What Is the Connection Between Back Pain and Nausea?

Certain internal infections may cause back pain and nausea.
Pregnancy may cause both back pain and nausea.
Stomach issues can also lead to back pain.
A number of infections can affect the internal organs, causing pain and nausea.
Chronic stress can trigger many health issues, including muscle pain and changes in appetite.
Menstruation can cause back pain and nausea.
When the mind has influence over creating bodily illnesses, such as muscle aches and pain, it is often referred to as a psychosomatic condition.
Article Details
  • Originally Written By: Dorothy Bland
  • Revised By: C. Mitchell
  • Edited By: Jacob Harkins
  • Last Modified Date: 22 August 2014
  • Copyright Protected:
    2003-2014
    Conjecture Corporation
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When back pain happens with nausea, it’s usually a sign that either something is pressing against both the back and the stomach or that something is wrong with the nerve synapses running up and down the spine. The spine, which anchors the back, houses many of the most important parts of the central nervous system. Injuries can impact how the brain processes and interprets most aspects of daily life, which can often cause both pain and queasiness. Organ swelling and inflammation can also be the root of the connection. The space between the lower back and stomach is relatively small in most people, and when things go wrong pressure can be put on both places. This is commonly due disease, infection, or injury, but can also happen due to stress, various cancers, or, in women, pregnancy and menstrual pain. A number of different medical conditions can cause these symptoms together, and people who have prolonged pain or who can’t figure out what is causing their discomfort should usually seek the help of a qualified healthcare professional.

Spinal Injury

Injuries to the spine are one of the most serious connections between back pain and nausea. Herniated discs happen when one of the discs or “plates” that make up the stacked spine bulges out and push against nerve roots. This tends to be very painful, and when pain is very acute a person can feel sick or queasy as a side effect. Other back pain, whether from pulled muscles or damaged vertebrae, can lead to similar effects; actually breaking the back, usually because of a fall or traumatic accident, will do the same in most cases.

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The connection isn’t always based on sheer pain, though. When spinal injuries damage more than just bone, muscles, and ligaments and actually sever or twist nerves, nausea can be a triggered response from the brain. Nerves are basically information highways for signals and sensations that run from the brain to every part of the body, and nearly all of them pass through the spine at some point. A back injury that compromises a nerve connected to the stomach or, more commonly, the brain’s center regulating balance, a person can feel both back pain from the injury and nausea from the nerve signal misfires.

Organ Inflammation

Another common connection has to do with organ inflammation or swelling, which can put pressure on both the stomach and the lower back. Internal injuries and tissue damage are some of the primary causes, but abnormal growths can also cause organs to shift, swell, and press against each other. Cancer falls into this category, but is by no means the only possibility; gallstones, benign tumors, and water-filled cysts may also be to blame, and are all readily treatable. None is normal, though, and most medical experts recommend getting help for pain accompanied by nausea that doesn’t go away on its own, that is accompanied by fever or tenderness, or that seems to get worse as time passes.

Stress and Psychosomatic Connections

Sometimes internal swelling is the result of extreme stress or anxiety. People have been studying the connection between emotional well-being and physical health for some time, and while there are a lot of unknowns most experts agree that extreme mental stress can actually lead to physical strain. A person usually has to have feelings of stress or worry for a long time before physical conditions start appearing, but a lot of this depends on the person. Organ swelling, stomach ulcers, and blood vessel inflammation can all contribute to increased pressure in the abdominal region, which in many cases leads to back pain and nausea.

Infections

A number of infections may also be responsible, particularly spinal meningitis. Meningitis is a potentially serious condition involving inflammation and erosion of the cell membranes that surround the spine. It can be caused by either virus or bacteria, and pain and nausea are usually only two of many more troubling symptoms like fever, vomiting, and disorientation. A number of infections can also impact the internal organs — appendicitis is a very common example — but these also tend to be very serious, and should be addressed right away in most cases to prevent serious and illness or even death.

Menstruation and Pregnancy

Women often complain of nausea together with back pain while they are menstruating, likely because of intense uterine cramping. When the female reproductive organs swell and contract, they put pressure on the surrounding areas and pain often radiates outward to the lower back. The same thing happens during pregnancy, and is often aggravated by the pressure the growing baby puts on the stomach; weight gain can also strain the back as the woman struggles to redistribute her center of balance.

Common Treatments and Cures

There is no universal way to treat back pain that happens alongside nausea since there is no single cause, but many people find that applying hot pads, drinking plenty of fluids, and getting adequate rest can help calm the symptoms. Pain that doesn’t go away or that seems to get worse may indicate a more serious problem, though, and medical experts usually recommend that people get a professional evaluation in these cases. Doctors can often bring relief with anti-inflammatory medications; surgery or more invasive corrective procedures are sometimes required if the situation is really serious.

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Discuss this Article

irontoenail
Post 3

@Iluviaporos - The thing that jumps to my mind when someone says that they have been vomiting, especially with dizziness, neck pain or back pain, is that they might have meningitis, which can be extremely serious. It needs to be treated straight away, particularly if it's a young person with the symptoms.

Someone at my high school died from it a few years ago. Her mother thought she only had a bad flu and didn't take her to the emergency room until her fever was really bad.

Apparently one of the best ways to tell if you've got it is to try and put your chin on your chest. If you can't bend your neck that far, and you're showing the other symptoms, you might have meningitis and you should go see the doctor right away.

It's also really contagious, so even if someone isn't going to die from it, they have a social responsibility to make sure they don't give it to anyone else by getting treated as soon as possible.

lluviaporos
Post 2

@indigomoth - It might be related if you are actually getting migraines from stress. They can cause back pain and nausea.

I tend to feel nauseated any time that I am in a certain amount of pain from something, so the effect could be working that way as well.

I don't think I've ever actually vomited from this kind of thing though. If I was at the point where I was actually vomiting I would probably go to the doctor and make sure that there wasn't something serious wrong with me.

indigomoth
Post 1

People in my family often become nauseated when they are under extreme stress, sometimes to the point where they will throw up. And we tend to get back pain under the same conditions, as well as neck pain and headaches. I don't know if it's a genetic thing, or if we all just tend to do what our parents used to do when they were stressed.

I don't think they are related to each other in the sense that a disease is, they are all just symptoms of stress. So that's something you might want to look for if you're suffering from these kinds of unexplained symptoms.

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