Upper Back Pain and Burping: How Are They Related?

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Upper and lower back pain is a common complaint for millions of American adults every year. It can be caused by a plethora of reasons – from simple factors like stress to more serious ones like spinal conditions. But if you feel intense upper back pain whenever you eat and burp, then it might be a sign of a more serious health condition related to your digestive system.

So what’s the relationship between burping and upper back pain? Severe pain in the upper back can be triggered by burping if the cause is related to an existing digestive issue like gastroesophageal reflux disease, gastritis, ulcer, or acid reflux. In some cases, the upper back pain may also be caused by something related to an already existing spinal condition instead of being a GERD symptom.

Are Upper Right Back Pain and Belching Connected?

Back and stomach pain are two of the most common symptoms experienced by lots of Americans every year – having back pains is even the third most common reason why people visit doctors. Although each pain symptom is already uncomfortable in itself, it can be extremely concerning when people experience them at the same time too frequently.

Burping and stomach pain can trigger upper back pain when the patient is already diagnosed with a specific back problem. However, it can also be a sign of a more serious problem with the internal organs around the area – like the esophagus, stomach, small intestine, and more.

To understand the possible connection between your upper back pain and belching, here are some of the possible explanations based on certain digestive issues:

1) The Relationship Between GERD and Upper Back Pain

Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is a digestive condition caused by a faulty sphincter muscle at the lower end of the esophagus. Without a properly working sphincter muscle, the acid chronically pours out of the stomach.

Some GERD symptoms include a burning sensation in the chest, backwash of sour liquid, gas pain, chest pain, and a sensation of a lump in the throat. Some patients may also experience upper back or shoulder pain as it radiates from the chest and abdominal region to the back and in between shoulder blades. 

Factors like food intake, NSAID intake, and stress may trigger GERD back pain, so it’s best to be wary of them at all times. Consumption of food that triggers acid reflux may also aggravate symptoms like upper back pain, resulting in decreased mobility.

Some patients may also take NSAIDs for their already existing back pain, but most of them fail to realize that these pills may irritate their stomach lining and cause it to produce gastric acid. Stress hormones produced by the body also alter stomach acid levels and reduce the production of other hormones that protect the stomach from acids. 

2) Why You Might Experience Gastritis Upper Back Pain

Gastritis is a digestive condition that occurs when the stomach lining is inflamed. This causes stomach pain, indigestion, abdominal bloating, and nausea. Abdominal bloating can trigger pain beneath the breastbone, which can also radiate to the back. The pain most patients experience is usually sharp and sudden when they have gastritis.

This condition can be acute or chronic. It can also lead to more serious problems if left untreated, so medications and dietary changes are often prescribed to alleviate the associated upper back pain, ease various gastritis symptoms, and reduce stomach acid. 

3) Can You Have Upper Back Pain With an Ulcer or Acid Reflux?

Peptic ulcer (or stomach ulcer) refers to the digestive condition wherein open sores develop in the stomach lining and the upper part of the small intestine. It usually happens when stomach acid strips the protective mucus of the digestive tract. Some patients experience a variety of symptoms, including chest pain (or heartburn) that may radiate to the back and get triggered by burping or belching. 

Stomach ulcers and acid reflux often have similar symptoms, so chronic acid reflux may also cause referred pain from the chest, stomach, or abdomen. The best way to ease the upper back pain caused by these conditions is to avoid any food that triggers burping and get the underlying digestive condition treated.

Other Organ-Related Diseases That Cause Upper Back Pain

The spine provides great support and stabilization for the body, but it’s also easily affected by different symptoms and conditions occurring in nearby body parts. Aside from excessive burping associated with GERD, gastritis, ulcer, and acid reflux, other organ-related diseases may also be common causes of upper back pain in some patients:

  • Irritable bowel syndrome – This common syndrome affects the patient’s entire digestive health because it includes symptoms like constipation, diarrhea, and stomach cramps. Unfortunately, there isn’t a cure for IBS yet so all treatments are meant to ease common symptoms.
  • Pancreatitis – Pancreatitis occurs when the pancreas gets inflamed as the enzymes work while they’re still inside the organ. Patients may experience chronic or acute pancreatitis, but it’s crucial to get the right treatment to decrease the risk of pancreatic cancer symptoms.
  • Functional dyspepsia – Also known as indigestion, functional dyspepsia causes mild to severe abdominal pain in patients. It’s a digestive condition that refers to an upset stomach without an obvious cause.
  • Hiatal hernia – Hiatal hernia occurs when a part of the upper stomach bulges through the diaphragm. Small hernias are usually asymptomatic, but larger hernias may cause stomach acid and undigested food to reflux back into the esophagus – resulting in the appearance of standard GERD symptoms.
  • Kidney stones – Kidney stones are hard objects made of salts and minerals that develop inside the kidneys. When these stones become too large, patients may experience abdominal pain that radiates to the upper or lower back. Another common symptom of kidney stones is passing small amounts of urine despite feeling the need to pee.

Should I Consult a Doctor About Constant Upper Back Pain and Excessive Belching?

Most cases of upper back and neck pain associated with excessive belching go away on their own after a while, as long as the underlying digestive condition is treated. Patients are also advised to keep track of their own condition by noting which activities, food, or medications make it worse or better.

But if the back pain doesn’t improve after a few weeks, then you might require immediate medical attention. Instead of a digestive issue, your upper back pain might be a sign of other conditions like heart disease, nerve damage, or spinal misalignment. A pain management specialist can prescribe the best pain relief treatment based on your lifestyle and health condition.

What’s the Best Way to Treat Upper Back Pain Due to Gastrointestinal Issues and Burping?

Treating upper back pain caused by gastrointestinal issues like GERD, gastritis, and ulcer involves addressing the specific underlying condition first. It also helps to know what sets off excessive burping and bloating to avoid triggering abdominal and upper back pain.

Aside from the medications and treatments recommended by doctors, patients also rely on different home remedies to help with excessive belching and upper back pain. Lots of over-the-counter medicines alleviate burping and stomach pain caused by heartburn or indigestion, like Pepto-Bismol or Mylanta. Just make sure to talk to a pharmacist or follow the package instructions to avoid overconsumption of OTC medications.

Lying on the side of the body also helps pass the gas in the stomach if the patient belches excessively or they can’t expel air. They just need to hold the knees-to-chest position for a few seconds. They should also eat slowly and avoid carbonated drinks to prevent the symptoms from worsening.

Treating Constant Upper Back Pain at Gramercy Pain Center

If the upper back pain is still persistent after the digestive issue has been solved, then the chronic pain may be caused by another underlying condition. At Gramercy Pain Center, we run some tests first to find out what’s causing your back pain before recommending some of the following treatment options:

1) Interventional Pain Management

Interventional pain management is the practice of diagnosing and treating the cause of the patient’s chronic pain condition. It does more than just relieve pain symptoms – it also provides lasting improvements to enhance the patient’s quality of life moving forward.

Depending on your condition, we can provide different interventional pain management techniques including pain injections, nerve blocks, radiofrequency ablation, spinal stimulation, cryoablation, physical therapy, and more.

2) Pain Injections

Pain injections are an interventional pain management approach that offers immediate and long-lasting pain relief for chronic upper back pain. It’s administered by a pain specialist on the epidural area or facet joint to reduce inflammation of the affected nerves. 

Pain injections work better than oral medications because they bypass the digestive system and go directly into the problem areas. Consulting a pain management specialist may help you know whether you need epidural steroid injections or facet joint injections.

3) Nerve Blocks

Nerve block injections are another type of interventional pain management recommended for chronic, debilitating back pain. When injected into a group of nerves, the medication interrupts the pain signals from reaching the brain to provide immediate pain relief.

There are many different types of nerve block injections depending on the patient’s treatment plan – some of them are minimally invasive and last for a few days while others are long-term and require surgical procedures.

4) PRP Therapy 

Platelet-rich plasma therapy is a type of regenerative medicine that prevents the progression of the spine condition while stimulating the formation of healthy tissues. It’s a revolutionary treatment that uses the patient’s platelet-rich plasma derived from their blood sample to speed up the healing process in the treatment area.

PRP therapy is a safe and effective procedure that’s recommended for patients with soft tissue injuries or chronic pain conditions. It’s also usually done as a complementary treatment to help patients recover more quickly.

Gramercy Pain Center: Bringing You the Best Treatments for Upper Back Pain and More

Burping a few times after eating is normal. But when it’s uncontrollable and accompanied by pain in your abdomen and upper back, then it might be caused by a serious underlying health condition in your digestive or spinal system.

Gramercy Pain Center is home to some of the best board-certified doctors and pain management specialists who can help diagnose the reason for your back pain and recommend appropriate treatments. Take the first step to a pain-free life today by calling us to book an appointment.

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