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“Back Pain & Nausea Connected”

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Tommy Hoffman, P.T. By Tommy Hoffman, Licensed Physical Therapist

Why is There Back Pain With Nausea?

The Feeling of nausea due in part to back pain is a bodily reaction from the release of adrenaline into the system caused by one’s stress.  This response to stress is not terribly uncommon for many back pain sufferers.  Back pain nausea is imposed by a positive feedback loop in the body that can make the condition worse.

Back pain nausea usually happens this way:

First step in the back pain nausea loop: Presence of back pain caused by some known or unknown factor (bugling disc, herniated disc, lumbar sprain).

Second step in the back pain nausea loop: Onset of stress in response to back pain.

Third step in the back pain nausea loop: Release of Adrenaline into the body in response to the stress.

Fourth step in the back pain nausea loop: Feelings of nausea in response to the presence of adrenaline.

Fifth step in the back pain nausea loop: Nausea creates more discomfort/stress on the system.

Usually, back pain nausea only occurs when pain symptoms are extremely high.  The positive feedback loop is usually triggered by subjective back pain symptoms that are usually in the “severe” range.  Since the ability to tolerate back pain is different for everyone, it is hard to predict who back pain nausea will strike.

Back Pain Nausea & Other Causes

Some other causes of nausea may come from sources that actual do not involve back pain at all. However, because they may occur in the presence of back pain, they may inadvertently be overlooked as the root cause.  They include:

  1.  Medication: Many back pain sufferers are prescribed prescription medication by their treating physician.  Sometimes they are given very strong pain killers that can cause nausea.  It is not unusual to have feelings of nausea with back pain in conjunction with strong pain medication.  Sometimes medication can have an adverse affect on the positive feedback loop mentioned above making nausea worse.
  2.  Food Indigestion: Eating food that has spoiled or contain contaminants will cause nausea.  Food indigestion is temporary.
  3.  Pregnancy: In the early stages of pregnancy, women can experience bouts of nausea.
  4.  Menstrual cramps: Nausea can accompany this monthly cycle.
  5.  Other medical conditions: Kidney stones and Gallstones may cause nausea.

Treating Back Pain Nausea?

True nausea from back pain due to the positive feedback loop can be eliminated by reducing both the pain levels and the amount of stress you have associated with your condition.  It is essential that you have an “interruption” in the feedback loop before the body releases adrenaline into the system.

Using pain medication or cold packs to reduce pain symptoms in your back is a good way to start.  Ask your physician which medication if any is right for you?  As you are unable to decrease pain levels sufficiently, seek a reduction in stress.  I have an entire article entitled, “Stress & Back Pain” that will collectively improve your chances of eliminating back pain nausea.

Back pain nausea is not life threatening, but due to the “other” factors listed above, you should seek medical attention from a qualified healthcare professional to properly diagnosis your condition.


Good Luck,

Tommy Hoffman



"Don't spend more time with back pain nausea by not finding out the truth today!"

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