Can H. Pylori Cause Back Pain?

 

1- H. pylori don’t directly cause back pain.

H. Pylori is a very common infection worldwide. about two-thirds of the world population have h. pylori. 

In the USA, about 35.6% of people have H. pylori infection. the incidence is lowest in children and increases with age (ref).

how common is h pylori in usa with age

The prevalence is more in developing countries. For example, Nigeria has a prevalence of  87% (ref). 

The majority of people with h. pylori infection have no stomach symptoms. H. pylori can cause back pain by inducing gastritis and its complications (as stomach ulcers and stomach cancer).

But…
Can H.Pylori infection cause back pain without inducting gastritis/gastric diseases?

There is no direct connection between H. pylori and back pain. The only link is the stomach pain that radiates to the back. In other words, no evidence suggests that h. pylori can directly cause back pain without causing gastritis or gastric ulcers.

 

2- Stomach pain from h. pylori can radiate into the upper back.

 

H. pylori primarily infect the stomach wall. This infection can be asymptomatic in many cases.

H. pylori can cause symptoms and complications related to stomach infection (ref):

  • Acute and chronic gastritis.
  • Gastric ulcers.
  • Duodenal ulcers.
  • Gastric cancer (adenocarcinoma).
  • Mucosa-Associated Lymphoid Tissue (MALT) lymphoma.

All the above h. pylori-related conditions can cause stomach-related abdominal and back pain. Gastritis, ulcers, and gastric malignancies can radiate to the mid or upper back causing back pain with h. pylori.

Usually, H. pylori-related back pain radiates from the upper central abdominal pain. Other symptoms of gastritis also occur; such as nausea, vomiting, bloating, lost of appetite, and unexplained weight loss.

 

3- The characters of back pain from H. Pylori.

 

The referred back pain from H. pylori-related gastric diseases is usually associated with other symptoms of gastritis. Back pain without upper stomach pain is unlikely to be a result of H. pylori.

The pain from your stomach is characterized by (ref):

  • Upper central abdominal pain (most common site).
  • The pain can occur anywhere from the upper left portion of the abdomen around to the back.
  • The pain is usually dull, vague, burning, or aching pain.
  • Associated symptoms include:
    • Loss of appetite.
    • Nausea.
    • Vomiting (maybe blood if there is a stomach ulcer).
    • Bloating and abdominal discomfort.
    • Unexplained weight loss.

 

4- Is there a link between H. pylori and lower back pain?

 

Interestingly, a link was found between bacteria and back pain in clinical studies. In 2013, Dr. Hanne B. Albert and his team investigated the effect of antibiotics on lower back pain due to disc herniation (ref).

Dr. Hanne tested a 100-day antibiotic course on patients with back pain. People who received antibiotics showed significant improvement over patients who were on placebo. 

The antibiotic-treated group showed significant improvement in lower back pain after 1-year follow-up.

 

But, can h. pylori cause such a condition? 

 

The above study generated too much excitement and controversy. But the subsequent studies investigated the types of organisms, and H. pylori were not on the list.

Bacterial cultures from the vertebral discs of patients revealed an organism called “Propionibacterium acnes” and some other bacterial species (ref).

In conclusion, Some studies link lower back pain to some sort of bacterial infection. However, no direct link was found between H. pylori and lower back pain. 

 

5- When the back pain is NOT due to h. pylori?

 

In the above section, we mentioned the symptoms and circumstances that suggest h. pylori-related back pain.

The symptoms and circumstances below, suggest that back pain is unlikely due to h. pylori-related conditions:

  • Back pain without abdominal pain.
  • Back pain related to Right upper abdominal pain (more suggestive for Gallbladder pain).
  • Back pain without any digestive symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, lost appetite, or early satiety.
  • Back pain that is related to posture and movements.

 

6- Consider Causes of back pain other than H. Pylori.

 

Presence of h. pylori and back pain doesn’t necessitate that they are related. Discuss the issue with your doctor. No one answer fits all.  Each of us has its own circumstances and symptom complexes.

But you should consider other scenarios. Back pain may have its own causes (other than H. pylori).

Common causes include:

 

A- Gall bladder pain.

 

Gallbladder inflammation commonly causes both abdominal pain and back pain (similar to h. pylori-related gastritis). The typical biliary pain (biliary colic) is located in the upper right of your abdomen. 

It is usually radiated to the middle or right upper back. Also, it is associated with severe nausea or vomiting.

Learn more about gallbladder pain.

 

B- Local causes (vertebrae, discs, and back muscles):

 

Such as disc herniation or osteoarthritis of the vertebrae. The back pain is usually not associated with abdominal pain.

The back pain is related to posture or movement and is relieved by analgesics.

 

C- Pancreatic pain.

 

Acute and chronic pancreatitis causes dull and steady pain in the upper central part of the abdomen. in about 50% of cases, the pain radiates into the back.

Learn more about pancreatitis pain.

 

D- Irritable Bowel Syndrome.

 

Irritable bowel syndrome is one of the causes of back pain with gut symptoms such as abdominal pain, bloating, and changes in bowel habits.

Read our in-depth article about IBS pain locations here.

 

E- Others

 

Such as Fibromyalgia, Kidney infections, and gynecological diseases. learn more HERE.