neck and shoulder pain reliefHeartburn afflicts millions of Americans.  Some risk factors for heartburn include having a poor esophageal sphincter which allows acid to come up into the esophagus, obesity, eating foods high in acid, and lying down too soon after eating a big meal.

In this article we will be talking about heartburn with back pain, symptoms and treatments.

Symptoms of Heartburn

Heartburn can show itself in several different ways.  Not everyone experiences heartburn in exactly the same way. Some common symptoms of heartburn include the following:

  • Mid-chest pain that feels like a burning sensation.
  • The sensation of acid in the back of the throat. This is called “water brash”.
  • Sore throat from acid reaching the tissues of the throat.
  • Pain worsening when lying down.
  • Pain that extends to the back. The esophagus is located near the back so some people feel back pain instead of chest pain.

You may have one or all of these symptoms when you suffer from heartburn.

Back Pain from Heartburn

Some people feel the pain of heartburn in their back.  It can feel like a burning sensation in the back or it can feel like a back ache.  The way you can tell that the pain in your back is from heartburn is that you don’t feel worsening of the pain with movement, the pain is worse when lying on your back, or you have other symptoms of heartburn besides back pain.

The location of the back pain you get from heartburn is rather characteristic.  Rather than having pain in the lower back, such as with a back injury, you have pain in the upper back that extends from the mid-portion of the back, where the stomach lies on up to the area of the neck, where the esophagus begins.  Movement doesn’t change the character of the pain and it feels worse when trying to lie down.

Treatment for Back Pain from Heartburn

If you have back pain and are fairly sure the pain is from having heartburn, there are some things you can do.  Regular painkillers like acetaminophen, aspirin, and ibuprofen tend not to help this form of pain and, in some cases, the pain can be made worse by taking over the counter painkillers.  Acetaminophen might not do anything at all but things like aspirin and ibuprofen may exacerbate the pain by irritating the stomach and the lining of the esophagus.

Rather than taking regular pain killers for the back pain, try taking medication that directly affects the symptoms of heartburn.  These include the following:

  • Chewable antacids. These include chewable antacids like TUMS, which have the potential to take the back pain away rather quickly.  They dilute the acid and create a more neutral pH in the environment of the esophagus, which relieves the pain.  A couple of TUMS, when chewed and swallowed, will coat the esophagus so that the acid no longer affects the lining of the stomach.
  • Liquid antacids. These include things like Maalox and Mylanta. They also affect the pH of the esophagus and work immediately.  They coat the lining of the esophagus so the back pain can be relieved.
  • Histamine 2 blockers. These include things like Tagamet and Zantac.  They work slower but affect the acidity of the stomach by blocking the histamine 2 receptors.  They tend to work in an hour or two.
  • Proton pump inhibitors. These include medications like Prilosec. They also work slower than antacids but are some of the best treatments for heartburn when taken every day.

Always consult a doctor before taking any medicine.

Any of the above remedies will impact your back pain.  Some are taken only when you feel the pain, while others are more for prevention of the pain.

If you deal with other kinds of back pain that you want to ease, take a look at this post – home remedies for back pain.