Food Born Illness & Back Pain

Back pain isn't one of the first symptoms that probably enter your mind when you think about food born illness, also called food poisoning. Most people think about stomachaches, which is one of the most common symptoms. If you've been diagnosed with food born illness and you develop lower back pain, you most likely are experiencing referred pain. Referred pain is pain that develops in one part of your body but is felt in another. Talk with your doctor to receive a clinical diagnosis.

Food Born Illness

More than 76 million Americans suffer from food born illness on an annual basis, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. Most cases of food poisoning occur 4 to 36 hours after you've consumed contaminated food. Any food can carry infectious organisms, such as bacteria, parasites or toxins, but the most common are animal food products and produce. Most food poisoning results from improper hand washing, contamination during the manufacturing process, eating left-overs and not properly cooking the food.


Symptoms can take a few hours or over a day to develop, depending on the type of infectious organism affecting your body. The most common symptoms, according to the Mayo Clinic, include vomiting, nausea, fever, watery diarrhea and abdominal cramping and pain. The organism causes an infection to swell the lining of your digestive tract, which causes most of these symptoms. If you develop difficulty speaking, blood in your vomit, diarrhea for more than 3 days, severe pain, a fever over 101.5 degrees, dehydration or the inability to keep liquids down, call your doctor.

Back Pain

Back pain that develops from food born illness is the result of referred pain. Referred back pain is the result of a communication breakdown between your body and the brain. The brain reflects the pain that's occurring in your stomach to your lower back. Referred pain is commonly felt in the lower back when you experience cramping and discomfort in your abdomen. Referred back pain comes and goes often and will vary in its degree of intensity. The most common treatment for referred pain is to lie on your back and rest.


Food born illness is treated with rest, dietary changes and increased liquid intake. Most cases of food poisoning only last up to 3 days. MedlinePlus recommends avoiding solid foods until your bowel movements return to normal. Drink more fluids than usual, but avoid alcohol, dairy products and beverages that contain caffeine. You can also drink electrolyte-infused beverages, such as sports drinks, to maintain hydration. The back pain may be treated with common over-the-counter pain relievers. Talk with your doctor before using any medications.

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