What’s the Link Between Lower Back Pain and Digestive Problems?

Pain Points

Patients often come in complaining of back and neck pain. Very often they have been treated by a chiropractor or physical therapist repeatedly to find that within a day or two their pain returns. Some may keep going, but never seem to get better.

Why isn’t their pain going away? 

The answer may lie in the link between the digestive and nervous systems. Here’s why. Nerves from the spinal cord connect to both muscles and organs. Those same nerves that link to specific organs in our gut also link to specific muscles in the back and neck.

When you are experiencing stress in one of your digestive organs, that organ will send a message back to the spinal cord via the same nerve that goes to a corresponding muscle. As a result, the corresponding muscle will become tense, contracted and painful. 

You may have heard that left shoulder or arm pain may be the only symptom that a person is having a heart attack. What does this symptom have to do with the heart you may ask? Well, the primary nerves that go from the spinal cord to the heart are also the nerves that go from the spinal cord to the muscles of the left arm. When the heart experiences stress, the muscles of the left arm contract and become painful. The same pattern exists for all our digestive organs. Whenever one of the digestive organs is stressed we get contractions and pain in the muscles that share the organ’s corresponding nerve root. This is why we frequently see patients having the combination of lower back pain and indigestion.

One of the most common patterns we see in our office is chronic pain between the shoulder blades. If you find that chiropractic or physical therapy is not fixing the problem, it’s likely that your pain may be coming from digestive organs such as the esophagus, stomach, small intestine, or from a hiatial hernia.

Another pain pattern that we often see is lower back pain and indigestion. When there is no structural problem like severe arthritis, degenerative joint disease, or a bulgeing disk, lower back pain may be coming from digestive stress. Kidney stress from poor digestion, and large bowel stress from constipation, diarrhea or irritable bowel syndrome are often causes of lower back pain. Hence, lower back pain and digestive problems often go together. That’s why so many patients come to us with indigestion and back pain at the same time, or back pain that worsens when they are having indigestion.

Neck pain can also be caused by digestive stress. The cause(s) are a bit too complex to explain here.  If you want to know more about neck pain and it’s link to digestion, call me at 530-899-8741.

You may find that the key to solving your back and neck pain is found in your gut!

Thanks for reading. Our goal is to help as many people as possible. If you know someone who might benefit from this, please forward it.

Dr. Patrick Giammarise, DC, IHS

Digestion Relief Center, Chico, California

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