Although the majority of back pain episodes are caused by injury to one or more of the structures of the lumbar spine, there are several conditions affecting the internal organs that may also result in symptoms of back pain. Back pain from internal organs is often felt on one side of the back, depending on which organ is affected. If you suspect that your back pain may be caused by any of the following 7 conditions, seek medical attention immediately.
The kidneys are bean-shaped organs located on either side of the spine. They remove water and waste from the blood, which is then expelled in the form of urine. When urine has a high concentration of minerals and salt, solid masses (kidney stones) of varying sizes may form in the kidneys. If these kidney stones remain in the kidneys they do not always cause pain. However, if they move inside the kidneys or through the ureters, thin tubes connecting the kidneys to the bladder, they may cause pain on either side of lower back. Other symptoms of kidney stones include pain and/or burning when urinating, and nausea and/or vomiting.
The kidneys are also susceptible to viral and bacterial infections. These infections often result from bacteria entering the urethra from the intestines and traveling up the bladder and to the kidneys, or from a blocked urine flow due to kidney stones, tumors, or other urinary tract issues. Kidney infections may cause inflammation and pain that is felt on either side of the back, depending on which kidney is infected. Additional symptoms include fever, nausea and/or vomiting, and pain during urination.
Fibroids are masses, usually benign, that grow on the wall of the uterus. The cause of fibroids is still unknown; however, they are controlled by hormones, specifically estrogen and progesterone. Fibroids can vary in size and symptoms. While some patients with fibroids do not experience any symptoms, others may experience lower back pain, abnormal menstruation, and frequent urination.
Endometriosis is another gynecological condition that may result in symptoms of lower back pain. Endometriosis occurs when endometrium, the tissue that lines the uterus, grows outside of the uterus, most commonly in the ovaries and fallopian tubes. Endometriosis can result in lower back pain that is sporadic, sharp and stabbing. The cause of endometriosis is still being researched.
Ulcerative colitis is a chronic condition that results in inflammation and ulcers mostly in the large intestine, also called the colon. Symptoms of ulcerative colitis include sharp back and abdominal pain that can be felt on one or both sides of the body, diarrhea, rectal pain, and weight loss. Researchers do not yet know exactly what causes ulcerative colitis, but there are several genetic and environmental factors that may play a role.
Another common inflammatory condition that may cause lower back pain is appendicitis. Although the cause of appendicitis is not always clear, there are several conditions that may lead to inflammation, leaking, or rupture, including a blockage in the appendix and trauma. Because the appendix is located in the lower right-hand side of the abdomen, pain from appendicitis is usually felt on the right side of the abdomen and lower back. Additional appendicitis symptoms include fever, nausea, and swelling in the abdomen.
Lower back pain can be a symptom of pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas). The pancreas is a small gland, located in the abdomen, that helps with digestion and blood sugar regulation. When digestive enzymes made in the pancreas damage the gland, pancreatitis may ensue. Pancreatitis may be acute (short-term) or chronic (long-term) and may cause upper abdominal pain that spreads to the lower back, as well as fever, nausea, and vomiting.