Back pain and dizziness can sometimes co-occur. The cause is usually temporary, and the symptoms resolve without treatment. Other times, the cause may be chronic and require long-term management.
Back pain can range from constant, throbbing pain to sharp, shooting pain that may spread down the leg. It can be short-term or long lasting. A person with dizziness may feel:
- lightheaded or faint
- as though they or their surroundings are spinning
This article outlines some potential causes of back pain with dizziness. It also provides tips for treating and preventing back pain and dizziness and advice about consulting a doctor about these symptoms.
Below are some possible causes of back pain and dizziness.
According to the United Kingdom’s National Health Service (NHS), back pain is common during pregnancy, particularly during the early stages. Back pain is usually due to the body’s ligaments softening and stretching in preparation for labor. This can strain the joints of the lower back and pelvis, causing pain and discomfort in these areas.
The NHS also notes that the hormonal changes that occur during pregnancy can cause a person to feel faint or dizzy.
Endometriosis is a condition where tissue similar to the lining of the uterus grows outside of the uterus. According to the Office on Women’s Health (OWH), this condition affects
Pain is the most common symptom of endometriosis, which can include chronic pain in the lower back and pelvis.
According to the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology (ESHRE), people with endometriosis may also experience dizziness or headaches around the time of menstruation.
Doctors use the term “ectopic pregnancy” to describe the implantation of a fertilized egg outside of the uterus — typically in one of the fallopian tubes. This condition can be life threatening and requires emergency medical treatment.
- vaginal bleeding
- feeling faint or dizzy
- pain in the lower back or shoulder
- pain in the pelvis, possibly on one side only
The American College of Rheumatology (ACR) describes fibromyalgia as a chronic condition that causes widespread pain. According to the ACR, research suggests that individuals with fibromyalgia may have an imbalance in certain brain chemicals, which alter and intensify their perception of painful stimuli.
The most common symptom of fibromyalgia is widespread pain. According to the NHS, this pain may be worse in certain areas, such as the back or neck. It may feel like aching, burning, or stabbing. Fibromylagia can also cause dizziness and clumsiness.
Whiplash is an injury that occurs when the head and neck snap forward and backward violently, stretching the muscles and ligaments of the neck. It
The National Institute for Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) lists back pain and dizziness as symptoms of whiplash.
Abdominal aortic aneurysm
An abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) is a swelling in the aorta, the artery that
- high blood pressure
- high cholesterol
- chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
Most AAAs do not cause any symptoms. However, some people may experience persistent or recurrent back or lower abdomen pain.
Sometimes, an AAA can rupture. This is a medical emergency. Symptoms of a ruptured AAA include:
- feeling faint
- shortness of breath
- a fast heartbeat
- sweaty and clammy skin
- a loss of consciousness
The NHS recommends the following ways to help manage dizziness:
- lying down until the dizziness passes
- avoiding getting up suddenly after sitting or lying down
- avoiding bending down suddenly
- moving slowly and carefully
- getting plenty of rest
- keeping hydrated
- avoiding caffeine, tobacco, and other drugs
A person should also avoid any activities that are dangerous to perform while dizzy, including:
- operating heavy machinery
- climbing a ladder
The treatment for back pain and dizziness depends on the underlying cause. A doctor will work to diagnose the cause and devise an appropriate treatment plan.
Outlined below are some general treatments for back pain and dizziness.
Back pain treatments
Possible treatment options for back pain include:
- performing gentle stretches and exercises
- applying an ice pack to the affected area to help reduce pain and swelling
- applying a heat pack to the affected area to alleviate joint stiffness and muscle spasms
- taking a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen
Dizziness often subsides without the need for medical treatment. However, a doctor may prescribe medication to alleviate extreme dizziness or vertigo. They may also prescribe medications to relieve any accompanying symptoms, such as nausea or vomiting.
A person should contact a doctor if they have concerns about back pain or dizziness or if they experience any of the following:
- persistent or recurrent episodes of dizziness
- dizziness accompanied by any of the following:
- difficulty hearing or speaking
- tinnitus, which is ringing in the ears
- vision changes, such as double or blurred vision
- numbness or weakness in the face, arms, or legs
- episodes of fainting or collapsing
- a weak pulse
- nausea or vomiting
- back pain that persists for several weeks despite home treatment
- severe or worsening back pain
- back pain that interferes with day-to-day activities or quality of life
Back pain and dizziness are common, and certain conditions can cause both symptoms.
To manage dizziness at home, people can lie down until the dizziness passes, avoid standing up or bending down too suddenly, and keep hydrated.
A person should contact a doctor if they are concerned about back pain and dizziness or if their symptoms persist or worsen. A doctor will determine the cause and provide appropriate treatment.