Fever and back pain

The definition

In medicine, fever and back pain are two independent symptoms. Therefore, there are two separate definitions for fever and back pain. Of course, these symptoms can occur at the same time or even together with other complaints and should then be interpreted accordingly.

By definition, a person has a fever when the body temperature rises above 38 ° Celsius. The causal process of the fever is an adjustment of the setpoint of the core body temperature: Whenever the brain wants to increase the temperature, this information is passed on from the brain stem to the nervous system of the entire body. Back pain is pain in the back, lumbar or neck area. The back shoulder area can also be affected.

The reasons

Both fever and back pain are very unspecific symptoms. This means that they can be triggered by an extremely wide range of different diseases and causes.

Feverish temperatures and back pain that occur at the same time are often triggered by the flu or a flu-like infection. The body reacts to such a viral infection by increasing its body temperature, as this supports certain immune cells in their function. With back pain and limb pain, the body tries to keep the person affected from moving too much - inflammatory messengers that convey excessive pain stimuli play a major role here.
But other infectious diseases can also cause fever and back pain, such as meningitis, i.e. inflammation of the meninges. Since this shell can also be found around the spinal cord, the pain is felt not only in the head, but also along the spine.

In rare cases, a malignant neoplasm or cell proliferation, as a tumor, can be the cause of back pain and fever. Therefore, any long-lasting fever should be examined anyway, and it is particularly recommended if you have back pain.

Find out more about the topic here: Causes of fever.

The accompanying symptoms

The headache

The causes of headaches are extremely diverse. Headache as an accompanying symptom of fever and back pain can be an expression of a bacterial or viral infection, for example the flu. On the one hand, this can lead to an increased sensation of pain; on the other hand, the fever and increased sweating can lead to dehydration (= drying out), which also promotes headaches.

Caution is advised if the headache becomes extremely severe, causing sensory deficits such as visual disturbances or a stiff neck: Then the headache and backache with the fever can indicate a meningitis, which should be treated in a hospital as soon as possible.

Read more about the topic here: Fever and headache.

The night sweats

During attacks of fever, there is naturally increased sweating. Every time the fever is over and the setpoint is lowered again, the body tries to cool itself with liquid on the skin. In medicine, however, night sweats are understood to mean sweating so profusely that clothes or sheets have to be changed every morning or even in the middle of the night because they are soaked through.

Night sweats in this sense are a sign that the body's metabolism is greatly increased - this can be the case with tumors as well as infectious diseases. In any case, excessive night sweating of this kind in connection with fever and back pain should be examined by a doctor very promptly.

More information on the topic Night sweats you'll find here.

The sickness

Nausea can be caused by many things, but most of the time it is an indication of a gastrointestinal tract infection. The symptom of fever also fits in with this: with this increase in temperature, the body tries to make it easier for the immune cells to fight off infection. Back pain can also occur with a gastrointestinal infection.
It can also rarely be the case that the nausea is only caused by the (severe) back pain - but more often there is a common origin of these symptoms in the sense of a gastrointestinal infection.

The joint pain

If painful joints are added to the fever and back pain, this indicates a flu or a flu-like infection - similar to muscular pain or aching limbs. As described above, from an evolutionary point of view, this is a tool of the body to keep the person concerned from physical exertion.

But pain in the limbs and joints are also causally linked: In order to get a fever, the body releases inflammatory messenger substances that also make people more sensitive to pain. The pain threshold is reduced to such an extent that parts of the body can also hurt "for no reason" - such as joints or muscles.

Find out more about the topic here: Joint pain.

When do I have to see a doctor?

Since fever and back pain in this combination can also indicate more serious infections, medical advice should be sought immediately in some situations. Such situations include the fever lasting more than a day in children or more than three days in adults.

Even if the back pain goes into the head or if the senses or consciousness are clouded, you should not hesitate to call the emergency medical service. Even if the back pain causes a restriction of movement, e.g. the chin can no longer be placed on the chest or walking in pain is no longer possible, the disease should not be treated further without medical help.

Read more on the topic: When should I see a doctor with a fever?

The therapy

Treatment for fever and back pain can be symptomatic to relieve symptoms. For example, antipyretic drugs such as paracetamol or home remedies can be used. Physical measures such as heat pillows or a hot full bath can help against back pain.

Symptomatic therapy is particularly advisable for flu-like infections, as these infections are ideally "eaten out" over a period of a few days. However, if the symptoms persist for a few days or get worse, further treatment should be sought with a doctor.
Therapy should then be based on the cause and in order to find this out, further diagnostics are usually required. If a bacterial infection is the cause, antibiotics must be used - the doctor can tell you which remedy is most effective.

If there is a clouding of consciousness or in children, particular caution should be exercised and a doctor should be consulted more quickly.

Also read the article: Cold and back pain.

Home remedies as a therapy option

There are a variety of simple and affordable home remedies to reduce fever.
This includes, for example, the calf wrap: For this purpose, some cloths are dipped in warm water at around 30-35 ° C and then wrapped tightly around the calves. The body temperature can be lowered quite reliably by around 1 ° C within an hour.

Natural pain relieving substances such as willow bark extract can be used against back pain. This substance is also the starting material for the manufacture of the well-known pain reliever aspirin. Heat pillows that are warmed up in warm water or in the microwave can also be placed on the back to alleviate the pain caused by the illness.

The most important and probably the simplest home remedy for fever and back pain, however, is rest and protection, as well as drinking plenty of water and making sure that you get a vitamin supply through fresh vegetables or fruit. You can also dilute the juice of half a lemon with hot water to about a cup, add a few thin slices of ginger and half a teaspoon of honey. The resulting drink can provide relief, especially for flu-like infections, and thus addresses the most common cause of fever and back pain.

Read more about the topic here: Home remedies for a fever.

Homeopathy as a therapy option

In homeopathy one always has to consider the entire clinical picture in connection with the personality of the patient in order to find the right remedy based on the resulting “drug picture”. Therefore, no general drug recommendation can be made at this point. Nevertheless, some homeopathic remedies should be mentioned that are often used for fever and associated back pain.

Gelsemium, for example, is a frequently used remedy for a cold infection that is accompanied by neck pain. Aconitum can also be used if the person is overly sensitive to pain from the disease. Rhus toxcodendron is also said to help if the person feels exhausted and still cannot lie still.
For an individual prescription of a certain homeopathic remedy, however, the respective drug pictures should be compared with the symptoms of the person concerned or a suitably trained person, such as a non-medical practitioner, should be consulted.

The duration

When the fever and back pain, together with any accompanying symptoms, go away, depends largely on their cause. An infection should at least subside or even disappear completely after a few days. If this is not the case, medical advice should be sought accordingly.

In principle, you should go to the doctor at the latest if the fever continues uninterrupted for more than three days, becomes worse or more intense or if there are indications of meningitis.