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Back pain can be an indirect symptom of acid reflux disease – a condition that allows stomach acid to travel back up your esophagus. Also known as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), the burning pain that you feel in your upper abdomen and chest can move into your throat and sometimes may even cause back pain. Therefore, it's important to know what risk factors can cause or exacerbate GERD and lead to back pain symptoms.
What is GERD?
The lower esophageal sphincter (LES) is a valve located at the top of the stomach. The LES is supposed to close once food passes through it, but it doesn't always close all the way. When this happens, food and stomach acid move backward from the stomach into the esophagus, causing heartburn and other related symptoms.
Certain lifestyle habits, including eating a poor diet and drinking too much alcohol, increase your risk for acid reflux disease. Consuming caffeine and carbonated beverages, and eating cheese, nuts, chocolate, and acidic and spicy foods can trigger a GERD attack, which often gets worse when you overeat or lie down.
Certain foods relax the lower esophageal sphincter, which allows stomach acid to back up into your esophagus. Other foods and beverages cause your stomach to produce too much acid – another factor that contributes to GERD. When it comes to alcohol-induced GERD, drinking alcohol in excessive amounts can damage the lining of your gastrointestinal tract and stimulate the secretion of stomach acids. Each of these conditions can set you up for potentially suffering from back pain.
Poor Sleeping Posture
If you suffer heartburn at night, you may have a tendency to lie in the wrong position in an effort to ease the pain. Not only can poor sleeping posture put strain on your neck and the muscles of the spine, it can put pressure on the lower esophageal sphincter.
You may find it helpful to lie on your left side or on your back, using pillows to prop up your head and chest. Raising the head of your bed a few inches can help as well.
To prevent neck and lower back pain when you sleep on your side, keep your spine straight by using a neck support pillow and placing a pillow beneath your waist and another pillow under your upper leg. When sleeping on your back, support your spine by placing pillows under your neck, lower back, and knees.
Vagus Nerve Dysfunction
The vagus nerve plays a role in the parasympathetic nervous system in controlling functions of the digestive tract, including food digestion. Since the vagus nerve extends from the brain stem down through the abdomen, damage to this nerve system can impair the function of the muscles of the esophagus. Problems with the vagus nerve also can cause the stomach to produce too much acid, which can lead to damage to the lining of the esophagus, causing GERD and related pain.
A chronic cough is another common symptom of acid reflux disease; therefore, the vagus nerve can contribute to associated back pain in another way. GERD stimulates the vagus nerve in your chest to tighten, causing a dry, persistent cough. Frequent episodes of severe coughing can strain muscles in the chest, abdomen, and lower back.
For further assistance, contact local back pain professionals, such as those from Beltline Chiropractic.Share
9 March 2016