You may be wondering how you could experience back pain after eating as such pain is usually caused by a muscle injury. And you would be right. However, back pain can be a symptom of an underlying health condition existing elsewhere. For this reason, back pain is often called “referred pain.” Let’s learn about the causes of back pain after eating and ways to prevent the condition.
What Causes Back Pain after Eating?
Back pain after eating, or back pain while eating, can be a cause for concern when it does not appear to be related to muscle tension or joint issues. Think of back pain as a reference point due to a problem with another region such as the heart, kidneys, or digestive tract. To determine the exact cause of the back pain after eating, take note of other signs and symptoms.
1. Food Sensitivity
Depending on the type of food you consume, you could have a sensitivity or allergy that triggers a back pain reaction. Foods that can cause inflammation and upper back pain after eating include red meat, dairy, and peanuts. Bread and sugar products may be the source of back pain linked to joint inflammation. With an excessive consumption of nuts, your lower back pain after eating may be associated with kidney stones.
Digestive problems with spicy or fatty foods can cause severe diarrhea issues, and lower back pain after eating may be a symptom. It is important to note any other symptoms, as these two conditions can also be symptoms of another health problem. The food itself may also be the culprit as undercooked food such as eggs may contain harmful bacteria.
We have all been told by our elders to sit up straight at the table. This wasn’t to criticize our posture as much as to prevent issues such as back pain after eating. The distance of your plate from your mouth can sometimes call for you to lean over the table edge to avoid spillage. We can become so fixated on our eating habits that we don’t realize we are hunched over.
As heartburn can be related to several digestive issues, it is possible that back pain after eating is merely a symptom of this condition. The pain can be felt in the middle of the back, and sometimes is accompanied by a burning sensation or a vile taste in the mouth.
A tiny sore or tear in the lining of your stomach or small intestines can cause back pain, especially after eating. The pain of an ulcer can be mild or severe, depending on the severity of the irritation. Ulcer pain in the stomach and back may also be seen with a burning sensation or nausea and vomiting.
6. Kidney Problems
Any issues with our kidneys can result in back pain, as they are located in the lower to middle section of our back. Kidney problems may be caused by kidney stones, an infection, or even an injury to the kidney.
If your lower back pain after eating is severe and accompanied by diarrhea, you may have an inflamed appendix. Appendicitis requires immediate medical attention. The back pain and diarrhea may be present with chills, fever, and stomach pain.
8. Gallbladder Problems
Our gallbladder plays an important role in our digestive process, but many medical professionals do not consider it to be an essential organ such as the liver or kidneys. For this reason, your doctor may recommend removal of the gallbladder due to disease or sever damage. Back pain after eating, specifically in the lower portion of the back, can signal a problem with the gallbladder. You may also experience nausea, indigestion, and chest pain.
Left back pain after eating that radiates from pain in the abdomen may be a symptom of pancreatitis. This inflammation of the pancreas can be caused by gallstones, excessive alcohol use, or a binge. Accompanying symptoms may include nausea and vomiting, rapid pulse, and a fever.
10. Heart Attack
A more common heart attack sign in women is back pain. The pain often occurs after eating, and can also affect the neck and jawline. Other heart attack symptoms include bloating, nausea, dizziness, and excessive sweating.
Back Pain after Eating Treatment and Prevention
If you are experiencing back pain after eating, be sure to note any of the accompanying symptoms. Certain underlying health conditions require immediate medical attention. Otherwise, you may be able to alleviate the back pain with rest and a cold compress. By directly treating the cause, you may be able to prevent back pain after eating. Other prevention measures include:
- Maintaining a healthy diet
- Exercising regularly
- Using herbs to add flavor to food
- Avoiding food sensitivity triggers
- Limiting spicy and fatty food, caffeine, and processed food
- Avoiding raw eggs and raw meat
- Drinking alcohol responsibly
- Reducing stress
To narrow down the healthy foods that may be causing back pain after eating, some dietitians suggest testing your system. Robin Barrie Kaiden, a registered dietitian in New York City, has said that to prevent inflammation, patients may want to avoid tomatoes, eggplant, white potatoes, and peppers.
“No research supports this, however,” Kaiden noted in an interview with Everyday Health. “To find out if these vegetables contribute to inflammation on your body, don’t eat them for two weeks and see if your symptoms disappear – just like you should do with any other potentially sensitive food.”
Back Pain after Eating: A Referred Pain
Back pain after eating can be annoying, if not a serious cause for concern. Whether you are experiencing pain in the upper or lower sections of your back, it is important to note any accompanying symptoms to gain better insight to the cause. The pain may be triggered by an irritation to your digestive track or may be a sign of a distressed organ. Back pain after eating caused by your kidneys, pancreas, or gallbladder may require immediate medical attention. There are ways to possibly prevent back pain after eating.
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Appold, K., “What You Eat May Help Beat Back Pain,” Everyday Health; http://www.everydayhealth.com/news/can-good-diet-fight-back-pain/, last accessed April 18, 2017.