Addison's disease, also called adrenal insufficiency, occurs when the adrenal glands do not produce enough cortisol. Cortisol has hundreds functions in the body, but its main job is to help the body manage stress and to react to pain and comfort. Many symptoms can result from adrenal insufficiency; back pain is one of them.
Symptoms usually arise slowly. Fatigue, weight loss, back pain and nausea are common. Since the symptoms are gradual, it is often not until a stressful event or an illness occurs that a patient takes notice.
During an adrenal crisis, a patient may experience severe pain in the lower back, vomiting, dehydration, low blood pressure and/or loss of consciousness. Twenty- five percent of adrenal insufficiency patients do not seek medical help until they have an adrenal crisis.
The back pain may be acute, sharp, severe and unbearable. It may radiate down the legs and/or the abdomen.
Adrenal insufficiency must be addressed and treated as soon as possible. If left untreated, it may become fatal.
A doctor may suspect adrenal insufficiency based on the patient's complaints such as back pain, weight loss and overall tiredness. Also, a dark tanning of the skin is an excellent clue in diagnosing the disease.
Hormone replacement, substitution and therapy are all used to treat the disease and help with the pain and discomforts. Patients are urged to wear a medical ID bracelet or carry a card stating they suffer with adrenal insufficiency.