Back pain and bloating often go hand in hand. Given that there are some 100 million neurons in the gut (more than in either the spinal cord or the peripheral nervous system), it’s no real surprise that problems in the gut can lead to pain.
These neurons (nerve cells that transmit signals to and from the brain) help us to sense what’s going on in the gut. This allows us to produce the digestive enzymes we need to break down food, and to perform other important parts of the digestive process.
Back Pain and Bloating
When things go wrong in the gut this can lead to constipation, diarrhea, inflammatory bowel disease, back pain and bloating, and numerous other issues. There are so many potential mechanisms by which poor digestion can trigger back pain, including:
- Constipation leading to straining, which puts pressure on the spinal discs
- Diarrhea causing dehydration, leading to brittle spinal ligaments that tear more easily
- Undesirable gut inflammation triggering systemic inflammation (try these natural anti-inflammatories!)
- Altered production of neurotransmitters in the gut, affecting mood and pain sensitivity
- Impaired absorption of nutrients needed for musculoskeletal health
- Altered immune function, leading to autoimmune conditions like rheumatoid arthritis
- Increased production of toxic substances and gas by undesirable bacteria.
There are also multiple nerves connecting the gut and the lower back, meaning that a problem in one area can cause difficulties in the other. And, simple physics can also connect back pain and bloating. Just think about how your posture changes when you’re bloated!
Gut Dysbiosis and Back Pain
Researchers have found that a significant number of people with inflammatory spine conditions such as spondyloarthritis and ankylosing spondylitis have gut issues. These include subclinical gut inflammation and/or higher levels of undesirable pathogens such as Klebsiella pneumoniae.
Conversely, people who regularly take probiotics seem to have fewer symptoms of degenerative joint diseases. Specific probiotic strains that seem worth a try include Lactobacillus acidophilus, L. salivarius, and L. casei. Probiotics might also help influence the expression of genes associated with various mechanisms behind back pain. We recommend Dr. Tobias’ probiotic formula and have noticed a reduction of back pain after months of taking it.
Correcting gut dysbiosis (microflora imbalance) helps support healthy immune function. This can help prevent the body from accidentally attacking joint tissue, which may then lessen back pain. Healthy gut flora also help to prevent the production of pro-inflammatory substances and gas, reducing back pain and bloating.
So, if you’ve noticed a correlation between pain in your back and a bloated belly or otherwise upset digestion, it’s time to look at your health holistically. If your back pain and bloating are connected, you’ll need to address both to get any real relief.