What Your Back May Be Telling You About Your Health

Our bodies have ways of letting us know if something is wrong. Sometimes minor aches and pains are just that, but sometimes they are an indicator of a bigger issue. This is often the case with back pain. While it may be common—more than 86 million Americans suffer from it—each case is different and is worth discussing with a medical professional. Below are a few health concerns that your back may be trying to tell you about.


Pain in your back or neck can be the result of sleeping in a funny position or whiplash from a car accident. However, if it worsens and persists over time, it could be a sign of more chronic conditions such as spinal stenosis or rheumatoid arthritis. Another possible condition is osteoarthritis, which is the breakdown of cartilage around the joints. It mainly happens in older people, and back pain may be a good indicator that it is time to seek treatment.

Heart and Lung Trouble

Scapular or shoulder blade pain can be your body’s way of alerting you to a problem in your heart or lungs. Many people mistakenly blame this type of pain on heavy lifting or other strenuous activities. It is hard to tell the difference, so seeing a doctor is a wise precaution if it persists.
Kidney Disease
Pain and discomfort in the middle of your back (particularly sharp, shooting pain) can be an indicator of kidney disease. This type of pain is often on one side of the spine and radiates toward the ribs. It is likely accompanied by nausea, dizziness and/or fever.


You read it right–low back pain can also be the result of indigestion. Though it’s not very common, indigestion and heartburn have been known to cause mild, temporary back pain. However, if your back pain persists for more than a few hours, you may want to consult a physician.

Degenerative Disc Disease

According to Northamericanspine.com, degenerative disc disease (DDD) is a condition in which the discs between your vertebra are worn out. The degeneration can include bulging or herniated discs that simply lose their shape and no longer function to keep the bones in your spine apart. In some situations, treating this painful condition may require an artificial disc replacement or spinal fusion. However, many types of DDD can be treated without these invasive procedures.

Back pain, in general, is nothing to be ignored. Life with chronic back pain can be difficult and even unmanageable for some. Wherever the pain, it could be the body’s way of sending an important message. It is crucial to stay in tune with our bodies and know when to seek help from appropriate medical professionals. Keeping an eye on your back pain could not only lead to relief, but also to a healthier you in the future.

Savannah Coulsen is a freelance  writer. She lives in Raleigh. Savannah loves to read and write and she hopes to write a novel someday. Savannah also loves learning and is a self-proclaimed health guru.

Co author Doug Johnson helped create North American Spine and manages all medical staff, in addition to training physicians