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Sore Throat and Lower Back Pain- Causes, Symptoms and Remedies

What’s worse than a sore throat? A sore throat that comes with back pain. Nothing is as annoying as having your voice rendered inaudible by a bad throat and not being able to move thanks to a bad case of back ache. But what’s the link? How do two seemingly unrelated parts of the body get sick at the same time? And more importantly, how do you save yourself?

The human body is a fascinating thing and you’ll be surprised to know how two seemingly distant organs can be vulnerable to the same pathogenic factors. In this article, we will solve the mystery of sore throat and lower back pain by showing you the diseases that cause them. If you find your symptoms to be the same as any of the ones mentioned in this list, visit your nearest hospital or doctor’s office for a checkup. Now without further ado, let’s get to it.

What is Sore Throat

Sore throat is a scratchy irritation felt in the throat that causes general discomfort and worsens when swallowing. Sore throat is a very common problem and is often seen with cold, flu or any kind of viral infection. It normally is resolved by itself as the infection is overcome by the immune system of the body.

The most common forms of sore throat are common cold, Influenza (flu), Measles, Chickenpox, Allergies, etc. However sore throat can also be caused by other disorders such as GERD, HIV, Tumors but these tend to be very rare.

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Symptoms of Sore Throat:

  • Scratchy sensation in the throat
  • Pain while swallowing
  • Impaired speech/voice
  • Hoarseness of voice
  • Swelling around the neck
  • Swollen tonsils

Other symptoms:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Body aches
  • Headaches
  • Weakness

Prevention is always better than cure. To prevent yourself from getting a sore throat, keep yourself warm during cold weather by using a scarf. Wash your hands frequently with soap to prevent harmful viruses and bacteria from entering your body. Avoid eating or drinking from the same plate, glass or utensils with others. Avoid using public facilities like fountains, telephone booths and ATMs. Most importantly, be careful while meeting someone who is sick.

Back Pain

Back pain is the leading cause of disability worldwide. It is the number one reason in the world that causes people to miss work and go to the doctor.

Pain in the back can be in any particular area or over a wide region. Different reasons can cause pain in different areas of the back such as near the shoulders, the mid-back or lower back.

Lower Back Pain

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The common symptoms of back pain include mild aches, shooting, burning or stabbing sensation. The pain may also radiate to the upper limbs or down to the hips and the legs. The pain is usually aggravated by movements like stretching, bending, twisting or even simple actions like walking or standing.

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Back pain is a very common symptom so it’s exact cause can be difficult to ascertain. The most common causes include muscle strain due to overworking or injury, bulging of intervertebral discs of the spinal cord, arthritis, osteoporosis, etc.

Probable causes of sore throat and lower back pain

Sore throat and lower back pain are caused by a huge number of diseases. As they are common symptoms, they can be caused due to single sickness or the interaction of a number of unique factors caused by different ailments.

The most common causes for sore throat and lower back pain include:

  • Cold and flu
  • Tonsillitis
  • Influenza
  • Pneumonia
  • Rheumatic fever
  • Mononucleosis
  • Gonorrhoea
  • Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)

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Apart from these there are a number of more possible interactions that may cause sore throat with back pain. This article will help you find out if the symptoms you’re facing are similar to any of the diseases on this list. If you see that your symptoms are different or are unsure, visit your doctor or nearest healthcare professional. Always remember that there is no alternative to a certified physician and proper medication for treatment of a disease.

Cold and Flu

The common cold is one of the most basic causes of sore throat. Cold and the flu are very similar and hard to tell apart. But they manifest in different ways. Though they are both caused by viral infections, the flu is more dangerous as it can gradually develop into lung infection and pneumonia.

Symptoms

  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Stuffy nose
  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Ear ache
  • Muscle cramps
  • Pain in back, arms, legs
  • Weakness

It should be noted that the symptoms of cold and flu are the same, but in case of the flu the symptoms are more severe. Muscle cramps in the back during cold and flu can cause back pain.

Tonsillitis

The tonsils are two oval shaped glands situated at the either side near the beginning of the throat. The main function of these glands are to produce lymphocytes that act as the first line of defence against any harmful organism that may enter through the mouth. Tonsillitis is the inflammation of the tonsils due to infection which is commonly caused by viruses.

Symptoms

  • Swollen tonsils
  • Sore throat
  • Difficulty in swallowing
  • Fever
  • Swelling of glands in the neck
  • Muffled voice
  • Bad breath
  • Stomachache
  • Muscle pain
  • Headache

Tonsillitis is a kind of infection, so the body responds by raising the body temperature which we perceive as fever. This in turn also might cause body aches, such as stiff neck, pain in moving limbs and back pain.

Pneumonia

Pneumonia is the infection of the lungs. It can be caused by bacteria, viruses or fungi. Pneumonia is treated carefully as it is contagious and can spread from person to person. It spreads through the droplets of an infected person’s sneeze or cough.

Symptoms

  • Wet cough
  • Fever with chills
  • Shortness of breath
  • Sore throat
  • Chest pain
  • Tiredness and fatigue
  • Reduced appetite
  • Nausea
  • Headaches

One of the complications of pneumonia is the infection of the pleura. The pleura is an elastic layer of tissue that encapsulates the lungs. It helps in the smooth movement of the lungs and prevents friction. In case of severe pneumonia, this layer can get infected as well causing Pleural effusions, Empyema and Pleurisy. In this case, pain can radiate to the shoulders and the back.

Rheumatic fever

Rheumatic fever is an inflammatory disease. It can develop from streptococcus infection that leads to scarlet fever. It normally affects young children between 5 to 15 years of age. It is mostly seen in developing countries. Rheumatic fever is especially dangerous because it can cause damage to heart, heart valves and may also cause heart failure.

Symptoms

  • Fever
  • Sore throat
  • Painful joints – knees, ankles, elbows
  • Pain that radiates from one joint to another
  • Hot and swollen joints
  • Chest pain
  • Heart murmurs
  • Weakness
  • Rash
  • Uncontrolled movements of limbs (Sydenham’s chorea)

One of the defining features of Rheumatic fever is joint pain. This pain can occur between the intervertebral joints of the spine. This causes severe back pain resulting in inability to walk or even stand up.

Mononucleosis

Mononucleosis is a contagious disease caused by the Epstein-Barr virus. This disease can be transmitted by sharing drinks, silverware or by kissing, hence its name ‘the kissing disease’. EBV is a member of the herpes virus family and most people are exposed to it at some point in their lives.

Symptoms

  • Fever
  • Fatigue
  • Sore throat
  • Swelling of lymph nodes
  • Muscle soreness

In mononucleosis, muscle soreness can be seen throughout the body. It may also affect the back and lower back region and cause pain.

Gonorrhoea

Gonorrhoea is a sexually transmitted disease caused by the organism Neisseria gonorrhoeae. It infects both males and females and commonly affects the urethra, rectum or throat. It is transmitted during intercourse.

Symptoms:

  • Pain during urination
  • Pus or similar looking discharge from penis
  • Swelling of testicle
  • Sore throat
  • Swelling of lymph nodes of the neck
  • Vaginal discharge
  • Vaginal bleeding between periods (e.g after inercourse)
  • Abdominal pain

Gonorrhoea can cause acute abdominal pain. This pain can radiate to the back and spread to the lower back.

Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD):

GERD is caused by the repeated back-flow of stomach acid to the esophagus. This reflux gradually damages the esophageal lining and causes irritation. GERD can happen to anyone from time to time. However if left untreated over a long period of time, it can develop into severe life-threatening complications

Symptoms

  • Chest pain
  • Heartburn
  • Sore throat
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Feeling of lump in the throat
  • Chronic cough
  • Laryngitis

GERD causes heartburn which is a burning sensation in the chest. In severe cases, this pain can spread to the middle of the back. This pain can gradually spread to the lower back as well.

Sore Throat and Lower Back Pain Remedies

The first course of action is to consult a doctor and take the proper medication. But there are also some steps you can take to mitigate the symptoms. Sore throat and back pain can make life hell and can keep you from doing the most basic everyday tasks. So by following some easy and effective home remedy solutions, you can keep the sickness at bay and also smoothen your road to recovery.

Sore Throat Remedies

  1. Take plenty of rest. The less you use your voice, the speedier the recovery.
  2. Make sure to drink plenty of fluids. Make sure your throat is not dehydrated as it will worsen your sore throat.
  3. Warm liquids help relieve pain and reduce swelling. They are excellent for soothing sore throats.
  4. Take a quarter to half teaspoon of salt in a glass of lukewarm water and gargle. Do this at least twice daily as it soothes the throat and helps reduce inflammation.
  5. Use an air humidifier as dry air can irritate sore throats. Humidifiers keep the air moist and comfortable and speeds the recovery of sore throats.
  6. Avoid irritants like cigarettes. Smoking is especially detrimental as it dehydrates and irritates the throat. So avoid smoking.

Lower Back Pain Remedies

  1. Avoid resting for long periods of time. More than three days of bed rest can further aggravate back pain.
  2. Exercise often. Keep the muscles active. Simple exercises like walking can help treat back pain.
  3. Maintain proper posture. Make sure you don’t droop while sitting on the chair and keep your chest forward and shoulders straight while standing and walking. Poor posture causes abnormal tensions in the muscles causing back pain.
  4. Heat compression is an excellent way to relieve muscle stress. Cold packs are also beneficial. Heat compressions are more suited to treat chronic back pain. Cold packs are better for acute pain caused by accidents or injury.
  5. Take care of your sleeping position. Try to sleep in a position keeping the spine straight.
  6. Try exercises that improve flexibility like yoga. Flexibility training improves muscle elasticity and endurance, It helps muscles recover from strains and cramps more easily.

Conclusion

Sore throat and lower back pain may be one of the common health complaints, but they are nonetheless two of the most intolerable. In this article, we have given you insight to check for yourself whether your sore throat needs only some rest and hot soup or a trip to the doctor’s office. If you see that your symptoms are getting worse, don’t try to manage them by yourself. Contact your physician and seek out proper medical attention and treatment. Here’s hoping that you find yourself free from the suffering of sore throat and back pain and living a happier healthier life.

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I'm a medical student from Bangladesh. As a doctor in the making, I'm fascinated by the regular advancements of medical science. This fuels my passion for trying to follow a health-conscious lifestyle. I love writing and sharing thoughts and ideas. I hope that my work can reach out and help people to enjoy a healthy, happy life. Muhtasim Munir MBBS (3rd year) Armed Forces Medical College