Back pain after eating is often the result of conditions and/or disorders in other areas of the body that radiate to the back. These problems range from unhealthy posture, digestive issues, bowel problems, ulcers, allergies, etc. This is because the nerves of the back and the abdominal area run through areas of the spine. In addition to the classic symptoms like bloating and gas, individuals can develop symptoms beyond the gut, including sleep problems, fatigue, headaches, urinating problems, muscle aches, pelvic discomfort, and back pain. Chiropractic care and functional medicine can realign the body, alleviate symptoms, and restore function.
Back pain after eating can be linked to the body’s digestive process.
Food Intolerances or Allergies
Many individuals are affected by food intolerances or allergies.
- Individuals in this group can experience inflammation after consuming specific foods.
- Inflammation could worsen existing back problems.
- Individuals with food intolerance will have uncomfortable but usually not dangerous symptoms.
- Individuals with food allergies can experience life-threatening allergic reactions.
Heartburn results from acid reflux, when stomach contents and acid flow back into the esophagus. Heartburn’s key symptom is a burning sensation in the chest. However, heartburn and indigestion do not directly cause back pain. But for individuals with back problems, heartburn can worsen back discomfort.
- Gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD, could cause back pain in individuals with more than two weekly heartburn episodes.
- The digestive system condition results from the chronic backflow of stomach acid.
- Over time, the powerful acid can inflame the esophageal lining.
- A stomach or esophageal ulcer can develop if GERD is not managed.
- Pain could be felt in the lower to middle back around the stomach and lower intestines.
- Ulcers can also result from a bacterial infection of Helicobacter pylori (or H. pylori).
- Long-term use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (or NSAIDs) can also enable ulcer formation.
- A peptic ulcer (or open sore) can develop on your stomach’s interior lining.
- The small intestine’s upper portion can also be affected.
- An H. pylori bacterium infection can cause a peptic ulcer.
- Long-term NSAID use can cause a peptic ulcer.
Peptic ulcers cause burning pain in the stomach. These flare-ups can worsen existing back problems and pain. Spicy foods and stress don’t cause peptic ulcers but can worsen their effects. In severe cases, a peptic ulcer can cause referred back pain felt in another location than where the pain originates. This means pain could be felt in the lower to middle back adjacent to the stomach and lower intestines.
Back pain could result from a bacterial kidney infection.
- Kidney dysfunction infections, kidney stones, and chronic kidney diseases can be mistaken for general back and side pain.
- Other symptoms can include chills, fever, nausea, and vomiting.
Pancreatitis can develop if the pancreas becomes inflamed, brought on by excess alcohol consumption or gallstones. This definitely can cause back discomfort and pain.
- Pancreatitis is the inflammation of the pancreas.
- After eating, individuals can experience worsening abdominal pain that can refer to the back.
- The body’s network of interconnecting sensory nerves causes the pain to be felt in other areas.
- Most individuals will experience pain in the upper left or middle abdomen.
Celiac disease is an autoimmune disease.
When individuals with celiac disease consume foods with gluten, the small intestine gets damaged, and their bodies cannot properly absorb the necessary nutrients.
- Gluten enteropathy is an allergy to gluten in the diet.
- It causes inflammation, abdominal cramping, diarrhea, and weight loss.
- Back pain can result from the symptoms and prolonged bed rest.
Besides the back discomfort, there could be a burning sensation during urination or other urinary tract symptoms. Stools could be dark or black, a possible ulcer symptom. To reduce the chances of back discomfort after eating, avoid sugary, spicy, fatty foods or anything that triggers heartburn and reduce alcohol consumption. If you are experiencing frequent episodes of back pain after eating or the pain worsens, contact your physician, healthcare provider, or a chiropractor.
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Celiac Disease Foundation. (n.d.) “What is celiac disease?” celiac.org/about-celiac-disease/what-is-celiac-disease/
Mayo Clinic. (n.d.) “Celiac disease.” www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/celiac-disease/symptoms-causes/syc-20352220#:~:text=Celiac%20disease%2C%20sometimes%20called%20celiac,response%20in%20your%20small%20intestine
Mayo Clinic. (n.d.) “Peptic ulcer.” www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/peptic-ulcer/symptoms-causes/syc-20354223
Cleveland Clinic. (n.d.) “Kidney pain.” my.clevelandclinic.org/health/symptoms/17688-kidney-pain
Pfizer. (April 25, 2022) “Heartburn, acid reflux, or GERD: what’s the difference?” www.pfizer.com/news/articles/heartburn_acid_reflux_or_gerd_what_s_the_difference#:~:text=The%20terms%20acid%20reflux%2C%20heartburn,meals%20or%20when%20lying%20down
Prairie Spine & Pain Institute. (n.d.) “What may cause back pain after eating: symptoms & prevention.” prairiespine.com/spine-care/5-things-that-may-cause-back-pain-after-eating-symptoms-and prevention/#:~:text=Exercises%20practiced%20in%20yoga%2C%20Pilates,chi%20may%20be%20particularly%20beneficial.&text=If%20a%20doctor%20cannot%20identify,ice%2C%20and%20taking%20pain%20relievers.
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