Back pain has many causes, ranging from a simple matter of poor posture to problems such as degenerative disc disease. This may make the question, “How do antacids cause back pain?” seem unlearned, at best, but it is true that antacids can cause back pain in some people.
Types of Antacids
The active ingredients of antacids are alkaline substances that neutralize acid. These ingredients vary from one brand to another.
Over-the Counter (OTC) Antacids
OTC antacids cause back pain through one or more of the following:
1. Sodium: Sodium can cause a build up of fluid in body tissues. This build up can cause pressure on nerves in the back, especially the lower back. By compressing nerves through this pressure, antacids cause back pain. Alka-Seltzer, Bromo Seltzer, Gaviscon, and baking soda contain sodium, and should not be taken if you have high blood pressure.
2. Calcium: Calcium-based antacids can, according to the USFDA, cause kidney stones, one symptom of which is severe back pain. Heavy and extended use of antacids containing calcium may clog kidneys, reduce the amount of blood they can process, and cause kidney stones. Via the kidneys, calcium-containing antacids cause back pain. Tums, Mylanta, and Maalox are examples of antacids containing calcium.
3. Magnesium: Magnesium is usually used in combination with calcium or aluminum. The USFDA says magnesium taken for a prolonged period may cause kidney stones, especially if kidneys are functioning improperly to begin with. Again, it is possible that antacids cause back pain via the kidneys. Maalox, Mylanta, Camalox, and Riopan are examples of magnesium-containing antacids.
4. Aluminum: According to the USFDA, antacids with aluminum can weaken the bones. Extended or heavy use may make these antacids cause back pain through their effect on vertebrae. Back pain is especially likely if you have kidney disease. Rolaids and Amphogel are two examples of this group of antacids.
Prescription antacids, such as Prilosec, often have side-effects of their own. Some of these antacids cause back pain more quickly than OTC drugs. In addition, OTC antacids cause back pain when taken in combination with prescription medications for other medical concerns. Check with your doctor.
Back Pain from Antacids Is Not Usual
Antacids cause back pain for only a minority. It is unusual for healthy individuals to experience this when taking antacids as directed.
- Antacids cause back pain more frequently when taken in large doses.
- Antacids cause back pain more frequently when taken for long periods.
You should not take any antacid for more than two weeks unless instructed otherwise by a doctor. Antacids should be used only occasionally, for temporary relief from heartburn.