Stomach Ache Shooting To The Back? May Be A Sign Of Inflamed Pancreas, Expert Explains

Pain in the upper left side or centre of the abdomen is a predominant sign of pancreatitis.

Written by: Sushmita Sharma Updated at: 2023-03-26 20:30

Is your abdomen hurting so much that it even radiates to your back? Are you frequently nauseous and have to vomit after taking every meal? These symptoms should not be ignored as they may indicate health issues in your pancreas.

We spoke to Dr Naman Patel, MD, Physician, who explained the signs of an inflamed pancreas, its symptoms, and preventive measures.

Signs Of Inflamed Pancreas

Pancreatitis is a medical condition in which your pancreas gets inflamed and develops redness and swelling. Pain in the upper left side or centre of the abdomen is a predominant symptom.

The pancreas releases digestive enzymes that help digest food and control your blood sugar levels. When digestive enzymes start to function before your pancreas releases them, your pancreas may become damaged. It may result in inflammation, which can be of two types: acute pancreatitis and chronic pancreatitis.

Acute Pancreatitis

People suffering from acute pancreatitis get a sudden onset of inflammation in their pancreas, which lasts for a short time. If its symptoms are treated properly, they usually resolve within a day or two. Several reasons can give rise to it. Some are autoimmune diseases, excessive alcohol consumption, gallstones, surgery, and infections. 

Also Read: Pancreatic Cancer: Symptoms, Diagnosis & Treatment

Symptoms Of Acute Pancreatitis

  • Pain in the upper abdomen
  • Fever
  • Nausea, vomiting after every meal
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Backache as a result of pain in the abdomen 

Chronic Pancreatitis

In chronic pancreatitis, the pancreas is permanently damaged by long-term inflammation. It usually occurs after a bout of acute pancreatitis or an underlying health condition. It can develop due to various health issues like cystic fibrosis, high triglycerides, gallstones, long-term alcohol consumption, and some medications. 

Symptoms Of Chronic Pancreatitis

  • Pain in the upper abdomen
  • Stomach ache after eating
  • Unexpected weight loss and loss of appetite
  • Foul smell from stools
  • Oily stools (steatorrhea)
Also Read: These Can Be The Reasons For Persistent Pain On The Left Side Of The Abdomen

Tips To Prevent Damage To The Pancreas

  • You should avoid consuming alcohol, especially in high amounts, to reduce the risk of an inflamed pancreas.
  • Maintain a healthy diet rich in fibre and low in fat to avoid putting pressure on the pancreas.
  • It is established that smoking is injurious to health, so quit it right away to prevent damaging the pancreas. It can even raise the chances of pancreatic cancer. 
  • Don’t overeat, and avoid junk foods to avoid gaining weight. It is essential to manage weight for the pancreas to work efficiently. A healthy weight also reduces chances of gallstones, diabetes, and obesity, which are known to cause pancreatitis. 

When To Visit A Doctor

If you often suffer from acute or severe abdominal pain, you should immediately visit a healthcare expert. The doctor will likely palpate your abdomen to determine whether it is sore and examine your blood pressure, fever, and pulse rate to check if you have acute pancreatitis. On the other hand, ultrasound scans and imaging tests such as CT and MRI can be used to diagnose chronic pancreatitis.


A timely diagnosis is important to avoid health complications due to pancreatitis. It can lead to diabetes, kidney failure, pancreatic cancer, and malnutrition. In addition, you should address medical conditions that cause elevated triglyceride levels (Lipid profile) in the blood. Those with chronic pancreatitis who experience pain that does not go away with medicine may require surgery.


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