Back Pain and Nausea: Causes & How to Treat It
There is only one thing worse than dealing with dreaded back pain; and that is when you have back pain coupled with nausea. You may think of these two conditions as unrelated, but back pain and nausea are not mutually exclusive.
There are a few circumstances where back pain and nausea can occur at the same time, as there are underlying health-related factors that could trigger back pain and nausea to occur simultaneously.
What Causes Back Pain?
Back pain can be caused by several different components, from sports injury to excessive coughing. Back pain can even be caused by an uncomfortable mattress. The location of your back pain can also be indicative of a more specific cause.
For example, lower back pain can often be related to hip flexor tightness, while upper back pain can stem from poor posture or limited shoulder mobility.
No matter the location of your back pain, acute or chronic irritation can send a pain signal to your brain when your body feels threatened, in order to alert your nervous system to restrict/avoid/limit the action that causes the pain (whether that may be running, sitting, exercising, or any other action).
Be aware of acute or chronic irritation that can lead to back pain caused by the following :
- Sports Injury
- Improper lifting techniques
- Poor posture
- Accident or collision
Back Pain Symptoms
Back pain symptoms can vary depending on the cause. However, back pain symptoms can normally fall under two categories - acute pain symptoms and chronic pain symptoms.
Acute back pain symptoms can include muscle spasms, muscle tightness, swelling, and shooting or sharp pain that appears intermittently or with sudden onset.
On the other hand, chronic back pain symptoms more often include dull pain and muscle stiffness and can last longer than 8 weeks.
Acute back pain often precedes chronic back pain, so it’s important to listen to your body to help prevent chronic back pain symptoms from appearing. If chronic back pain symptoms start to appear, it may manifest additional symptoms and there may be a longer road to recovery.
Can Back Pain Cause Nausea?
Unlike many traditional symptoms of back pain that involve the body’s skeletal or muscular system, nausea is generally related to issues with the digestive system. Gastrointestinal issues can be a common occurrence depending on your eating and lifestyle habits, and this only enhances the relationship between back pain and nausea.
What Causes Back Pain and Nausea?
There are several issues within your digestive system that can cause back pain and nausea. If any of your digestive organs, such as the pancreas, become inflamed, back pain and nausea may not be far behind.
Using the pancreas as an example, the pancreas is responsible for creating and releasing insulin to keep your blood sugar stable, as well as creating the enzymes that digest your food in the small intestine.
If the pancreas becomes inflamed, nausea and severe abdominal pain are common symptoms. With those primary symptoms active, your back can receive additional pressure and strain to compensate.
Another cause of back pain and nausea is migraines. Migraines affect different brainstem areas involved in your body’s autonomic functions (the things your body just does automatically) such as digestion, which can trigger nausea.
In addition, migraines impact endorphin production. If our serotonin (AKA happy hormone) levels are decreased, this can give us feelings of anxiety, stress, motion, sickness, headache, and back pain.
How to Treat Back Pain and Nausea
Treating back pain and nausea starts with easing the symptoms first, and then progressing to long-term wellness.
In order to ease nausea symptoms, steer clear of any strong foods and beverages to give your digestive organs time to relax. There are also over-the-counter anti-nausea medications that can help ease symptoms and normalize your system.
Reducing tension through breathing and relaxation is also a valuable tool for overall full body wellness. Try some breathwork exercises, by grabbing your Yoga Strong Mat, sitting, closing your eyes, and deep breathing - Inhale for 5 seconds, let the belly expand, then exhale for 5 seconds and let the belly collapse. Repeat 10-20 times.
To help deal with back pain, maintaining a consistent exercise routine that includes yoga can stave away aches and pain that can become worse over time. Many yoga poses will help build strength, flexibility, and longevity in your back muscles.
Not sure what yoga poses to try? Sign up for Yoga Strong Active for 30 days free.
Proper stretching and self-myofascial release are also great techniques to stay mobile.
1) Lie on your back and loop one end of the strap into your left foot
2) Grab the other end of the strap with both hands
3) Pull the strap so your left leg raises perpendicular to your right leg on the ground (making an L shape)
4) Flex the foot to increase the intensity of the stretch.
5) Repeat on the other side
Then use your Yoga Strong Roller to enhance range of motion by massaging out muscle tension with this technique.
- Lie face down with your roller under your left quadriceps muscle
- Prop yourself up onto your hands or forearms and slowly roll the length of your quadricep muscle
- If you find any particularly sensitive spots, hold the roller on that spot for 1 minute
- If the muscle tension is too much to bear, reduce the pressure by propping yourself higher up
- If needing a deeper muscle release, slowly bend at the knee like you are trying to kick your butt.
- Repeat on the other side.
When to See a Doctor
If your back pain or nausea persists for longer than 12 weeks, or the symptoms you are experiencing are debilitating, immediately consult with a doctor to help with a diagnosis and determine next steps.