, 2022
Medically reviewed by Dr Gina Arena
Research Fellow, University of Western Australia
Reviewed on July 21, 2022
Medical reviewers
Last medically reviewed on July 21, 2022 has strict sourcing guidelines and relies on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations. We avoid using tertiary references. You can learn more about how we ensure our content is accurate and current by reading our editorial policy.
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