Back pain can vary in severity and type, from sharp and stabbing to dull and aching. Back pain is common, as the back acts as a support and stabilizing system for your body, making it vulnerable to injury and strain.
Vomiting occurs when the contents of your stomach are forcefully ejected from your mouth. Food poisoning and viral infections are common causes of vomiting.
When you experience back pain with vomiting, it’s important to consider when you started experiencing your back pain. For example, forceful vomiting could lead to back pain and strain. Common causes of vomiting include:
- food poisoning
- infections (associated with bacterial and viral illnesses)
- motion sickness
However, back pain and vomiting are also commonly associated with a urinary tract infection (UTI) or kidney infection. These conditions result when bacteria build up in the urinary tract, leading to infection. A kidney infection is the more serious of these two conditions. Other symptoms of a kidney infection include blood in the urine, pain in the side of the torso, chills, and fever.
“Morning sickness” associated with pregnancy can cause nausea and vomiting. Back pain is also common with pregnancy, as the weight of the growing fetus puts strain on the back. Often these symptoms are not a cause for concern for pregnant women. However, when nausea occurs after the first trimester, it may be a symptom of preeclampsia, a condition in which blood pressure becomes too high. If you are pregnant and experience nausea into your second trimester, seek medical advice.
Other, less-common causes of back pain and vomiting may include:
- bacterial meningitis
- Crohn’s disease
- endometriosis, a condition in which uterine cells grow outside the uterus
- a spinal tumor
- uterine fibroids, or non-cancerous tumors in the uterus
Most vomiting will subside within a day. If back pain is the result of the vomiting, it should also subside after a few days of rest.
However, you should seek immediate medical attention if you are pregnant and are experiencing these symptoms unrelated to morning sickness. Also seek immediate medical attention if you experience these symptoms in addition to back pain and vomiting:
- blood in your vomit or stool
- extreme physical weakness
- a severe headache and stiff neck
- loss of control over bladder or bowel movements
- severe abdominal pain
- worsening symptoms
Also seek medical help if your back pain continues after your vomiting subsides, or if vomiting continues for 24 hours.
Medical treatments for back pain and vomiting will address the underlying condition. Antiemetics, or medications that stop vomiting, can be prescribed if your medical situation indicates it.
Hydration is important after you’ve experienced a bout of vomiting, because you lose fluids when you vomit. You can re-hydrate by drinking small sips of water, ginger ale, or a clear liquid electrolyte-containing beverage that does not contain excess sugars.
Waiting about six hours after a vomiting spell to eat can help reduce the likelihood you will vomit again. When you do eat, soft and bland foods such as crackers or applesauce. Eating several small meals a day also helps to keep nausea at bay.
Resting your back is a vital part of treating back pain. You can apply an ice pack covered in cloth for 10 minutes at a time the first three days after your back pain appears. After 72 hours, you may apply heat. Over-the-counter pain relievers, such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen, can relieve pain after your vomiting subsides.
Although you cannot always prevent some causes of back pain and vomiting, you can take steps to reduce common vomiting triggers. Examples include:
- drinking too much alcohol
- eating excess amounts of food
- eating foods that are undercooked
- having excess stress
- poor hygiene when preparing food