Sometimes sharp back pain strikes suddenly and painful enough to stop you in your tracks. It is attributed by number of factors. Unfortunately, the exact cause is not always easy to identify. Even occasionally what causes the pain is unknown. Interestingly, it may occur with some ulcer symptoms in a few cases.
How do you get sharp back pain?
Pain, ache, or stiffness in your spine can be associated with lots of factors that can range from mild to serious. Looking at your smart phone or driving for long periods of time, for example, can cause the gradual neck stiffness. Sitting on your chair for long hours can also contribute to cause a dull back ache. For such cases, the problem often responds with lifestyle measures.
How about acute, sharp back pain? Sometimes it is more difficult to understand since the exact cause is not always obvious.
A mechanical problem within the spine /back is often to blame. In general, the common causes are as follows:
- A prolonged tension /stiffness /contraction of the back muscles, or also called muscle spasm. It can occur due to repetitive strain or trauma. It can lead to acute pain in either lower or upper back.
- Bone fractures that occur in the vertebrae (spine bones). It may be caused by osteoporosis (a disorder that weakens the strength of your bone) or trauma (such as a fall / traffic accident). A fracture of your vertebrae can be so painful (sharp), though not always.
- Slipped disk, pinched nerve, bulging disk, or ruptured disk – also medically called ‘herniated disk’. Sharp back pain, especially pain that shoots down into the legs, is the classic symptom of this bulging disk. It can result from the overly vigorous activity (such as strenuous exercise) or lifting heavy objects improperly.
Infection is also sometimes to blame. A rare condition called osteomyelitis, for example, can also lead to sharp pain in the spine. Infections can affect a bone by spreading from nearby tissues or travelling through circulation (bloodstream). With infection, the pain is usually followed with other symptoms such as fever and fatigue.
Occasionally, acute /sharp pain in the back is not actually back pain at all. For such cases, the pain may arise from somewhere else in the body.
For instance, certain problem in the abdomen (such as ruptured splenic artery aneurysm, a rupture of major artery in the stomach) can also be painful enough to cause acute back pain – as well as pain arising from the kidney and lungs. In these cases, treatment is dependent on the underlying cause.
Sharp back pain and ulcer symptoms
Peptic ulcer refer to an open sore that forms on the inside lining of small intestine (especially duodenum, upper portion of small intestine), stomach, or sometimes in the lining of lower esophagus. It is a fairly common health condition.
Though it is usually mild and treatable, it may turn into serious if left untreated. Poorly controlled ulcer may become worse over time and lead to other health problems.
Normally, acids in the digestive tract are required to help digest foods. But if they are produced too much, they could be counterproductive and cause some health problems. The open sore of ulcer could occur when the amount of acid increases higher than normal which then damages the wall of the duodenum and stomach.
Peptic ulcers are associated with a number of triggering-factors. One of the main ones is bacteria H. pylori infection, though not all people with this infection develop peptic ulcer. The following risk factors may also have a role to break down the lining of your stomach and duodenum:
- Regular use of ibuprofen, aspirin, or other pain relievers /anti-inflammatory medications. The higher dose you take, the higher the risk you have – this is especially true if you take the medication in long term.
- Other certain medications such as radiation therapy or taking steroid with NSAIDs may also have an effect.
- Lifestyle factors such as alcohol (heavy drinking) and cigarette smoking. Both alcohol and tobacco smoke can hurt the lining of your digestive tract.
The most common symptom is pain in the front region of your abdomen. Sometimes the pain can be painful enough to wake you up at night. It usually gets worse with empty stomach (such as between meals), and improves after a meal because foods can buffer the acid. An acid-reducing medication can also help soothe the pain.
Can ulcers cause sharp back pain? Ulcer pain may also spread elsewhere in the body, including the back. But ulcer is more likely to cause pain in other regions when it has become advanced.
People with early stages of ulcer may also experience back pain. But for such case, the symptom usually has nothing to do with their ulcers. It’s more likely to be caused by something else.
Peptic ulcer can also cause some of the following vogue symptoms:
- Changes in appetite such as appetite loss and fatty-food intolerance.
- Changes in weight. People with peptic ulcer can experience unintentional weight loss.
- This symptom may be followed with vomiting or feeling faint.
- Digestive discomfort such as indigestion.
- A discomfort burn sensation in the chest (heartburn).
- Blood (especially dark blood) in the stool – also often called tarry stools.
- Trouble breathing or chest pain.
Perforation is a rare complication of stomach ulcer. It is a condition of when the inside lining of your stomach splitting open, allowing bacteria in the stomach to escape which then may infect the lining of your abdominal cavity called peritoneum. The bacteria may also spread elsewhere through bloodstream, causing a condition called sepsis (blood poisoning).
An acute back pain that signal perforation is usually followed with a sudden abdominal pain (the most common symptom of perforation) which becomes steadily worse. Seek a medical help immediately if you experience this type of pain, because perforation is serious or even could be life-threatening
If perforation is suspected, tests (such as imaging tests) and immediate treatment is required. Resection or surgical drainage is often suggested to help cope with.
Acute back pain may also occur due to other digestive problems. Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), for example, can occasionally cause pain in the back. But back pain is not common symptom of IBS. The common symptoms include abdominal pain, changes in bowel movement (including constipation or diarrhea), bloating, and flatulence.
Peptic ulcer is treatable or even curable. But again, it could turn into serious if left untreated. Furthermore, it’s important to follow the treatment plan as well. An ulcer may fail to heal if it’s not treated properly. For more guidance, talk with a doctor!