Referred back pain


Back pain, at times, can be due to referred pain from another source. Referred pain is pain perceived at a location other than the site of the painful stimulus/origin. It is the result of a network of interconnecting sensory nerves that supply many different tissues in the human body that the pain may be felt at a location other than the site of the origin.

Below are some of the disease processes that can present with back pain:

  • Pancreatitis. This is a condition characterised by inflammation of the pancreas. The pancreas is a large organ behind the stomach that produces digestive enzymes and the number of hormones. There are two main types: acute pancreatitis and chronic pancreatitis.
  • Kidney stone disease. Also known as nephrolithiasis or urolithiasis, is when a solid piece of material develops in the urinary tract. A kidney stone is formed in the kidney and leave the body in the urine stream. A small stone may pass without causing symptoms. If a stone grows it may cause many symptoms including back pain.
  • Urinary tract infection. Urinary tract infection (UTI) is an infection that affects the part of the urinary tract. When it affects the lower urinary tract it is known as a bladder infection (cystitis) and when it affects the upper urinary tract it is known as kidney infection (pyelonephritis). Symptoms of urinary tract infection include back pain.
  • Abdominal aortic aneurysm. This is a localised enlargement of the abdominal aorta such that the diameter is greater than 3 cm or more than 50 % larger than normal. They usually cause no symptoms, except during rupture. Occasionally, abdominal, back, or leg pain may occur.