Infections That Cause Back Pain

Back pain is a common and very pervasive problem in the United States, and nearly all Americans will have back pain at some point in their lives. Most commonly, back pain is associated with muscle strains, herniated discs, osteoarthritis, osteoporosis and poor posture. There are many causes of back pain that are not musculoskeletal in nature, such as infections. Any back pain that does not resolve within a few days, does not respond to conservative treatment, progresses, or is associated with other symptoms should be diagnosed by a doctor.

Man holding his lower back in pain.
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The meninges are membranes that cover the brain and spinal cord. Meningitis is a condition involving the inflammation of these membranes. Meningitis can be caused by a virus or bacteria, with bacterial meningitis being much more severe. Symptoms of bacterial meningitis include high fever, headache, spinal stiffness, nausea, vomiting and even back pain, according to the Mayo Clinic. It is important to diagnose meningitis properly to ensure the appropriate treatment. For bacterial meningitis, antibiotics are an effective treatment and can help prevent the spread of the infection to others, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Bacterial Endocarditis

Bacterial endocarditis, also known as infective endocarditis, is an infection that attacks the inner lining of the heart, called the endocardium, and the heart valves. This infection is rare in people with normal hearts, but is a very real concern for anyone who has damaged heart valves or heart tissue. Bacteria that manage to enter the bloodstream lodges on damaged heart tissue and can further destroy the heart. Quick diagnosis and treatment are necessary to prevent severe damage. According to a 1977 study published in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine, bacterial endocarditis may manifest many musculoskeletal symptoms, including back pain.


Tuberculosis is an infection that can attack any part of the body, but usually resides in the lungs. Once the infection lodges in the lungs, explains the British charity TB Alert, it causes symptoms of a pervasive cough that lasts for many weeks and gets worse over time, weight loss for no apparent reason, loss of appetite, night sweats, fatigue and fever. According to, all forms of tuberculosis are curable without lasting effects if they are diagnosed and treated early enough. Only tuberculosis of the lungs and throat are potentially infectious. A tuberculosis infection can travel to other parts of the body and can cause a variety of symptoms, including back pain.

Urinary Tract Infection

The urinary tract includes structures such as the kidney, bladder, the ureters and the urethra. The function of the urinary tract is to eliminate waste. According to the National Kidney and Urological Disease Information Clearinghouse, or NKUDIC, urinary tract infections are the most common infection in human body. The NKUDIC also reports that when the infection reaches the kidneys, symptoms may include frequent urination, painful or burning urination, a feeling of fullness, a general feeling of weakness, back pain, nausea and vomiting.

Is This an Emergency?

If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.
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