Finding relief from upper abdominal back pain

If you are experiencing upper abdominal pain and have been told it’s possibly related to problems in your back, you might be a little confused by this. This is what is known as radiating, or in rarer cases, referred pain. Basically, this is when pain is felt in a different place than where the problem is. Pain like this makes it hard to pinpoint the root cause, sometimes requiring a frustrating trial-and-error process of exams and imaging with your doctor to locate the source of your pain and symptoms.

The role of nerves in causing upper abdominal pain

There is some debate about how exactly radiating and referred pain occur, but it is agreed that it does involve an issue with the nervous system in both cases. In regard to back issues, the spinal column is responsible for protecting the spinal cord and the exiting nerve roots which transmit sensation throughout the body. If any of the main parts of the spine — the vertebrae, discs and joints — become damaged or displaced, they can compress the spinal cord or nerve roots. This compression can disrupt the transmission of nerve signals to the part of the body they travel to.

The nerves that exit from the thoracic (middle) region of the spine travel around the rib cage, through the abdomen and around the kidneys. So it is very possible that nerve compression in this region could cause pain in the upper abdomen. However, referred abdominal pain is unusual. There are many more likely causes of pain in the area. If you are experiencing severe abdominal pain, seek immediate medical help.

Some of the most common causes of abdominal pain and upper back pain include:

  • Appendicitis
  • Irritable bowel syndrome or Crohn’s disease
  • Constipation
  • Indigestion, heartburn or acid reflux
  • Kidney stones
  • Urinary tract infection
  • Compressed spinal nerves

Treating thoracic spine pain

If your doctor has ruled out other conditions and an MRI or CT scan has revealed that your upper abdominal discomfort is connected to your back pain, it is very often possible to treat the condition with several weeks or months of conservative therapies such as upper back pain exercises or physical therapy. If nonsurgical methods do not prove effective, your physician may suggest surgery to treat the condition and relieve symptoms. If you are being recommended for surgery, contact the dedicated team at Laser Spine Institute to learn more about the advantages of our treatment options.

At Laser Spine Institute, our minimally invasive decompression surgery and minimally invasive stabilization surgery has helped more than 75,000 patients find relief from chronic neck and back pain and is a safer and effective alternative to traditional open spine procedures.^

To find out if you are a candidate for our minimally invasive spine surgery, contact us today and let us review your MRI report or CT scan at no cost.*