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We usually have backache and headache in our daily life. There are many causes, symptoms and treatments for these two. Follow BestLifeTips to have a deeper look at backache and headache.
What causes backache and headache?
Upper backache and headache
Sometimes you may experience a headache and back pain that occurs at the same time. There are several conditions that can cause these symptoms.
Injuries such as car accident, fall, or while playing sports, can cause headache and back pain to occur together.
- Poor posture
Poor posture can put strain on your head, neck, and back muscle. Maintaining poor posture over time can lead to the development of both headache and backache.
Headaches and back pain are common during pregnancy.
- Premenstrual syndrome (PMS)
PMS refers to symptoms that occur between the time of ovulation and when a period starts. Headache and back or abdominal pain are common in PMS symptoms.
Various infections can cause headache and backache to occur together. One common example you may be familiar with is the flu.
Arthritis is the inflammation of the joints, which can lead to pain and stiffness. If arthritis occurs in your neck or upper back, you may experience headaches besides back and neck pain.
When should I worry about upper back pain?
Upper back pain, or thoracic spine pain, usually has a musculoskeletal origin and relates to poor posture or overuse injuries.
Upper backache is mostly not serious. But sometimes it may be a sign of a medical issue that needs to be solved.
See a doctor if the upper back pain is:
- Sharp, rather than dull: Could be a sign of a torn muscle or ligament, or a problem with an internal organ in the back or side.
- Radiating to the buttocks or legs: may be a sign of nerve compression or damage.
- Associated with deep inhalations: could be a sign of an infection or blood clot in lung.
- Associated with pain in the chest or upper abdomen: could be a sign of a problem with the aorta or gallbladder.
How do I know if my upper back pain is serious?
Here’s how to tell if upper back pain is serious.
The ache won’t go away: If your upper back is persistently hurting, it may rarely be a sign of a lung tumor. If your back pain hasn’t gone away and wakes you up at night, see your doctor.
- You feel pain in the side, too: Upper back pain is also a symptom of kidney stone. It’s unlikely that this is the only kidney stone symptom you’ll notice though. You may also feel severe pain in your side and back below your ribs. If your pain is severe and persistent, go to see a doctor.
- Trauma: such as a motor vehicle accident or a fall from a height. If you are over age 50 and have a minor accident, see a doctor because even minor trauma may cause a fracture.
- Numbness or tingling: may indicate nerve irritation or damage. It can be an be a sign of a herniated disc, spinal stenosis, or sciatica. If left untreated, prolonged nerve irritation and damage can lead to permanent impairment. If numbness or tingling occurs in the groin or glutes, it’s called saddle anesthesia and is a sign of a serious nerve or spine condition.
- Sudden weakness in the legs: may be caused by compressed nerves. Sudden leg weakness could also indicate a stroke.
- Foot drop: It’s usually a symptom of a nerve problem, a muscle problem, or a brain problem.
- Unexplained weight loss: could be caused by infection or a tumor.
- Prolonged pain (6 weeks or more): Most back pain gets better within six weeks. See a doctor if pain persists longer because there may be a more serious underlying cause.
- Medical history of cancer: Need to rule out spread (metastases) of cancer.
Osteoporosis: Back pain may be caused by fracture because of weakened bones.
- Age over 70 years: Elderly people have an increased risk for infection, tumors, and abdominal causes of back pain.
What organs can cause upper back pain?
Organs like the kidneys or pancreas can cause pain that spreads to your upper back. The heart may also cause upper back pain. The type of pain depends on the cause. It might feel like a continuous, dull ache or a sharp and sudden pinch.
- Kidney stone: When a kidney stone leaves your kidney, it can cause dull one-sided pain in the upper abdomen. This pain may radiate to other parts of the body, including the lower abdomen, groin, side, and upper back.
- Pancreatitis: Pancreatitis, or inflammation of the pancreas, causes pain in the upper abdomen. This pain can radiate to your upper back and worsen after eating.
- Heart attack: A heart attack is a block of blood flow to the heart. The symptoms are different for everyone, but it can cause chest pain that spreads to your neck, jaw, or upper back.
Why does my upper back and chest hurt?
In some cases, you may experience upper back and chest hurt at the same time. There are several causes of this type of pain.
- Heart attack: When you have a heart attack, you may feel pain in your chest. Sometimes this pain can spread to other parts of your body, such as your back, shoulders, and neck.
- Angina: It often occurs when you’re exerting yourself. However, it can also happen when you’re at rest. The pain from angina can spread to the back, neck, and jaw. Angina can be a warning sign that you’re at an increased risk for a heart attack.
- Pericarditis: Pericarditis can be caused by several things including infections and autoimmune conditions. It can also occur after a heart attack or after heart surgery. The pain from pericarditis can spread to your back, left shoulder, or neck.
- Pulmonary embolism: Chest pain is a common symptom of a pulmonary embolism, although pain may spread to the shoulders, neck, and back as well.
- Pleurisy: The pain from pleurisy occurs when the two inflamed membranes rub against each other. It can occur in the chest but also spread to the back and shoulders.
- Heartburn: Heartburn is a burning sensation that occurs in your chest, just behind your breastbone. It’s caused when stomach acid backs up into your esophagus. The pain from heartburn is often in your chest, but you may sometimes feel it in your back.
- Gallstones: The pain from gallstones may be in the right side of your torso but can spread to your back and shoulders as well.
- Pancreatitis: Pancreatitis happens when digestive enzymes activate in your pancreas, causing irritation and inflammation. The pain from pancreatitis occurs in the abdomen but can also radiate to the chest and back.
- Cancer: Some cancers can cause chest and back pain to happen together. Two examples of this are lung cancer and breast cancer. Although pain in the area of the chest is a common symptom of these cancers, back pain can occur as well.
- Herniated disc: A pinched nerve in the neck or upper back can cause pain in the back that radiates to the chest and can mimic heart disease pain.
- Muscle injury or overuse: Sometimes chest and back pain may be due to injury or overuse of muscles. Injury can occur because of things like accidents or falls.
What can cause lower back pain in a woman?
Lower back pain in women has many potential causes. Some are related to conditions specific to women, while others can happen to anyone.
Premenstrual syndrome (PMS)
PMS is a condition many women get before their periods. It has many potential symptoms, and you likely won’t have all of them. The symptoms include:
- Physical symptoms such as lower back pain, headache, fatigue, bloating
- Emotional and behavioral symptoms such as mood swings, food cravings, anxiety, trouble concentrating.
PMS usually starts a few days before your period, and it ends within a day or two after your period starts.
Premenstrual dysmorphic disorder (PMDD)
PMDD is a more severe form of PMS. The emotional, behavioral, and physical symptoms of PMDD are similar to those of PMS. However, many symptoms may be worse. Symptoms typically start the week before your period and end a few days after you get your period.
Endometriosis is a condition where the tissue that lines the uterus, known as endometrial tissue, grows outside the uterus.
With endometriosis, this tissue often grows on the ovaries, fallopian tubes, and other tissues lining the pelvis. It may even grow around the urinary tract and bowel.
Pain is the most common symptom of endometriosis. Other symptoms include:
- Very painful menstrual cramps
- Pain during or after sex
- Low back and pelvic pain
- Pain with bowel movements or urination when you have your period
Very painful menstruation is known as dysmenorrhea. Although it’s usually manageable, it can be very severe in some people.
Pain from dysmenorrhea is usually felt in the lower abdomen, lower back, hips, and legs. It usually lasts for 1 to 3 days. The pain can either be dull and achy or it may feel like shooting pains.
Back pain is common during pregnancy. The most common place to have pain is right below your waist and across your tailbone. You may also have pain in the center of your back, around your waistline. This pain may radiate into your legs.
A muscle or ligament strain is one of the most common causes of lower back pain. If you continue doing the type of movement that strained the muscle, it can eventually cause back spasms.
Sciatica causes a burning pain or a pain that feels like a shock in your low back. It usually extends down one leg. In severe cases, you may also have leg numbness and weakness.
Pain is caused by the bulging disc pressing on a nerve. A herniated disc can also be caused by an injury. The lower back is the most common place for a herniated disc, but it can also happen in your neck.
Degeneration is most common in your neck and lower back. The pain may extend to your buttocks and thighs, and it may come and go. Most people have some disc degeneration after age 40. It doesn’t always cause pain, but it can cause severe pain in some people.
What organs can cause lower back pain?
Lower back pain is most commonly associated with problems of the spine, but inflammation and other problems with your internal organs can also cause back pain. This type of pain usually affects one side of the back, near where the organ is located.
Kidneys help remove liquid waste from the body. When urine contains a lot of chemical substances, more than what the urine can dilute, kidney stones can form, and they can cause a sharp pain in the side and the lower back region.
The pain from pancreatitis may start in your upper abdomen and radiate to your lower back. The pain can be severe and disabling, so be sure to see a doctor right away.
- Large Intestine
Inflammation of the large intestine (colon), or ulcerative colitis, can also cause lower back pain. Other symptoms include abdominal cramps and rectal pain.
The appendix can suddenly become inflamed, causing severe pain that starts in the lower abdomen and travels to the lower back. An inflamed appendix needs to be surgically removed because if it bursts, the leak can cause toxic effects in the body.
Treatment for backache and headache
Back pain will usually improve within a few weeks or months. There are several things you can try to help reduce your pain in the meantime.
There are also some specialist treatments if simple measures are not likely to be effective on their own.
- Stay active
One of the most important things you can do is to keep moving and continue with your normal activities as much as possible. Lying or sitting too much won’t help you recover quickly. People who remain active are likely to recover quicker.
- Back exercises and stretches
Simple back exercises and stretches can often help reduce back pain. These can be done at home.
Doing regular exercise alongside these stretches can also help keep your back strong and healthy. Activities such as walking, swimming, yoga and pilates are popular choices.
- Using painkillers
Painkiller can help relieve back pain. Many types are available to buy from pharmacies or supermarkets without a prescription. You should check the box or leaflet to see whether you can take the medicine first. Speak to a pharmacist if you’re not sure.
- Using hot and cold packs
Some people find that heat helps to ease the pain when back pain first starts. Cold on the painful area can also help in the short term. However, do not put ice directly on your skin. Wrap an ice pack or bag of frozen vegetables in a cloth or towel first.
Another option is to alternate between hot and cold packs.
- Relax and stay positive
Trying to relax is a crucial part of easing the pain as muscle tension caused by worrying about your condition may make things worse. People who manage to stay positive despite their pain tend to recover quicker.
- Exercise classes
A GP may suggest attending an NHS group exercise programme if they think it might help to reduce your pain.
These programmes involve classes, led by a qualified instructor, where you’re taught a mix of exercises to strengthen your muscles and improve your posture, plus aerobic and stretching exercises.
- Manual therapy
Manual therapy is the name for a group of treatments where a therapist uses their hands to move, massage and apply careful force to the muscles, bones and joints in and around your spine.
Manual therapy can help reduce back pain, but it should only be used alongside other measures such as exercise.
- Psychological support
A GP may suggest psychological therapy, besides other treatments such as exercise and manual therapy.
Psychological therapies such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) can help you manage your back pain better by changing how you think about your condition.
If you have an extremely bad backache, your doctor will recommend you to take surgery and procedures depends on the causes and pain levels.
Certain care strategies can help prevent headaches or ease the pain. A person could:
- Use a heat or ice pack against the head or neck, but avoid extreme temperatures, and never apply ice directly to the skin.
- Avoid stressors and use healthful coping strategies for unavoidable stress.
- Eat regular meals, taking care to maintain stable blood sugar levels.
- Get enough sleep by following a routine and keeping the bedroom cool, dark, and quiet.
- Exercise regularly to boost overall health and lower stress.
- Limit alcohol intake and drink plenty of water.
- Take breaks when working to stretch and prevent eyestrain.
Occasional tension headaches usually respond well to over-the-counter pain relievers. But be aware that using these medications too often can lead to a long-term daily headache.
For frequent or severe headaches, your provider may recommend prescription headache medications. Triptan and other types of drugs can stop a migraine attack. You take them at the first signs of an oncoming headache.
To sum up, we commonly have backache and headache in our daily life because of many causes. They’re usually not serious and quickly go away. But consider when they become constant and severe.
- Does ovulation cause back pain
- Legs and lower backache
- Pain in lower left abdomen when coughing or sneezing
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