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Common Causes of Referred Back Pain

By Sara Butler

If you think back pain is just back pain, you are wrong. Sometimes when you experience pain in your back it may not actually be your back that is the problem at all. Here is what you need to know about referred back pain to help you understand that back pain isn’t something you should ignore -- it’s something you need to see a medical professional, such as your chiropractor, about to make sure it’s nothing more serious.

What is Referred Pain?

Referred pain refers to pain that is felt in one place but is actually caused by something someplace else. For example, you may have back pain between your shoulder blades that is actually being caused by your gallbladder. Or maybe you have low back pain that is actually an issue with your kidneys. Referred back pain can be caused by a host of health problems that have nothing to do with your spine, some quite serious.

Kidney Stones

Sometimes sharp pain in your lower back is actually caused by kidney stones. Kidney stones are little stones that are a buildup of substances from your urine, such as calcium. They are quite common and responsible for as many as 300,000 visits to the emergency room each year. If you are experiencing sharp pain in your lower back along with nausea and vomiting, it’s definitely worth getting checked out in order to rule out kidney stones.

Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm

An abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) is a rare condition in which a place on the wall of the artery that runs through your abdomen from your heart becomes weakened and enlarged. The danger is that if an aneurysm becomes too large it can burst, and that is a medical emergency.

Most of the time people with AAA have no symptoms, but if an aneurysm is large enough it can cause sudden and intense back pain along with:

  • Clammy skin
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Dizziness
  • Loss of consciousness

This is not something you should ignore. If you experience back pain along with any of these other symptoms you need to get it checked out immediately.

These are just a couple of the things that can cause referred pain. If you experience back pain at any point, talk to your chiropractor about it. They have enough training and experience to know when pain is most likely referred and they can make sure you get the treatment you need if they suspect a serious problem.

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