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Diverticulitis Low Back Pain

A good starting point in understanding low back pain with diverticulitis is to define what diverticulitis actually is. In cases of diverticulitis, the colon bulges out into “pouches” along weak spots in the colon wall, usually in the sigmoid colon that runs along the left side of the abdomen. These balloon-like pouches are then called diverticula. Many people have diverticulosis without any idea they’ve got it–it’s estimated that between ages 60 and 80, half the people in the U.S. have diverticulitis. When the diverticula become infected or inflamed, the condition is escalated to diverticulitis. When it advances to full-blown diverticulosis, serious complications can arise such as:

•  abscesses
•  perforations
•  intestinal blockages from scarring
•  fistula
•  peritonitis

Often, diverticulitis doesn’t show any symptoms, but in some cases it can result in abdominal pain and tenderness, nausea, vomiting, change in bowel habits or cramping. It can also result in back pain; since there are so many possible causes for lower back pain, it’s easy for a physician to overlook diverticulitis as a potential culprit. Sometimes the pain can even spread to the scrotum, buttocks, hips, thighs, legs, and even shoulder and neck. Obviously this complicates diagnosis even further.

Cases where diverticulitis cause back pain are more common among women and the elderly, or people who are otherwise compromised. What makes it dangerous is that especially among an elderly person or someone with other complications, having diverticulitis advance to the point of back pain means that it’s much more dangerous and harder to treat. An advanced case of diverticulitis can result in a fistula, a connection of the tissues between organs (such as the bladder). That can mean an infection that’s spread to the other organ and the organs sharing their contents, which adds up to a full-blown emergency.

Unfortunately, that sort of back pain can also arise from things like kidney stones or gall bladder problems, among many other things that aren’t related to the muscle strain or orthopedic problems that usually cause back pain. It can make for a scenario where the pain is extremely difficult to accurately diagnose and treat. Your physician will probably start by ruling out the obvious (strenuous activity or the wrong mattress), then work his way to the less-obvious.

The good news is that diverticulitis will most likely present other symptoms other than just back pain (i.e. the nausea, abdominal pain, vomiting, irritable bowel and others we discussed earlier). And remember that before it advances to diverticulitis, diverticulosis often goes for years without showing any symptoms whatsoever. It’s an unusual case of diverticulitis (or diverticulosis) that only causes back pain without any other problems. If your back pain is coupled with other symptoms that would point toward diverticulitis, consider getting a reference for a gastroenterologist from your MD. The gastroenterologist will probably want to do a colonoscopy and run additional tests to narrow down the causes and try to discover any problems with diverticulitis, diverticulosis or other bowel disorders.

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9 Comments

  1. Ivy Jones
    Posted June 8, 2012 at 11:29 pm | Permalink

    I was diagnosed with diverticulitis 3 weeks ago. The pain in my abdomen became unbearable, so I went to the ER. I had been having lower back pain for about 3 weeks prior to the ER visit. It is not a muscular back pain, it is a deep ache like the back pain you experiance when you have the flu. I have been on two rounds of antibiotics and still feel horrible. The pain in my back is, at times unbearable. Is there anything I could do that would lessen this pain?

  2. Steve
    Posted June 18, 2012 at 2:05 pm | Permalink

    Ivy, last year I was diagnosed with diverticulosis, and the first thing I did was change my diet, fiber supplement EVERYDAY and Probiotics EVERYDAY, I have not had a bout of pain since then…

    No diverticulosis is far different then diverticulitis and you need to get with proper medical professionals ASAP and take the most appropriate action needed to control you situation…

    Steve

  3. Devin
    Posted March 1, 2013 at 12:43 am | Permalink

    What a living hell when the first bout of diverticulitis occurred! Having never experienced this before I did what people suggested and changed my food intake to bland, roughage meals whioch, as it turned out, was the wrong thing to do. Now being aware of balancing roughage intake and watching intake of foods that contain seeda I am able to avoid the more serious diverticulitis. What is extremely helpful is my inversion table! Given the collection in “pouches” of food particulate is to be avoided, regular session in the inverted position appears to counteract any of the beginning tell tale signs of on coming diverticulitis attack of gas, bloating and some abdominal discomfort! What an additional benefit this has been beyond the relief to my tight back and body!!!

  4. Martin
    Posted April 5, 2013 at 4:25 am | Permalink

    I was diagnosed with diverticulitis in 1997 after an acute attack which was thought to be appendicitis, on surgery for that they found instead that I had diverticulitis one of which had perforated and caused peritonitis, it was a close call, they repaired the damage and put me on antibiotics for what seemed like a couple of months till I was well again, since then I have had three further acute attacks. Over the same period of time I have had severe back pain which was put down to a number of different causes none of them though seemed to be correct and so I put up with the pain. Late last year I had my fourth attack and the specialist then decided that it was appropriate to have the affected part of my large bowel removed, this was done a month ago, since then there has been absolutely no back pain which leads me to believe that the back pain was indeed somehow related to the diverticulitis. I now live in hope that this is correct and my back stays pain free. Has anyone had a similar experience?. Thanks

    • Lubaabah
      Posted April 15, 2013 at 2:57 pm | Permalink

      Martin
      I’ve been diagnosed recently with diverticulitis and now under antibiotics and a diet. Indeed I’ve been suffering from lower back pain and the physicien took that fact in account. We’ll see after the treatment if the lower back pain persists or not, as well the somehow unbearable pain in the buttocks without any apearend reason!
      Sorry for my English, but it is Not my mothertongue and neither am I living in an English speaking country. Thanks for your understanding.

  5. Ken Ring
    Posted April 27, 2013 at 8:15 pm | Permalink

    I’m a 65 year old guy and I’ve been suffering from IBS and diverticulitis for years. I discovered I had it from a colonoscopy that I had performed in 2004. My dad had this condition and I guess I inherited it from him. Back pain on the left side and butt is a common thing. Also abdominal bloating discomfort and pain. It really sucks! I’ve been on several steroids and antibiotics but nothing seem to work. I then discovered through a good friend suffering with the same thing to try a probiotic (good bacteria) supplement. I’m on a product called ALIGN and things seem to be calming down with the pain and abdominal pressure. So far so good. Talk to your doctors about this.

  6. Posted July 13, 2013 at 7:36 pm | Permalink

    Yes my pain also goes through my left hip leg and around the front as well as lower back

  7. Jen
    Posted November 11, 2013 at 6:10 pm | Permalink

    Thank you to everyone who has contributed to this site. I thought I was the only one who suffers from severe back pain with my diverticular disease. It has been really bad for at least seven weeks despite antibiotics. Diet and rest seem to be the only cure. I did have previous bouts that responded to oral Aloe Vera but not this time. Another trip to the doctors it seems!

  8. Freddie
    Posted February 23, 2014 at 7:54 pm | Permalink

    I too was diagnosed with Diverticulitis, and have Kidney, back pain. I thought it was more of a infection things so I started googling it and came to this site. Im glad im not theonly one. This is very painfull

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