Fasting Lower Back Pain: Is it a Myth or Uncomfortable Truth?

Intermittent fasting is where all the craze is now. And it is understandably so. Because intermittent or even regular fasting has been shown to do wonders for our body.

But, nature says every good thing comes with a few dark sides. So, you might have heard about some negative impacts of fasting too. And now having fasting lower back pain might make you wonder, is fasting really to blame? What exactly are the effects of fasting on lower back pain? That’s what we’ll be talking about in this article.

So, first thing first-can fasting help lower back pain?

Fasting and lower back pain

It has been reported that some people experience fasting lower back pain. So, can fasting cause lower back pain? Well, the fasting part itself isn’t directly to blame. There are a lot of other factors at play here.

fasting lower back pain

It depends on the nature of your fasting, your back condition, your overall diet, and your lifestyle. To better understand how does fasting cause lower back pain or doesn’t, let’s take a look at what fasting does in the first place.

Fasting and what it does to your body

Fasting is not eating food or particular types of food for a while. It is an easy way to get rid of the excess pounds for some. At the same time, it can be a way of life or religious customs for others. And this initiates the concept of lower back pain when fasting Ramadan among the Muslim people worldwide.

Related: How Long Does It Take To Lose 20 Pounds?

However, let me assure you that after fasting lower back pain is not true. There are numerous benefits you can get from fasting. And surprisingly, sometimes fasting helps lower back pain.

Benefits of fasting

No matter what reason you have for fasting, it does wonders for your body. It can positively affect your metabolism. Some of the benefits you can expect are:

  • Fasting can help you lose weight. You’ll be taking fewer calories per day. So, you’re bound to lose some weight while fasting.
  • It boosts metabolism.
  • Fasting can improve your lipid profile. It makes your body enter into a ‘fat-burning state’ where it derives energy from burning fat.
  • Fasting can prevent type II diabetes to some degree. It also provides better glycemic control.
  • Fasting stimulates autophagy. This process is linked with removing harmful substances from cells and prevent aging to some degree.
  • Fasting helps release a lot of hormones which are helpful for the body. They include growth hormone, ghrelin, etc. These have positive effects on metabolism, fat burning, muscle gain, etc.

Types of fasting

So, as you can see, fasting influences many aspects of the body. The effects of fasting can vary. Because there are many different ways, a person can fast. Let’s take a look at some of the common types of fasting:

  • Calorie restriction: Here, you eliminate all foods which give calories, that is, carbs, fat, and protein.
  • Nutrient restriction: In this case, you stop a particular nutrient, mostly fat or carbs.
  • Complete fasting: This means no intake of any food or water.
  • Water fasting: In this type of fasting, only water is allowed. And water fasting lower back pain is pretty uncommon.

Intermittent fasting is the most trendy mow among all the fasting types. Here, the body is deprived of calories for a fixed amount of time of the day.

Related: Intermittent Fasting Without Exercise: 5 Proven Ways For Success

fasting lower back pain

Again, there are several forms of religious fasting. Several types of fasting are mentioned in the bible. Muslims must fast for one month a year. Other religions have some forms of fasting as well.

We can now focus on our main discussion, fasting lower back pain, with that out of the way. It will answer the most asked question by my patients “why does my lower back hurt when fasting?”

What causes back pain when fasting

There hasn’t been any concrete scientific research to prove that fasting is the cause of lower back pain. But, few people have complained of it. So, we can’t brush it aside thoroughly.

There are a few theories to explain why some people might feel lower back pain while fasting.

Back Muscle Issues

Your back muscles are the muscles of your body that are used the most. They constantly straighten the spine and keep your body in an erect posture. Thus, they have to carry your body weight regularly.

When you fast for extended periods, you lose weight. And rapid weight loss can sometimes change the way your back muscles have to work. Your body’s balance shifts with losing weight. So, rapid weight loss can put excessive strain on muscles that were previously inactive. This might cause intermittent fasting lower back pain.

Issues with the gastrointestinal tract

Another thing to consider is that when you’re fasting, your gastrointestinal tract remains empty for most of the time. These organs have layers of muscle in them. Contraction of these muscles can make them tone up.

It can also change the pressure put on the back muscles. There are also band-like ligaments holding your spine together. This can put a strain on these ligaments as well. Thus you might feel fasting lower back pain.

Related: Should Yoy Worry About Stomach Pain after Fasting?

Dehydration

If you go on a dry fast suddenly, your body might lose a lot of water. Water is an essential component of the discs which are present between your vertebrae. You can think of water as the cement holding a tall column of bricks together.

Dehydration can take the water away from these discs. This can make them lose their elasticity. Thus you can feel the dry fasting and back pain.

Furthermore, water is essential for muscles as well. The level of water in your body determines the concentration of several essential minerals as well as their delivery. So, this can be the cause as well.


These are all possible reasons why you might have fasting lower back pain. But, as already mentioned, there has been no research on this subject. So, it is more probable that your lower back pain is caused by something else, and it’s made worse by fasting.

So, let’s look at other causes of lower back pain

Lower back pain causes

The most common causes include:

  • Poor posture is one of the most common reasons for back pain. This is more true because many have desk jobs nowadays. So, your back might already be in a bad state. Fasting suddenly may have aggravated the pain.
  • Lack of exercise or movement can affect the back negatively as well and contribute to back pain.
  • Lifting heavy weights can be the culprit too. If you took up the heavy workout with fasting, then these together can cause pain.
  • Trauma or injury to the muscles and ligaments can cause back pain.
  • Diseases like osteoporosis, osteoarthritis can lead to chronic back pain by decreasing bone density.
  • Stress, anxiety, smoking, infection, etc. too can cause back pain.

What to do for lower back pain

So, what can you do to treat your fasting lower back pain? Seeing your doctor is the best idea. Every individual human body is different. And so, your doctor will be able to figure out what is wrong with you and if it correlates to the fasting.

Also, if the pain is severe, or if you’ve been experiencing it for a long time, then you should see your doctor. It is best to rule out any potential disease which may become difficult to treat later on.

In the meantime, here are some things you can try out to relieve that pain:

  • Stop fasting temporarily to see if your pain goes away. If it goes away immediately, it’s best to speak to a trainer or a nutritionist for a more appropriate diet.
  • You should keep yourself active and moving because it helps with blood circulation. But try to avoid activities that make your pain worse.
  • Heat/cold therapy has been shown to improve back pain as well.
  • Try posture correction exercises if you have a bad posture. It’ll save you a great deal of pain later on in your life.
  • Many over-the-counter drugs work great for back pain. They include NSAIDs, pain killers, etc.

Fasting to relieve lower back pain?

Up until now, all we’ve been talking about is how fasting can cause lower back pain. But can the opposite be true as well? Can fasting help lower back pain? It is more likely to heal lower back pain with fasting.

Those who are obese can shed some pounds fast with intermittent fasting. And having a healthy diet with adequate exercise can help in this aspect. Relieving the back of those extra pounds can take chronic back and joint pain away.

FAQ

Does intermittent fasting help back pain?

Although intermittent fasting doesn’t cure back pain, it goes a long way to reducing back pain. It helps to shed extra weight, which puts less stress on the back muscles and joints. Fasting has also been shown to reduce inflammation which can promote healing as well. So you can be sure intermittent fasting lower back pain is simply a myth.

Can intermittent fasting cause kidney problems?

The effects of intermittent fasting on your kidneys depend on your diet and your kidney health. If your kidney function isn’t normal, it is always best to consult your doctor before trying out anything new to avoid kidney pain while water fasting.

If you are healthy, then you have to ensure to drink plenty of water. You also have to get all the nutrients during mealtime. Then, kidneys should be fine. But still, it is best to talk through with a trainer or a doctor before trying any new diet or fasting so that you don’t face the irritating kidney pain during fasting.

Why does my back hurt when I diet?

Your back can hurt when you diet from muscle or ligament pain. Sudden fasting can sometimes make your abdominal muscles tone up, which can change how your weight is transmitted through your back. This can cause muscle pain.

Dehydration and nutrient deprivation with muscle wasting can be responsible as well. But, dieting alone is unlikely to be a cause of back pain. It may have been caused by something else and aggravated by dieting.

Conclusion

It truly is a matter of great anxiety to have fasting lower back pain. But not to worry. Consulting with your doctor and treating the cause can help you get cured in no time.

Samin Ishmam

I'm an aspiring medical student. Studying for tests is a huge part of my life right now, but I try to keep up with the latest innovations in science by reading research papers and attending conferences. My interests lie mainly in cardiology among other fields of medicine. And I love being able to help people get through the low points in their lives, which is why I've chosen this field as my profession. Outside of studies, I love writing and trying to spread knowledge on healthy living among everyone.

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