Back Pain and Fever: Should I Be Worried?

by Dr. Brent Wells

Nothing quite compares with waking up one morning and discovering that, not only is your lower back killing you, you’ve got body aches. You feel the chills and you know that you are coming down with the flu or a fever.

After checking your temperature, you find that you do indeed have a fever but no other symptoms, other than that annoying back pain. Then you start to wonder; are these two items related? Could this be a sign of something serious?

There are many sources of pain in the back, even an inflamed set of muscles from playing too hard with the kids can set you up for back pain. The fever, however, unless you are certain that you have the flu, is another issue that may or may not be related.

Back pain without a fever is often one of the signs you have a misaligned spine.

Could the Fever be a Sign of Something Else?

Yes, it could. A fever is your body’s way of trying to raise your core temperature in an attempt to kill off a virus or a bacterial infection. Possible causes of back pain with fever include:

  • Spinal Epidural Abscess – This is an infection of the lumbar region of the spine, causing fevers and low back pain
  • Vertebral Osteomyelitis – This is also an infection of the lumbar spine and causes pain in the arms or lower back and legs, along with a fever
  • Meningitis – Sometimes called the kissing bug, this causes swelling and inflammation of the brain and spine. This is a serious problem that must be addressed immediately!
  • Spinal Cord Abscess -This infection of the internal part of the spine is rare, but it can happen. This also causes low back pain and fever
  • Kidney Infection – This also manifests as low back pain and a fever

What Else Could It Be? Can Back Pain Cause a Fever?

If you’ve had poor posture for some time or if you’ve had recurring low back pain but always believed that it would take care of itself, this could be nothing more than out-of-control stress combined with poor posture.

Stress dampens the immune response. When you’ve worked overtime or had an especially bad week, it wouldn’t be unusual to feel both low back pain and a feverish state. This would be because low back pain, when unaddressed for long periods of time, can cause your body to react by hiking up the body’s temperature to “kill off” whatever is causing you stress. So, in some ways, the answer is yes, your back pain is causing your low-grade fever. Your immune system simply doesn’t know any other way to respond.

Let’s not forget that depression and low back pain seem to go hand in hand(1), although experts are at a loss as to why or which single problem is causing the other to act up. Are you depressed because you have low back pain or is depression the natural outcome of low back pain?

Your mattress might also be an issue. While it won’t cause a fever, an old mattress can cause severe back pain. Is a firm mattress best for your back? That might depend on the reason behind your back pain.

This is where seeing your chiropractor comes into play.

Common Signs of Back Pain that Require a Visit to the Chiropractor

Hopefully, you are already seeing your chiropractor on a regular basis (learn more about what a chiropractor does for lower back pain). But even if you don’t, there are a few signs that you shouldn’t ignore and play the “wait and see if it goes away” game, such as:

  • If you were recently involved in a car accident or if you have fallen
  • If you feel a tingling in your legs
  • If you are having balance issues
  • If you are also having abdominal pain
  • If the pain just is not going away or it went away for a while, but it has returned
  • If you have weakness in the arms or legs
  • If you are having bowel or urinary problems that you didn’t have previously
  • If the pain is worse when you sit or when you stand after sitting
  • If you have a fever along with the back pain
  • If you have upper back pain after drinking alcohol

What Will the Chiropractor Do?

Of course, the chiropractor will take your complete medical history (if they don’t have it already) and take X-rays or order an MRI if it is necessary. They will do a complete examination to determine what is causing both the back pain and the fever. The chiropractor might have additional questions to determine the source of your fever.

The fever might be the onset of the flu. While most people develop other symptoms first, it can happen that you have a low-grade fever for two or three days before you experience a runny nose or congestion and cough.

If your back pain is related to your monthly cycle, comprehensive chiropractic care can oftentimes provide instant relief from period back pain.


Your Chiropractor Can Relieve Pain 

You might be wondering if a chiropractor helps to treat lower back pain. The answer is yes! Lower back pain is the #1 reason people take time off from work. A fever is one of the most often ignored symptoms, with most people waiting it out or sweating it out. Combined, these two problems are your body’s way of telling you that something is wrong. Your chiropractor can help to diagnose your problem. Of course, if you need to see a different medical professional, your chiropractor can give you the referral of a trusted professional in your area.

After your diagnosis, your chiropractor will most likely do adjustments to relieve both the pain and open the nerve pathways so that the body will have increased communication with the problem area. This will also relieve one area of stress so you will feel more relaxed.

If the chiropractor deems it beneficial, you may also receive a chiropractic massage. Chiropractic massage has a wide range of benefits, including reducing stress, relieving low back pain, and reducing depression. This should also reduce your fever unless it is due to another issue.

To learn more about your condition, visit your local chiropractor at Better Health Anchorage in Alaska.


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