What Organs Can Cause Lower Back Pain?
In most cases, lower back pain is caused by a muscular injury or spinal condition. But, it can also point to a problem with an internal organ. This form of lower back pain can be deceptive, making it difficult to identify the cause of your discomfort without a medical evaluation.
Here, we’ll discuss the organs that can trigger lower back pain, as well as other potential causes.
What Organs Are Responsible for Lower Back Pain?
The organs that can be responsible for lower back pain include the kidneys, colon, appendix, liver, gallbladder, pancreas, and reproductive organs.
Kidney pain caused by an infection, kidney stones, or a kidney injury is commonly mistaken for back pain. Kidney-related back pain may feel dull, achy, and constant or severe, sharp, and in waves. Other symptoms may include:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Lost appetite
- Urinating more or less than usual
- Cramping muscles
- Swelling in the hands, feet, and/or ankles
- Dry, itchy skin
Fecal impaction in the colon can trigger lower back pain. This condition develops when dry stool gets stuck in the colon or rectum, often in people who are already constipated. In addition to lower back pain, fecal impaction can cause abdominal cramping, rectal bleeding, straining while passing stools, frequent urination, and feeling unable to eat.
The appendix is a small tube of tissue in the lower right region of the abdomen. If it gets inflamed, leaky, or ruptures (also known as appendicitis), you may experience sudden pain that starts in the lower right part of the abdomen and moves to the lower back. Appendicitis is considered a medical emergency and requires immediate treatment, as a resulting infection can be life-threatening.
Liver pain often results from liver disease, which is any condition that causes inflammation or damage to the liver. Pain in the liver can also result in back pain. The pain may migrate from the upper region of the abdomen, where the liver is located, to the back.
Other symptoms of liver disease include:
- Swelling and pain in the abdomen
- Jaundice (yellowing of the eyes or skin)
- Swelling in the ankles and legs
- Persistent fatigue
- Dark-colored urine
- Itchy skin
Gallstones in the gallbladder can cause severe pain in the abdomen that radiates into the lower back. Other symptoms of gallstones include:
- Pain in the right shoulder or back, typically between the shoulder blades
- Nausea and/or vomiting
- Fever and chills
- Bloating in the abdomen
Pancreatic cancer can cause dull, intermittent pain in the back. It’s caused by the tumor pressing on the spine. Of course, pancreatic cancer pain differs from person to person and a medical evaluation with imaging tests is required to diagnose the condition.
Other symptoms of pancreatic cancer, aside from back pain, include:
- Abdominal pain
- Lost appetite
- Dark-colored urine
- Itchy skin
- New diabetes, or difficulty managing existing diabetes
Problems with certain reproductive organs can cause back pain. In women, problems in the uterus like endometriosis and fibroids can trigger lower right back pain, along with irregular menstruation, painful intercourse, and frequent urination. In men, prostate issues can cause persistent pain in the lower back, hips, and rectal or pelvic area.
Other symptoms of prostate problems include blood in the urine, painful urination, and painful ejaculation.
How Do I Know if My Lower Back Pain Is Serious?
Your lower back pain may be serious if it lasts for longer than four weeks and is accompanied by other concerning symptoms, such as:
- Unexplained, significant weight loss or gain
- Weakness, numbness, tingling, or lost function in the extremities
- Bladder or bowel incontinence
- Saddle anesthesia (numbness in the buttocks, perineum, and inner thighs)
If you experience persistent back pain with any of the symptoms listed above, seek out emergency medical care. These symptoms can indicate issues with an internal organ or serious spinal conditions like cauda equina syndrome. Cauda equina syndrome can cause paralysis if it’s left untreated, so don’t ignore these warning signs.
How Do I Know if My Back Pain Is Muscular or Organ?
Your back pain is likely muscular, rather than organ-related, if the area feels sore, tight, swollen, and/or bruised. On the other hand, if your back pain feels like it’s only one side of the back, it may be related to the organ in the affected area. Organ-related back pain also tends to be achy and generalized, while muscular pain is typically sharp and more specific.
It’s worth noting that organ problems are often accompanied by other symptoms, such as nausea, fatigue, frequent urination, jaundice, and abdominal pain.
Issues With the Spine and Lower Back Pain
Issues with the spine often cause lower back pain. In fact, spinal issues are a more common cause of lower back pain than organ issues. Some of the most prevalent spinal conditions that cause lower back pain are:
Spinal stenosis is an abnormal narrowing of the spinal canal. This most often results from age-related spinal degeneration, although it can be caused by genetic factors or even spinal injuries. When the spinal canal is narrower than usual, it can impart pressure on the spinal nerves, leading to back pain and neurological symptoms.
Spondylolisthesis is a condition relating to spinal instability. It develops when one vertebra slips out of place and settles on the vertebra beneath it. This throws off the alignment of the spine and can irritate the nearby spinal nerves.
In teens and young adults, overextending the spine during physical activity is a prevalent cause of spondylolisthesis. This is why it’s particularly common in young athletes. In older adults, age-related changes to the spine can lead to spondylolisthesis.
Intervertebral discs cushion the bones of the spine, absorbing impact with every step you take. If one of these discs becomes injured, you may experience persistent lower back pain.
A disc is considered herniated when the jelly-like core of the disc presses out through the disc exterior. This can cause lower back pain and, if the injured disc impinges on nearby nerves, neurological symptoms.
Osteoarthritis is a degenerative condition that impacts the joints. It’s caused by wear and tear, which gradually breaks down the protective cartilage in the joints. This leads to inflammation, tenderness, and pain in the affected joints.
The joints of the spine are called facet joints. Their purpose is to manage the motion of the spine, allowing it to extend within a controlled range of motion. When osteoarthritis affects the facet joints, it can induce lower back pain and tenderness.
Spinal Stenosis & Spondylolisthesis Surgical Cure
Surgical care for spinal stenosis and spondylolisthesis generally involves spinal decompression surgery and spinal fusion. Decompression procedures like laminectomy remove tissue that’s impinging on the spinal nerves, while fusion stabilizes the spine.
Regain your mobility with Premia Spine! Contact us now
Spinal fusion can notably restrict patients’ spinal mobility while creating the risk of adjacent segment disease, among other complications. With the TOPS System, patients can choose a different approach to spinal stenosis and spondylolisthesis surgical care.
The TOPS System is a dynamic implant device that stabilizes the spine without restricting its motion. It moves with the spine, facilitating motion in all directions, while providing lasting pain relief.
If you’re suffering from lower back pain, visit a physician for a formal diagnosis and treatment plan.