Can Acid Reflux and Heartburn Cause Back Pain?

Acid reflux and heartburn are common digestive issues that many of us have experienced at some point in our lives. 

They’re often felt as an uncomfortable burning sensation in the middle of the chest and throat1 and range from an occasional nuisance to something which can affect day to day life.2

But can they cause back pain? In this blog, we will explore whether there’s a link between acid reflux, heartburn and back pain and how these seemingly unrelated issues might be connected.

Understanding acid reflux and heartburn


Let’s briefly recap on acid reflux and heartburn first. Acid reflux occurs when stomach contents leak into the oesophagus, sometimes rising up into the throat.2 This happens when the muscular ring that separates the stomach and the oesophagus fails to close properly.2


The burning sensation from the gastric acid within the stomach contents can cause the irritation and burning sensation commonly known as heartburn.2 Acid reflux can give an unpleasant sour taste in the mouth and also cause bad breath, a cough, recurring hiccups and leave you feeling bloated or sick.1


Often with an occasional bout of heartburn there’s no obvious reason why it happens.1 It can be caused or made worse by a range of lifestyle factors such as smoking, being overweight, certain foods and drinks, stress and anxiety, pregnancy – even an increase in hormones such as progesterone and oestrogen.1 If it keeps happening it could be a condition called gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (GORD).1



woman with back pain


Can acid reflux and heartburn cause back pain?


If you’ve ever felt a pain in your back while experiencing acid reflux and heartburn you may assume they’re related.

While back pain isn’t usually a symptom of acid reflux and heartburn1 if the burning sensation is felt deeply within the chest, it can sometimes feel like there is also pain within the back.2/3

There may also be a crossover of the same biological and social risk factors such as being overweight and smoking,4 both of which are linked to back pain.5

Poor quality or disturbed sleep is also linked to back pain5 so if acid reflux and heartburn are keeping you awake at night this could be another associated factor.

Managing acid reflux, heartburn and back pain


While acid reflux and heartburn are unlikely to be the cause of back pain, adopting lifestyle changes can help to reduce the chances of these digestive issues occurring as well as improve your overall physical health, wellbeing and fitness.5

These include lowering your intake or avoiding heartburn triggers such as rich, spicy and fatty food, alcohol and caffeine as well as quitting smoking, losing weight and maintaining a healthy weight.1/5

If heartburn keeps you awake at night, try to avoid eating three to four hours before going to bed and raise your head and shoulders up when lying in bed to prevent stomach acid from travelling up while you’re sleeping.1

Back pain is very common and can be the result of many different causes.5

Alongside muscular problems, common factors include poor fitness and low physical activity levels, a lack of muscle strength and flexibility and posture – particularly if you’re in the same position for a long time.5

Activities such as swimming, Pilates and yoga can help to ease back pain while also strengthening muscles and improving flexibility.6

pharmacist reaching for medication

When to seek help


Lifestyle changes really can make a difference.

Keeping a diary to better understand potential food and drink triggers and being more physically active is a great place to start but if you feel you need further help and advice to control your symptoms speak to your pharmacist.

They may recommend an over the counter treatment such as an antacid or alginate to ease your symptoms.1

Over the counter PPIs (proton pump inhibitors) such as omeprazole 20mg – the main ingredient in Pyrocalm Control – work by reducing the amount of acid the stomach makes7 and are a widely used treatment for indigestion, heartburn and acid reflux.8

If pharmacy medicines aren’t helping and you have heartburn most days speak to your GP.

Learn more about Pyrocalm Control


Pyrocalm Control 20mg Gastro-Resistant Tablets (omeprazole) are used in adults for the short-term treatment of reflux symptoms (e.g. heartburn, acid regurgitation, acid reflux). 

Find out more about Pyrocalm Control

Pyrocalm Control: Over the counter omeprazole

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Pyrocalm Control® 20mg Gastro-Resistant Tablets. For the short-term treatment of reflux symptoms in adults.
Contains 20 mg Omeprazole. Always read the label. Medicines can affect the unborn baby.
Always talk to your doctor or pharmacist before taking any medicine in pregnancy.