Red Flags for Swollen Stomach and Back Pain

Bloating causes a distended stomach when the abdomen fills up with gas or air. This discomforting sensation can also cause pain that may be felt in the back.  Together, a swollen stomach and back pain can make you feel not only distressed but perhaps a bit self-conscious as well.

The two symptoms are tied together because the back provides support and stabilizes the body. However, abdominal bloating causes pressure and pain in the area which can spread to the back. The pain may vary in severity and type from sensations of dull throbbing to sharp and pinching pain.

When the two symptoms are experienced separately they are fairly common and not usually a cause for concern. But in instances where a bloating stomach pain is also accompanied by back pain, they could be indicative of a more serious condition. These should not be taken lightly as they can include the following:


While most people with gallstones are asymptomatic, others do experience symptoms like abdominal bloating and pain in the stomach. In this case, the two usually occur together as the gallstone moves from the gallbladder into one of the ducts leading out.

Other accompanying symptoms can include fever, nausea or sweating.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome

This is a common disorder affecting the colon or lower bowel. Also known as IBS, this condition presents various uncomfortable symptoms such as abdominal bloating, cramping, diarrhea and/or constipation. In more severe cases, the person may also experience some lower back pain.

IBS is not a life-threatening condition, but when symptoms persist or are accompanied by others like unexplained weight loss and anemia, it is best to consult with a medical practitioner.

Ovarian Cancer

On a more serious note, back pain and abdominal bloating occurring together may be a warning sign of ovarian cancer. If the cause for bloating cannot be traced to typical factors, or if bloating seems to be happening without any apparent reason, it becomes important to take note.

In fact, simultaneous bloating and back pain is one of the more common symptoms reported by women diagnosed with ovarian cancer. In most cases, the two symptoms start to happen suddenly and may also be accompanied by extreme fatigue and sluggishness.

Peptic Ulcers

The simultaneous occurrence of stomach bloating and back pain may also indicate the presence of peptic ulcers. This is a sore or tear in the stomach lining or the upper part of the small intestine.

Typically caused by the presence of H.pylori, peptic ulcers may be aggravated by the continued use of painkillers like ibuprofen or naproxen.


Inflammation of the pancreas can lead to the formation of cysts on the pancreas. Unchecked progression of this inflammation may also cause an infection to develop in the region leading to tissue damage and bleeding.

With so much internal activity going on in the abdominal cavity, its effects may be observed as a bloated stomach externally. When this symptom is paired with back pain, a possible warning sign could be the development of pancreatitis.

All content has been reviewed and approved by orthopedic specialist Dr. Zvezdomir “Zed” Zamfirov. Dr. Zed’s practice — All Star Pain Management and Regenerative Medicine — proudly serves the Annapolis, Greater Baltimore and Washington D.C. areas. For more, contact Dr. Zed or call 443-808-1808.