Lower Back Pain And The Flu

back pain fluIs lower back pain a symptom of the flu? Is there a link between back pain and the flu?

Every year millions of Americans take to bed stricken with a cold or the flu. The flu, known as influenza, is a nasty virus that is often accompanied by a series of unpleasant symptoms including nausea, fever, sore throat, fatigue, dry cough, runny nose and… back pain.

Back pain?

That’s right, many flu sufferers often experience lower back pain and joint pain as part of their flu symptoms. The back pain itself can run the gamut from an annoying discomfort to extreme, throbbing body aches and tender skin.

Although not all flu sufferers find their symptoms include back pain, those who do will suffer back pain as long as the flu virus persists.

The good news is that as the flu virus works its way through the body, the intensity of the back pain will subside.

But Why Lower Back Pain When Sick With the Flu?

The most common question people want to know is why the flu causes pain the back when back pain is not a commonly accepted symptom of influenza.

It’s no secret that aches and pains are common with the flu; it’s why we feel drained and achy constantly. But prolonged and severe back pain just isn’t considered “typical.”

However… it is exactly those same aches and pains associated with the flu that do cause such excruciating back pain for some.

When you have the flu, you have elevated levels of molecules known as cytokines and chemokines, which are created by cells affected by flu.

Both cytokines and chemokines are pro-inflammatory… which simply means they encourage inflammation. When the levels of both of these molecules are elevated higher than usual for influenza, severe back pain is often the result!

And If You Had Pre-Existing Back Pain…

While there are plenty of people who experience back pain during bouts of flu, there is another reason that back pain and flu are often linked; you have a history of back pain.

If you have recently injured your back or suffer from chronic back pain, this pain will often resurface as part of flu symptoms. Again, those aches and pains commonly found in flu sufferers will bring out the back pain again (or make your back pain worse.)

Sometimes, however, the link between back pain and flu is simply happenstance. The flu is a very common virus and many people suffer from the flu every single year. With high numbers in both populations it is quite likely that they will overlap on occasion (meaning one is not causing the other, you just unfortunately happen to have both at the same time.)

How to Get Fast, Safe and Soothing RELIEF

Back Pain And The Flu

A “Far Infrared” Heating Pad provides fast and deep back pain relief…

Many people turn to over-the-counter medications to find relief from the flu.

First of all, and for various reasons, these are not necessarily your best line of offense or defense against the flu (instead, don’t miss The 11 Best Natural Remedies for Colds and Flu.)

And UNFORTUNATELY the pain killers found in the flu medications will do scant little to help relieve your bad back pain.

What can help you find fast and deep relief from the back pain are:

  1. High-quality topical pain creams such as Rub On Relief®
  2. Far infrared heating pads

And one more solution that can help ease the pain — and (greatly) help to prevent pain, because of how well it fights the underlying inflammation that causes the pain — are “proteolytic enzymes,” which I encourage you to learn about here.

Filed Under: Back Pain
Written By: Updated:

Jesse Cannone, CFT, CPRS, MFTPain Relief Expert, Post Rehab Specialist.

Jesse is the co-founder and visionary CEO of The Healthy Back Institute®, the world-leading source of natural back pain solutions. His mission as a former back pain sufferer is to help others live pain free without surgery and pharmaceuticals.

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55 thoughts on “Lower Back Pain And The Flu”

  1. karen mathes says:

    I just want to thank you for having an explanation of why my back is in so much pain. I am suffering from the flu and I just couldn’t understand why my back was hurting me so bad .

    1. lindsay gordon says:

      Yes I have haf severe back oain with flu and didnt understand why. I am in so much pain

  2. ralph hanson says:

    i like the other people have very bad flue,i get colds etc every year and flue now and then but never had flue this bad.i have has a cold before this flue since oct/nov now its the end of feb and i will be glad to see the end of it.thanks for your explantation ralph.

  3. Josh says:

    I had never experienced this much lower back pain before. I currently have the flu and can say that it hurts badly. My dr suggested I take an Epsom salt bath as it will relieve muscle tension as well as aches. I may just have to do that tomorrow.

    Thanks for posting this

  4. Amy says:

    Gosh, these flu shots are useless. They mask early symptoms of the virus infection, so you can’t really ward it off before it’s too late. I had this back pain (I’ve had chronic pain for long enough to know how it feels and back muscle tightness is not my usual symptom) for days, then severe fatigue, lack of concentration. I didn’t recognize what was wrong with me, so kept pushing through. Only 10 days later some respiratory tract issues and fever showed up. By now I’m totally useless 🙁

  5. John says:

    Interesting. Whenever I get a flu, I feel a heavy discomfort in my back, maybe from my spine and also feel extreme cold. It stops after I take a pill and then I start sweating.

  6. Beatrice says:

    Excellent blog post. I certainly love this website.
    Continue the good work!

  7. Debbie says:

    Thank you for explaining this. I have the Flu and couldn’t understand the SEVERE pain on my lower back!

  8. Debbra says:

    I am grateful for this information. I am three days into the flu and the back pain is awful. I am relieved to know that this too shall pass.

  9. christal says:

    I have severe back pain that I have to lie down on a pillow til it eases.

    1. Kevin Anderson says:

      Yep. me too

      1. Tina Curtis says:

        I place a wooden coat hanger on the bed and lie on it to ease the pain

  10. Admin says:

    Hi Christal,

    We feel that you may find our back pain book helpful and you can get a free copy using the link below.

    It has information to help you regarding the back, pain relief strategies, various treatment options and other many useful tips. We do hope you find it helpful.

    Thank you
    Admin (THBI)

  11. Kevin Anderson says:

    I’m glad this was clarified. When I’m coughing up this mucus just lying in bed my lower back kills me. I’m 45 moving and walking like I’m 95. I’ll be so glad when this is over.

  12. Deb says:

    I have the flu also and my lower back has been killing me for 5 days now. I thought it might be a kidney infection or something. But yesterday a friend told me she has the same thing, and so does her cousin. So I guess it is just part of this rotten flu.
    Can’t wait for it to go away. I found that Icy hot roll on helps with the pain.

  13. Jim says:

    I woke up the other day with SEVERE back pain. (I have l4-l5 fused) I suppose I had the flu because I vomited and had diarrhea, The pain was so intense that I had to go to the ER. As this ever happened to you?

  14. Dana says:

    I can not tell you all how relieved I was to read your posts! The lower back pain has begun to freak me out as I feeI mostly on the road to recovery from the flu but now I am dealing with not being able to move! My sickness began on Tuesday morning feeling a little strange and by the afternoon I felt the need to lie down and really had no energy. It is now Sunday and I have finally turned a corner with the cough and fever and cold chills but beginning on Friday morning my lower back hurt so much that I felt (and still feel) like I could easily break in two! I tried to stretch and do some light yoga on a heating pad and still could not feel comfortable. Even child’s pose is uncomfortable. I am hoping and praying for relief soon! I feel like I have gone from 48 to 88 in one week!

  15. Liz says:

    I also experienced TERRIBLE lower back pain with this flu. It is now day 5 of the flu and my back feels better – thank goodness! Now it’s all gone to my head and sinuses. I just want to feel better. It seems like it is a nasty flu strain this year.

  16. Julie Everson says:

    I thought I was dying!! I’m glad to know that this severe lower back pain is a normal flu symptom. I’m getting my flu shot from now on I don’t care what they put in it. I’ve never been so sick. The first 3 nights I couldn’t sleep at all. These hot flashes are terrible I’m just sweating. The human condition is a fragile one for sure.

    1. denis towers says:

      Exactly. The old deadly human condition is indeed, fragile at times. Then u feel invincible againLoL!
      Don’t worry … the Maker above does know what He is doing.

  17. Len Bodner says:

    Glad I came across this page!! It answered my concern about the lower back pain that started yesterday with this flu I’ve had now going into the third day!! I thought maybe I pulled something when I had to take my dog out , but all I did was walk, so now I know why !! Thanks for the explanation ! To all that are ill, I hope you all get well soon!

  18. Paul says:

    Glad to have found this confirmation of what I’ve been going through for the last few days. Started with a 101.5 fever and then the lower back/sciatic pain started. Can’t get comfortable in any position and the pain is constant and gets worse in waves. The onlu pa

    1. Paul says:

      pain medicine that helped was ibuprofen and the a cold pack. This has been one of the worst flu’s I’ve eber had. I have also started taking 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda in 6 oz water 3 times per day to reduce my inflammation so hopefully that will help. Other symptoms are bad headach across the forehead, painful sinuses and hot flashes/sweats. The fever was only a day and a half so maybe I’m on the mend.

  19. Meg7898 says:

    Thanks so much for this info. My 16 year old son has what seems to be the flu. His back started hurting really bad all over and then today moved to his lower back. I was starting to worry that it was his kidneys.
    I am sure he will start feeling better in a few days. He is only on Day 4.
    I would be leery of a flu shot myself. I heard that the strain of virus people were getting in the flu shot was completely the wrong one so was totally inefective. I have also heard recently that several seemingly healthy people died right after receiving the flu shot.
    I think the best course is to keep a strong immune system and then treat with herbs, good nutrition, homeopathy, should one still get sick.
    I got it too and am 8 months pregnant, age 41 and it wasn’t too bad. I took a ton of vitamin C, D, Cod Liver Oil, Coconut oil, fruits, veggies, echinacea, garlic. My was gone in a week with nothing too serious. I ALWAYS refuse the flu shot. Way too many toxic ingredients including mercury, which has been proven very dangerous for the unborn as well as a cause of alzheimers.

  20. emmo says:

    Hi guys,

    I’m over the flu since last week, but I now have lower back pain, and pain along the back of my thighs, and in all my joints. The pain is enough to wake me up at night, and to interrupt my working day, but a couple of paracetamol are enough to banish it for the day.

    This particular strain of flu started on a Sunday afternoon, and I felt I was recovering (=able to do a proper day’s work) by Friday. Today is the following Tuesday, and although I feel great now, I’m hobbling around like an old man.


  21. Gladys Kangote says:

    Thank you very much about your alert on lower back pain. l have had the back pain for sometime now with sinus, itch inside my ears, cold and sometimes headache. After reading l feel relieved and will have to look for flu medication.

  22. Anita Martinez says:

    I figured out there was a correlation between the flu and the back pain, but I needed confirmation since it started getting worse and worse.
    So I needed to make sure, before looking for other causes.
    Thanks for this information which is a big relief, I know there is nothing else bad but flu.
    It’s been a horrible week of fighting this conditions going from sore throats, itchy nose, and painful coughs with the back pain. I will just have to keep taking natural medecines and let it go away.
    Thanks a bunch.

  23. lisa says:

    I came across this post while searching for lower back pain and flu. I too am in so much pain in the back throat and legs. Having this horrid mucus coming up.

    Thanks so much for the info here, it’s helped me understand the symptoms I’m having and knowing that it’s normal makes me feel better somewhat ☺

  24. Karen says:

    The last three times I have had the flu my back has been killing me. The only thing that has relieved the pain is hotwater bottles. And by that I mean really really hot ones. Mine left red marks on my skin, but they releived the pain to a tolerable level.

  25. Marty says:

    Thanks for sharing this. About halfway through a bout with the flu and my back pain kept me up all night. I’ve had the flu many times before, but this is the first time my back has hurt. Your information helped me understand what was going on. Appreciate it.

  26. Joe says:

    I guess having the flu with back pain is more common as we age. This is the first flu I’ve had with lower back pain traveling down to my hamstrings. I just got over the worst part of the flu (fever, headache, chills) and now I have a slight cough but this morning I woke up from a long sleep with my lower back feeling like it was being stretched. I applied heat, massage and laid down but no help. I curled up like a ball and still no relief. Hopefully it will go away soon.

  27. Meme says:

    Unbelievable!!!! I just had influenza B for 14 days. I thought I was having sciatic pain at first. My hip crests hurt, my butt, my lower back, my groin area, one leg and then BOTH LEGS! i had my husband check my back and so on for a rash… was thinking I was getting shingles or something!!!! No rash, no shingles. EVEN MY SKIN HURT IN THOSE AREAS!!!! A couple days later all of a sudden I was deathly ill with a high temp and in so much pain I couldn’t stand it!!!! I couldn’t stand my pants to touch my skin! I kept thinking my clothes were too tight but when I would check my pants there was plenty of room … they just felt tight to me because my skin was so sensitive! I almost died… I had bronchitis from the flu .. ended up in the ER!!! Then, my husband and child got it!!!! It was a nightmare at my house… really bad!

    1. Barbara says:

      OMG all the above is how I feel now. This is some very painful stuff

  28. Lynn Rider says:

    I’m just waiting for my GP to ring me about my horrendous back pain with the flu when I found this article. I’ve had the flu for 7 weeks so far and gone through every symptom including lower back pain and hips, legs etc along with everything else that goes with it , sinus’s, headaches, coughing, wheezing, nausea, etc etc – it seems to have gone from my lower back to the main muscles either side of my spine now and hurts to cough, sneeze or even go to the loo.

    I have virus’s continually and for a long time as I am immune compromised but at least I know now from reading this it is normal, I was starting to worry as don’t usually get back pain so bad. Thank you.

  29. Ros says:

    Whenevr I have back pain, like now,(yes I have a serious cold/flu) I go to the Chiese Shop for a massage. 5 minutes gives an excellent result and all pain is gone, and doesnt return. Hope this helps someone.

    1. Jason says:

      I was wondering about that….

  30. Jason says:

    I was told I had the flu Wednesday morning and was given a few meds. My symptoms really started about Monday. Here it is Sunday, 7 days later and I’m still laying on a heating pad, pillow and taking anti-inflammatory prescribed pills. I have been doing very easy yoga, soaking in steam room and whirlpool and by taking a Goodys powder…. I’m able to get mobile by lunch. I’m very active, 39 years old and being slowed down by this back pain is very disheartening. I thought I was healthy?!?! Dr said it was “strand B” of the flu….if you get it, I’m sorry! It’s going to suck!!!

  31. Robin says:

    Glad i read this too. I feel like crap. 5 days in on this flu. On my monthly cycle. Already have chronic back pain. I cant get comfortable to sleep. All of my joints and bones feel broken or bruised. Pounding headache behind my eyes across my forehead and temples. Had a fever of 102. Hoping it ends soon!

  32. Skippy says:

    Thank you for this post. I’m wondering if poor posture while coughing for hours cumulatively per day might also play a role.

  33. Christiane says:

    Thank you so much ! I already thought I might have a kidney infection but it doesn’t really feel like my kidneys. Been developing a really bad flu over the past week from just being weak and now coughing and this terrible back pain.

  34. Irfan says:

    Thanku !

  35. betty j hill says:

    Three days ago I woke up freezing and had a temp of 101.3.. I was having a hard time walking and finally slept for a few hours . I turned in my bed and it felt like my back had cracked in two. Walking to the bathroom was very dramatic. It is a good thing I live alone. Every step I took was as if someone was sticking a knife in my back thighs and hips.and I cried out in pain with each step.I took. I was thinking spine infection and then I found this site and was greatly relieved. I have had many surgeries such as both knees replaced, back surgery, and a total shoulder replacement to name a few and the pain I had with them was tiny compared to what I am suffering now. I did rub some Voltaren Creme all over the worst parts of my body and within 5 minutes my pain has toned down to tolerable Now I will try to sleep. Ir has been 3 nights of hell. Thank you for the information and now I know I will survive this too..

  36. sandra winspear says:

    I’ve had flu three days now just got down stairs and got the worst pain in my back and side I screamed with it hopefully it is just flu not my kidneys I’m 67

  37. Carlito says:

    I have a herniated disc that almost never causes me any pain, but after this cold/flu I contracted it has been hellish. 23 years olf, my lower back muscles are on fire, and i have a terrible cough that throbs my back. Codeine tylenol helps for a while, but I know that when this blows over I will be back to good again.

  38. SickAgain says:

    I broke my back over the past 9 days coughing. I have the flu, thought I had meningitis…

  39. Kris Santella says:

    I woke up 6 days ago with severe middle back pain on the right side only. My hamstrings & arms felt as though they were being stretched out like rubber bands. Thinking maybe this torture was from a strenuous kickbox class the previous day, I took some Tylenol which helped a little. Within an hour after waking, the chills started with a low grade fever. Other flu symptoms including burning eyes, dry cough, fatigue, & loss of appetite followed. What perplexed me was the terrible pain in my back. It was utterly horrible! Tried heat, ice packs, muscle rub creams as I don’t like taking medications. Unfortunately, OTC pain meds were the only thing that worked.
    Now on day 6 of this flu, the only symptoms are still the back & leg pain, general fatigue, & cough. This flu that includes back pain is my worst sickness experience to date. So glad to find this article that explains what it’s from.

  40. Maureen Richard says:

    Two days after the flu started the back ache started. It is now day nine and the aches are starting to go away. Tylenol or ibuprofen helped some but not all of the aches. I never knew the flu had such horrible aches associated with it, and could last so long! Glad to have found this post!

  41. Agate Karevoll says:

    There is another element to this, forgotten since the 1950s. Influenza attack the adrenals, discovered during the Spanish flu epidemic. (See dr. Wilson’s book Adrenal Fatigue). That causes weakness in certain muscles, back slides out of alignment. (Dr Goodheart goes into that). Any weakness like that is very painful as I well know. Adrenal glandulars might help if persists.

    With love,

  42. Annie khoo penang says:

    Thank you for very much for the information.

  43. Tina Carson says:

    My 13 year old got the flu in April. He was diagnosed with strand A. After one week his back began hurting. The pain starts in his lower back and radiate upward and is constant. He describes it as being an 8 on a scale of 0-10. He’s been this way for about 2 months. We’ve spent a lot of money on finding out what’s wrong with him to no avail. He’s seen a chiropractor, Orthopedic doctor, Acupuncturist, Pediatrician, and now he’s seeing a Physical Therapist. Now I find this website in my search to find out what could be happening to my son. It feels like a light bulb has been turned on. I will treat him with natural remedies like vitamin c and garlic to attack the virus that may still be in his body. Thanks

  44. Steve F. says:

    I have had a chronic right arm and shoulder condition that radiates to just below the shoulder blade on the right side of my back. I have had uric acid kidney stones once before some 30 years ago. That felt like a knife wound or something ( colic pain that continues until the organ tissue can no longer contract, a slight rest period, then it starts again ). Uric acid and an inability to break down purines in foods like fish and red meat was probably the cause. I wouldn’t wish this on my worst enemy.
    Years later, I began to have attacks of gout in the metatarsal ( large joints of the big toe ) area of first one, then a week or two later, the other foot. Sleeping and walking are almost impossible. Colchicine and vegetarian diet helps but not quickly. I assume none of this is flu related.

  45. Steve says:

    Steve F.

    Highly suggest you consult your physician about the use of both Digestive and Systemic Enzymes to get at some of the root causes of your issue…

    Steve, HBI-Staff

  46. Suzie Mills says:

    I got either food poisoning or stomach virus 10 days ago. Terrible vomiting and diarrhea; worst I ever had. Back and legs are killing me. Haven’t eaten in 10 days..crackers and applesauce.
    Advil helps a little but I am in so much pain.

  47. Janine says:

    I am wondering if the back pain might be related to the kidneys and liver.

  48. Jane says:

    So the back pain is a flu symptom. I thought it was maybe from lying in bed. The sore low back is making it so hard to sleep, yet when I get up I feel weak an nauseous so have to lie down again. The symptoms listed here are exactly the symptoms I have.. but where everything I read about flu says achy muscles and joints.. My pains aren’t so much in the joints, more like sharp stabbing pains everywhere, my foot, toes, my forearm, elbow, shoulder. Thanks for the reassurance.

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