Gallstones are tiny stones that are formed in the gallbladder. Gallbladder is a pear shaped bag which lies under the liver. It stores bile. Bile is composed of water, salts, cholesterol and bile acids. The main function of bile is digesting fat from the food we eat. It also helps in absorption of fat soluble vitamins A, D, E and K. Bile reaches the intestine from the bile ducts. Bile duct is tiny tube like structure which carries bile from gallbladder to the intestine.
Concentration of bile or excess of salts or cholesterol in the bile usually gives rise to gallstone formation.The prevalence of gallstones varies widely in different parts of the world. According to an estimate, at least 20 million Americans are suffering from gallstone disease. Out of them, only 20% people who harbor gallstones may become symptomatic.
The cardinal symptom of gallstone is pain in right upper or mid abdomen. This pain can radiate in the back. Pain is due to transient blockage of gallbladder outlet by a stone.
Can Gallstones Cause Back Pain?
Yes in most cases of gallstone colic, the pain radiates on the right side of the lower back. Gallstone pain is always excruciating and it is associated with other symptoms such as pain in right shoulder, vomiting, nausea, sweating, increase pulse beat, irritation, jaundice etc.
Pain lasts for several hours and it is constant, after which it subsides. Pain begins usually after an hour of eating, especially after eating a heavy fatty meal.
Gallstone pain in lower back can be confused with kidney pain. However, in most cases of gallstone colic, the pain begins from the upper right quadrant of the abdomen and then it shifts to the lower back. Both may have excruciating pain.
In kidney pain there may be burning urine, fever, dark brown or red urine etc. In gallstone colic these symptoms are absent. In both cases the pain begins suddenly.
How To Relieve Back Pain From Gallstones?
Since back pain resulting from gallstone is excruciating, the doctor may recommend over the counter pain reliever. In some cases where the pain is not alleviated, the patient may require other stronger medications.
- In alternative medicine, gall bladder flush or liver flush is found to be a popular treatment to reduce pain in lower back caused due to gallstone. Here the patient is asked to drink 4 to 5 glasses of apple juice and eat 2 to 3 apples in a day. It is followed by fasting. Patient has to drink enough lemon juice throughout the day. And at bed time take olive oil mixed in lemon juice. Apple contains pectin, which dissolves and removes the stone in the stool.
- Barberry bark is another herb which is known to get rid of gallstones.
- Acupuncture and massage are also known to relieve back pain from gallstones.
- Treating the pain with heating pad helps temporarily to reduce pain in the back due to gallstone.
- Homeopathic medicines colocynth and lycopodium are also effective in treating gallstone colic.
- Green tea contains compounds that are found effective in reducing gallstone pain. Steep green tea leaves in boiling water for 15 minutes.