Why does my back hurt when I get sick? Relationship between immunity and pain

Have you ever wondered why your back hurts when you’re down with the flu or a cold?

This discomfort is common in many diseases and is not just an accidental symptom. This is the result of a complex interaction between the immune system and the brain called the ‘neuroimmune synapse’.

An interesting and as-yet-understood consequence of this conversation between the immune system and the brain system during illness is that it is particularly pronounced in the lower back. It is believed to be one of the most sensitive areas of the body to neuroimmune threats.

Read more: Reducing the amount of pain – how to retrain your brain when it becomes hypersensitive

Fundamentals of Immunology

Our immune system is a double-edged sword. Yes, it fights off infections for us, but it also makes us keenly aware of the work it does.

When our body detects an infection, the immune system releases molecules containing signaling proteins called cytokines. These proteins coordinate the immune system to fight infections and speak to the brain and spinal cord to alter behavior and physiology.

This can lead to symptoms such as fatigue, loss of appetite, fever, and hypersensitivity to pain. Classically, we think of this as a beneficial behavioral change that helps conserve energy to fight infections. This is why we often feel the need to rest and disconnect from our usual activities when we are sick. It’s also why you’re more moody than usual.

invisible small changes

Part of this self-protective response is a change in how we perceive threats, including sensory stimuli.

When you get sick, you may feel pain when you touch it, or your muscles may ache. Many changes in behavior and sensory systems are believed to occur at the nanoscale. Molecular changes in parts of the brain associated with cognition and mood change the way we think and feel. When these neuroimmune synaptic changes occur in the sensory processing areas of the brain and spinal cord, we feel more pain.

These sensory changes, known as allodynia or hyperalgesia, can increase pain sensitivity even in areas not directly affected by infection, such as the lower back.

Man taking his temperature in bed and holding his head
When sick, they become more sensitive to pain and can become moody.
shutter stock

immune memory

This immune response is triggered by a variety of bacterial infections and viruses such as the novel coronavirus and influenza. In fact, the occasional feeling of nausea after vaccination is a good thing your immune system is doing to contribute to protective immune memory.

Some of the conversations between immune cells can also alert the brain that we are sick or make us think we are sick.

After some viral infections, the discomfort lasts longer than the virus. Some people have a long-term reaction to the new coronavirus, called long-term coronavirus.

Women generally have a stronger immune response than men, so they are more likely to experience pain symptoms. A stronger immune response in women (although beneficial for fighting infections) also puts them at higher risk of inflammatory diseases, including autoimmune diseases.

Read more: You won’t get the flu from a flu shot – here’s how it works

when to worry and what to do

Seek medical attention if pain is severe, persistent, or accompanied by other symptoms of concern. Mild to moderate pain is a common symptom of the disease and often presents in the lower back. The good news is that as the infection subsides and the disease subsides, so do the symptoms.

While treating the underlying infection is important, there are also ways to reduce disease-induced neuroimmune pain.

bowl of chicken and vegetable soup
Grandma was right. Please eat the soup.
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Eating well and going outside helps maintain a diverse microbiome (the collection of microorganisms that live in and on your body). Getting quality sleep, staying hydrated, and minimizing inflammation can also help.

Surprisingly, there is research suggesting that Grandma’s traditional chicken soup recipe reduces immune signals at neuroimmune synapses.

Scientists have also found that mindfulness meditation, cold water therapy, and controlled breathing cause profound cellular and molecular changes that help activate bodily systems such as the autonomic nervous system and alter immune responses. is showing. These practices not only help manage pain, but they also add an anti-inflammatory component to the immune response, potentially reducing the severity and duration of illness.

Hyperthermia treatment (packs, hot water bottles, etc.) may improve blood circulation and alleviate symptoms. Over-the-counter pain relievers may also help, but seek advice if you are taking other medications.

Read more: Men’s flu is real, but women are more prone to autoimmune diseases and allergies

Is it all in your heart?

Is this more of a concern than a problem? A few “yes” and a lot of “nos”.

A slight yes comes from research that supports the idea that breathing, meditation, and water bath therapy, hopefully, can make a difference at the cellular and molecular level.

However, by understanding the mechanisms of low back pain during illness and using some simple strategies, it may be possible to effectively manage this pain. Always remember to see your doctor if your symptoms are severe or last longer than expected. Your health and comfort are of utmost importance.

#hurt #sick #Relationship #immunity #pain

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