Back pain is usually caused by arthritis or muscle strain in your spine. However, it can be a sign of many other diseases that cause pressure on your nerves in the spine. And this pain can occur at the most unexpected time like when you’re eating, sitting or walking.
If you experience back pain after eating, you may be suffering from a digestive problem called acid reflux or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). But it’s essential that you look at all the other symptoms and possible triggers of the pain. Today, we’ll talk about chest and back pain after eating that’s associated with reflux.
What causes back pain after eating?
Our backs are often victims of referred pain, that is, pain that you experience in a body part that’s not likely to be the source of discomfort.
For example, a heart attack can cause pain radiating from the heart into your back or elsewhere. Ulcers, posture, kidney infection can also cause your back to hurt. But, so does reflux. While the classic symptom of this disease is heartburn felt in your chest, it can also cause upper back pain after eating.
Here are some causes of acid reflux related to back pain:
Nonsteroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs) for treating back pain
NSAIDs are used as pain relievers for pain. These include ibuprofen, aspirin, and naproxen. While many people reach out for these medicines to relieve their pain, research says that they can increase one’s chances of developing acid reflux. Sure, most people using NSAIDs don’t get reflux as a result, but some do.
Stress resulting from on-going pain
Well, stress can be the root cause of many diseases and in some people, it can cause reflux.
Dealing with severe chronic pain can be stressful. Not only can chronic pain cause discomfort but it can limit you from doing daily activities like working or playing a sport. But, if you’re often overstressed, it increases your chances of developing reflux.
Eating trigger foods
Often people with back pain can become less active and eat more. And one of the things that can cause right/left or mid back pain after eating is eating too much or eating foods fatty meals. Also, coffee, alcohol, onion, chocolate, and garlic can trigger acid reflux.
Other risk factors of reflux include pregnancy, obesity, and hiatal hernia.
How to relieve back pain after eating?
Well, simple lifestyle changes can come a long way in preventing reflux episodes. Of course, you’ll need to avoid trigger foods like peppermint, citrus fruits, tomatoes, and the ones we’ve mentioned above as they may worsen your symptoms.
Keeping a food diary helps you identify foods that trigger you.
Also, you should know your medications. We’ve already mentioned that NSAIDs can trigger reflux. Additionally, anti-inflammatory drugs, tranquilizers, anti-depressants, calcium channel clockers, and some contraceptives can cause this condition that irritates your esophagus.
It’s also wise that you avoid eating large meals that distend your stomach.
Try eating smaller meals 4 or 5 times per day. Eat while upright and maintain the same position for a few minutes.
Also, don’t engage in vigorous activities immediately after eating. Instead, give your stomach time to empty.
You should avoid wearing tight clothing that puts pressure on your abdomen.
Again, you can relieve reflux by increasing your saliva production. After eating, one can chew sugarless gum to promote salivation which neutralizes acids and washes it down back into your stomach. However, stay away from peppermint flavors.
In addition to that, try some nighttime strategies. For instance, avoid going to bed immediately after eating, elevate your head when sleeping with blocks under your bed’s leg or foam wedge under the mattress. But, don’t use pillows as that bends your torso which increases abdominal pressure.
Now, for severe cases, a change of lifestyle isn’t enough in managing reflux. If you experience these symptoms, you need to visit a doctor for a proper diagnosis.
- Severe heartburn twice a week
- Difficulty swallowing
- Weight loss without trying
If you’re diagnosed with reflux, your doctor will probably prescribe over the counter medications like antacids, H2-receptor antagonists. Fortunately, most people improve after a few weeks of using these medicines.
In the most severe cases, reflux surgery can be the ultimate solution. This is an expensive procedure, but usually completely solves reflux problems.
However most cases can be manages without surgery or medications, just by changing your eating habits.