Stop Sudden Lower Back Pain by Treating Your Adrenal Fatigue

By: Michael Lam, MD, MPH; Justin Lam, ABAAHP, FMNM

Sudden lower back pain can ruin your dayBack pain is a very common complaint. The Mayo Clinic has estimated that nearly 80% of the population will suffer from sudden lower back pain at some point in their lives. That being said, those who suffer from Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome (AFS) experience pain in the lower back that is seldom understood.

Causes of Sudden Lower Back Pain

Oftentimes, sudden lower back pain is a relatively easy problem to manage. Your doctor can usually isolate the root cause of your back pain and provide treatment. Typically, sudden lower back pain is caused by some form of trauma, whether that be a fall, pulling a muscle while lifting, traumatic blow to the lower back, or even women who have had an epidural during childbirth. These typical causes are easy to identify and treat, but not so in cases of adrenal fatigue.
Your doctor will probably test for the most common causes of lower back pain, such as the functioning of your kidneys, a clear urinary tract, and the absence of bladder or cystic issues. If these tests come back negative, you should likely consider learning about the symptoms and causes of AFS, a common cause of lower back pain of otherwise unknown origin.

The NeuroEndoMetabolic Stress Response and Adrenal Fatigue

Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome (AFS) can prevent the body’s natural stress response from working properly. This stress response, known as the NeuroEndoMetabolic (NEM) Stress Response, is how your body as a whole deals with stress. The adrenals are part of the hormonal pathway our brain receives stress signals through our senses and interprets and converts them into hormones. These hormones are delivered to the targeted organ to repair the damage and alleviate the stress signals by the brain. These hormones also keep the brain on high alert and cause the heart to pump more blood in times of threat.

The adrenal glands secrete over 50 hormones that help our body deal with stress. The most important anti-stress hormone of all is cortisol. A proper adrenal function is therefore essential for life and our wellbeing.

When the adrenal glands become fatigued, they are unable to keep up with normal outputs of cortisol, and other stress hormones, rendering the body incapable of dealing with stress. This unattended stress is allowed to wreak havoc on your body. This stress can cause inflammation in the muscles and joints.

Inflammation and low back pain

Inflamation can cause sudden lower back painThe primary purpose of inflammation is to eliminate the initial cause of injury, clear out dying cells and tissues that have been damaged from the original trauma, and to initiate deep tissue repair. Inflammation is also tied to our detoxification processes as well. Your liver is responsible for breaking down many inflammatory molecules in your body. In addition, inflammation affects your brain’s response to stress, which may cause depression and other conditions that magnify the effects of AFS.

Those who suffer from AFS, and thus a compromised NEM, experience a prolonged stage of inflammation due to the body not being able to properly detoxify itself. With this lengthy state of inflammation, you may experience constant sudden lower back pain. The pain is generally dull in nature, does not radiate, and has no visible swelling or redness. Often described as more of an ache, the areas involved are usually located above the kidneys. One has to make sure the kidneys and the urinary tract system are checked out, because such dull pain can be similar to that experienced by kidney, urinary tract, or bladder infections.

Liver congestion can also produce low back pain. A sluggish liver can often be an issue in the setting of AFS as well. Often times, as energy levels decrease in the body, the liver will not be able to function optimally. As a result, toxins and metabolites can start to build up. When toxins reach a certain threshold, they deposit into muscles and joints, leading to aches and pains of no known origin.

Lower Back Pain and Adrenal Fatigue

If you suffer from adrenal fatigue and are experiencing sudden lower back pain, you are likely going to describe to your doctor that you have a dull, nagging ache, particularly in the kidney area mentioned above. Not coincidentally, this is also close to the location of the adrenal glands.

The adrenal glands, a set of endocrine glands roughly the size of two walnuts, are located directly above the kidneys. There is no physical nerve that directly carries pain signals to the brain from the adrenal glands, which can make things very confusing when you try to find out where your pain is coming from.

Due to the lack of a physical connection to the nerve centers and no other obvious root cause, lower back pain is often dismissed. In addition, the majority of doctors do not consider the issues associated with AFS. Regardless, your doctor will likely offer no other root cause or solution to your lower back pain. Even those who are well versed in the conditions and adrenal fatigue treatment don’t quite have a good, physical explanation of this pain. Although there is no purely scientific evidence or understanding the anatomical source of this pain, we do indeed know that this exists and affects many people afflicted with adrenal fatigue.

Sudden lower back pain can be reduced by having regular messages.Fortunately, it has been found that this type of pain usually resolves spontaneously as the adrenals heal. On top of that, having a plan to reduce inflammation and detoxify the body is important, as well adjunct therapy. An anti-inflammatory diet, that includes supplements to help strengthen your liver and reduce inflammation, is typically recommended. This, however, is not always the case. It is very important that your doctor is very sure that you do not suffer some other physical condition that is affecting your back pain. If you are in advance stages of AFS, improper supplementation can worsen the condition and trigger adrenal crashes. Always consult an AFS literate practitioner prior to beginning such program.


There can be many causes of sudden lower back pain, most of which are easily treated and diagnosed. If you do suffer from sudden lower back pain without an obvious root cause, be sure to see your doctor and ask him to make sure that everything is fine structurally, and there is nothing else that could really be interpreted as a cause for pain in this region. Pain in the lower back and flank region could be a sign that you may be experiencing adrenal fatigue.

© Copyright 2016 Michael Lam, M.D. All Rights Reserved.

Adrenal fatigue can bring on sudden lower back pain
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