Updated: August 2018
Severe back pain may sometimes be accompanied by feelings of nausea, a side effect which is familiar to people with spinal injuries, slipped disks, and other serious back problems. In fact, pain spikes from a back injury or chronic condition may easily create a feeling of nausea under the right circumstances.
It’s also possible to simply feel nausea as a side effect of medications you might be taking when you already have chronic back pain. However, these two symptoms may be a sign of several medical conditions, some of which can prove dangerous.
Due to the way your nervous system is designed, pain may sometimes be felt in places beyond the point of origin. This is especially true of your lower torso, which is tightly packed with important organs.
Kidney stones are a common example of an ailment which may create pressure to nearby organs from inflammation while also creating back pain and even nausea in more extreme cases. Gall bladder issues such as stones or infections may also cause these symptoms.
Women have two additional possible sources. Ovarian cysts, while usually benign and painless, can sometimes cause a number of symptoms if they rupture or swell beyond normal levels. Pregnancy is the ultimate example of a normal bodily function causing both nausea and back pain.
Even in cases where a woman is not aware of her pregnancy and doesn’t show, the growing uterus will begin to shove organs aside to make room. Morning sickness is the most common side effect, but lower back pain and more urgent bathroom trips may also occur before that telltale “bump” appears.
Not all of the conditions which cause a combination of back pain and nausea are minor. In fact, several life-threatening conditions may also lead to this symptom combo. Appendicitis is best known as the condition which killed magician Harry Houdini, and still causes deaths today if left untreated.
While the pain often localizes on the right side, it may manifest in other places as well. If caught early, the appendix can simply be removed to prevent further risk.
Perhaps the most dangerous source of back pain and nausea is cancer. Many forms of this disease may be found in the torso, and they all become terminal if left untreated. Cancer cells multiply, forming tumors which have similar symptoms to other problems, such as ulcers or burst ovarian cysts.
Over time, the tumors grow, increasing pressure on nearby organs. Depending upon the type and location of cancer, back or abdominal pain and nausea often goes hand-in-hand.
The Bottom Line
There are numerous possible reasons you may feel nausea in combination with back pain. Some of these potential causes are very minor and will often go away on their own. Using an infrared heating pad or good acupressure mat for a few minutes are both good ways to help you relax and feel better.
However, some potential causes of nausea can be very serious and potentially life-threatening. Under no circumstances should you attempt to self-diagnose if you’re having a combination of these two symptoms.
Always consult a physician immediately to rule out the worst possible causes. They may also provide you with techniques to help reduce any chronic pain and lessen the chance of these symptoms coinciding in future.