Acid Reflux and Back Pain

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Acid reflux, also known as acid reflux disease or gastro-esophageal reflux disease, is a common medical disorder that is characterized by reflux of acid from the stomach into the esophagus. This acid can sometimes be felt as a burning sensation at the back of the throat and it can cause pain, inflammation, regurgitation, nausea and vomiting. Acid reflux tends to flare up at certain times, especially after large meals, and it can get worse during sleep as your body is in a relaxed, horizontal state which makes it easier for the acid to travel up from the stomach.

Acid reflux is caused by a number of things, although it’s thought that the most common causes are to do with problems linked to the gastrointestinal tract. The most common cause is when the lower esophageal sphincter opens spontaneously without closing, meaning that acid can escape from the stomach and into the esophagus. Pressure under the sphincter can also cause stomach acid to move into the esophagus and there are a number of other triggers that could exacerbate the problem, including eating certain food and drink, having stress in your life, eating too much food or eating food in a disordered way.

Why Can Acid Reflux Cause Back Pain?

The link between acid reflux and back pain is due to the way that acid travels from the stomach to the esophagus. As acid builds up in the stomach and begins to make its way upwards, various sensations can be felt. This will massively vary from person to person, although common sensations include burning pain or feelings of nausea. If pain is felt, it will usually be felt behind the breast bone, in the lower abdomen or mid chest.

If the burning sensation is felt in the chest or abdomen, it can radiate to other areas of the upper body, including the upper back and in some cases the middle of the back. This pain is exactly the same pain that can be felt in the upper chest, just at the back of your body rather than at the front, so try not to worry that there is something seriously wrong as chances are, the back pain is connected to the acid reflux in the way outlined above.

How Can I Treat Back Pain Associated with Acid Reflux?

The first thing you need to do when treating pain associated with reflux is treat the reflux. It’s important to be careful with your choice of pain killer as some medications can cause the acid reflux to be even worse – especially NSAIDs. Treat the reflux by making some lifestyle changes, such as changing the way you eat as well as the foods you eat and by increasing the amount of exercise you do.

Foods such as gravy, chocolate, tomato based sauce, spicy foods, carbonated drinks, alcohol, caffeine, garlic, pepper and onions can make acid reflux much worse so most doctors will advise you to either cut out these foods completely or to limit yourself to a small amount of them.

You should also continue taking any medication that you’ve been prescribed to treat your reflux and you should continue with any changes that your doctor recommends to you – some people do well with sleeping in a certain position and with eating foods at certain times of the day, so work with your doctor to develop a treatment plan that suits you.

Meanwhile, if the back pain is particularly bad, you could treat the pain with heated back pads or with cooling back pads, whichever works for you. Paracetamol is a great pain reliever that could help with both back pain and chest pain.

Speak to your doctor for more information on acid reflux in connection with back pain.