Experiencing back pain or nausea after eating a meal is usually an indication of a gastrointestinal problem. Several gastrointestinal conditions can cause nausea and abdominal pain that radiates to locations in the back. While some conditions may be mild or short termed, others may be severe, chronic and serious. Report any pain or severe nausea experienced after a meal to a physician who can determine the cause and treat the condition.
The stomach works to digest food by releasing strong acid. Gastroesophageal reflux occurs when the valve at the top of the stomach does not close completely and allows stomach contents to leak upward into the esophagus. In some cases, this will cause a simple case of heartburn, but may become worse and develop into gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD. The pain experienced during reflux may be in the chest and upper back. Nausea may also occur. Severe cases of GERD may eventually cause esophageal varices or ruptures in the esophagus and increase the risk of developing esophageal cancer.
A gastric or peptic ulcer is a rupture or break in the lining of the stomach. Normally the stomach lining is strong enough to resist its highly acidic contents, but if an ulcer develops, you might experience stomach pain, nausea and back pain. Acidic foods and medications such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, including ibuprofen, aspirin and naproxen, may increase the pain associated with gastric ulcer. Doctors most commonly treat gastric ulcer with antibiotics and medications that decrease the release of acid into the stomach to allow the tissues to heal.
A duodenal ulcer is the intestines, usually at the top of the large intestine or duodenum. Pain, including abdominal or radiating back pain in the mid section, may occur several hours after a meal has passed through the stomach into the intestines. Doctors generally treat intestinal ulcers in the same way as gastric ulcers with antibiotics and anti-acid drugs. Left untreated, it may rupture and require surgical intervention.
The gallbladder is a small organ that sits below the liver and works with the liver to digest fats. Development of gallstones may eventually cause the gallbladder to become inflamed and radiate pain in the abdomen and back. Gallbladder disease may also cause nausea and pain, which may be worse after eating a high-fat meal. Treatment for gall bladder disease may include medication or ultrasonic therapy to break up stones, but may also warrant surgery to remove it.
The pancreas is a small organ located behind the stomach, which releases insulin and digestive enzymes. Pancreatitis develops long-term alcohol use, immune disorders or blockage of the ducts inflames the pancreas. Pancreatitis may cause nausea and greasy stools. Abdominal and back pain and may worsen causing chills, vomiting, sweating and fever. A physician should treat symptoms of pancreatitis immediately as it may indicate a life-threatening condition or the development of pancreatic cancer.
- National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse: Heartburn, Gastroesophageal Reflux (GER), and Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)
- National Institutes of Health: MedlinePlus: Peptic Ulcer
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Gallstones and Gallbladder Disease
- National Institutes of Health: MedlinePlus: Pancreatitis