What Causes Stomach Bloating And Lower Back Pain?

Stomach bloating and lower back pain can make everyday life difficult. If you experience these two symptoms at the same time, you might feel concerned. For most people, stomach bloating and lower back pain often go away on their own. It just takes a little time and self-care. 

However, there are some rare conditions with these symptoms that are serious and require medical attention. Learn more about what conditions cause stomach bloating and lower back pain, how to find relief, and when to see a doctor.

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What causes stomach bloating and lower back pain? 

Bloating occurs when your stomach fills up with gas or air. You may notice that your stomach is distended or feels hard to the touch. Your clothes may fit tighter. The resulting burping or passing of gas can be embarrassing, but is usually harmless. 

Bloating causes pressure throughout your abdominal area, which can result in stomach discomfort and sometimes pain. There are many potential causes for lower back pain, some of which are minor and temporary. If you know the cause of your symptoms, you can take steps to prevent or alleviate your discomfort. 

Common causes of stomach bloating and lower back pain

Stomach bloating and lower back pain are often related to common causes. It’s important to be aware of these symptoms, including their onset, severity, and duration. This way, you can provide your doctor with accurate information to lead to a proper diagnosis and treatment, if necessary.

Kidney problems

Certain types of kidney problems can cause abdominal bloating and discomfort as well as moderate to severe pain in the lower back.  

  • Kidney stones can cause intense pain on one side of your lower back. This pain is brought on as the kidney stone passes through the ureter (the tube that connects your kidney to the bladder). This pain and discomfort can then radiate to the stomach, resulting in abdominal discomfort, nausea, and vomiting.

  •  Kidney infections can cause pain in your back, side, or groin. This condition typically reflects complications or progression of a bladder infection. You may also have the urge to urinate more often than usual. Abdominal symptoms such as bloating or a feeling of pressure are also common.

Food allergies and intolerances 

Food and beverages are often linked to stomach bloating and other abdominal symptoms like diarrhea and flatulence. If you experience bloating on a regular basis, you may want to examine your diet. 

Research estimates that more than 20% of people living in industrialized countries¹ have some type of food intolerance or food allergy. While some people use the terms "intolerance" and "allergy" interchangeably, they are two different reactions. If you have a true allergy, the food causes an immune system reaction. These types of immune responses — such as anaphylactic shock — can be life-threatening.  A food intolerance, while uncomfortable, does not involve the immune system. 

Lactose intolerance is a common cause of stomach bloating. It is estimated that 68% of the world's population² is lactose intolerant. Lactose is found in animal milk and milk-based foods such as cheese and ice cream. 

You can keep a food diary to note any connections between certain foods and bloating. You may find that you can eat small amounts of the offending food. Or, over-the-counter supplements like Lactaid and Beano can provide relief. 

Some foods that cause stomach bloating are healthy and contain important vitamins. Before you eliminate a food group from your diet, consult with your doctor or registered dietitian. 

You should also see a healthcare professional if you suspect your stomach bloating and lower back pain are diet-related, but you can’t pinpoint which foods may be the cause.

Pregnancy

If you’re pregnant, it can  be difficult to know which symptoms are normal and which are a cause for concern. Pregnancy-related bloating and back pain can have several causes. As your uterus grows, it puts pressure on your intestines. In addition, weight gain due to pregnancy can result in discomfort or even pain in the lower back area.

Some women worry about being able to distinguish between gas pains, lower back aches, and contractions. Labor contractions become stronger and last longer as they progress, and often feel like menstrual cramps.

If you are pregnant and worried about stomach bloating or back pain, it is always better to err on the side of caution. Call your doctor if your symptoms are worrisome.

Ectopic pregnancy

An ectopic pregnancy occurs when the fertilized egg attaches outside of the uterus, usually to the Fallopian tube. Rarely, ectopic pregnancies can occur in the cervix or abdominal cavity. These pregnancies can start out normally, but the fertilized egg can't continue to grow outside the uterus. 

Early signs of an ectopic pregnancy can mimic a healthy pregnancy, such as breast tenderness, low back pain, and bloating. Other symptoms of an ectopic pregnancy can include rectal pressure, vaginal bleeding, and pelvic pain. The pain associated with an ectopic pregnancy may come on suddenly and is often severe. An ectopic pregnancy is considered a medical emergency. 

Endometriosis

The tissue inside of your uterus is called endometrium. Endometriosis occurs when endometrium-like tissue grows outside of your uterus. Such tissue can be found growing throughout your pelvic region, including your ovaries and bowels. This can lead to pain and discomfort in the stomach and lower back area.

Researchers estimate that 11% of women in the US³ have endometriosis. Inflammation and endometrial cysts can result in stomach bloating and pressure on the lower back. This condition is often painful and symptoms should be reported to your doctor immediately.

Premenstrual syndrome (PMS)

Bloating and back pain are common symptoms of premenstrual symptoms. Stomach bloating can be caused by falling estrogen and progesterone levels during this part of the menstrual cycle. Typically, once your period starts, PMS-associated bloating goes away on its own. 

Before and even during your period, you may experience lower back issues that register from mild discomfort to severe pain. This is often due to menstrual cramping or uterine contractions, and can be alleviated by many over-the-counter medications. Be sure to consult your doctor if these symptoms worsen over time.

Back injury

Our backs are susceptible to several types of injuries that can cause a range of discomfort and pain. These injuries may include anything from slight muscle strains to a herniated disc.

Serious back problems, such as those associated with herniated discs, can result in pain that expands from the lower back to other areas of the body. This can include pressure and feelings of bloat in the stomach area.

Stress

Stress and anxiety can lead to many physical symptoms, including stomach bloating and back pain. Many people under high levels of stress will experience tension in their muscles, which can result in pain in the lower back. In addition, stress is often the cause of gastric issues that can result in stomach bloating and pain.

Rarer causes of stomach bloating and lower back pain

Stomach bloating and lower back pain can also be indicators of rarer causes. Therefore, it’s best to consult a healthcare professional to rule out any serious medical conditions.

Ovarian cancer 

Ovarian cancer is rare in the US. According to data collected by the National Institutes of Health – National Cancer Institute, approximately 1% of women⁴ will be diagnosed with ovarian cancer during their lifetime. 

If you have a family history of ovarian, breast, and colorectal cancers, let your doctor know. You may be at an increased risk for ovarian cancer. 

Both bloating and lower back pain are common signs of ovarian cancer. Bloating may be accompanied by gas, constipation, and feelings of pressure or pain in the abdomen. In addition, many women with ovarian cancer report persistent pain and dull ache in the lower back area.

Treatment for ovarian cancer depends on the type of cancer and stage of the disease. Available treatments include radiation, chemotherapy, and surgery. 

Pancreatic cancer

Pancreatic cancer can be difficult to diagnose. Its signs are often difficult to pinpoint and they typically resemble symptoms associated with other conditions.

However, abdominal issues such as bloating and pain in the mid to lower back are commonly occurring signs of pancreatic cancer. This type of cancer typically leads to problems with digestion, often resulting in gas and stomach bloating. In addition, extra fluid may build up in the abdomen, causing swelling and distension that can feel like bloat.

If a tumor is present, it may cause pain in the abdominal and lower back area. This may be due to pressure from the tumor against nerves or organs near the pancreas. Some pancreatic tumors can even result in blockage of the digestive tract.

Abdominal aortic aneurysm

Abdominal aortic aneurysms (AAA) occur in the lower area of the aorta, which is the main blood vessel and supplier of blood in the body. AAA are enlarged areas that can potentially rupture in the aorta. This can be life-threatening due to internal bleeding.

Sudden, severe, and extreme back pain can be a sign of an abdominal aortic aneurysm that has expanded or ruptured. Abdominal pain and feelings of stomach bloat combined with such intense and unexplained back pain can indicate an acute problem due to AAA. If you experience such symptoms, seek medical care immediately.

Detecting AAA early is essential to avoid rupture. Once a rupture takes place, it can be difficult to recover. If you are diagnosed with AAA, your doctor will provide treatment based on its size and growth. This condition will be closely monitored in case surgery is required.

Treatment for stomach bloating and lower back pain

How you treat your stomach bloating and lower back pain depends on the potential causes or underlying condition. Intense and/or persistent bloating and pain should be treated by a healthcare professional.

In addition to any condition-specific treatment recommended by your healthcare team, you may find relief through home remedies such as:

  • Over the counter (OTC) pain relievers

  • Ice or heat

  • Rest

  • Dietary changes

If your symptoms come on suddenly, or last for an extended period of time, and you can’t identify the cause, see your doctor. 

When should you see a doctor?

Stomach bloating and lower back pain often go away on their own or are alleviated through OTC medication and home remedies. However, you should consult with your healthcare provider if your symptoms come on suddenly, are unexplained, or are persistent and severe enough that they interfere with your daily activities. 

Stomach bloating and/or lower back pain may indicate a serious condition if accompanied by:

  • Bloody stools

  • Urine that contains blood and/or pus, is cloudy, or foul-smelling

  • Chest pain

  • Uncontrolled vomiting

  • Difficulty breathing

  • Fever

  • Painful urination or difficulty in urination

  • Dizziness 

  • Loss of consciousness

  • Unexplained weight loss

  • Difficulty swallowing

If you are pregnant, contact your doctor immediately about any worrisome or unusual symptoms.

The lowdown

Stomach bloating and lower back pain are common, occasional ailments for many people. These symptoms often go away on their own or can be alleviated through self-care methods. However, sudden, severe, and/or persistent stomach bloating and lower back pain should be treated by a medical professional as soon as possible.

Call your doctor if you experience intense or unexplained symptoms, especially if they do not resolve on their own within a short period of time. If you are pregnant and have worrisome symptoms, err on the side of caution and call your healthcare provider right away.

Have you considered clinical trials for Lower back pain?

We make it easy for you to participate in a clinical trial for Lower back pain, and get access to the latest treatments not yet widely available - and be a part of finding a cure.

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