Are Pernicious Anemia and Low Back Pain Related?

  • Medical Editor: William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

Ask the experts

I was diagnosed with pernicious anemia. I received injections weekly and then monthly. I was told that I would have to have these injections for the rest of my life monthly. Then my doctor told me to wait for 3 months between injections. In addition to the pernicious anemia I am having severe lower back and leg pain. I have osteoporosis and rheumatoid arthritis. This has been going on since April of this year. I have only been able to work half days since June. I cant understand why the doctors have been unable to find a solution to this problem. I am only 49 years old and I want my life back to normal. I cant believe that I am going to have to settle for being this way for the rest of my life. Can you suggest some questions that I could present to my doctor. I am at a loss right now and it seems that they are just throwing up their hands on my problem. Please help if you can.

Doctor's response

Pernicious anemia is an immune disorder characterized by the production of antibodies to cells of the stomach (parietal cells) and proteins (intrinsic factor) produced by the stomach which are important for the normal absorption of vitamin B12. The result is inadequate B12 absorption from food in the diet which leads to inadequate red blood cell production (anemia). Generally, once pernicious anemia is diagnosed, intramuscular B12 injections are continued indefinitely--typically monthly.

As to what specific questions to ask your doctor, you might begin with what is causing your symptoms of lower back and leg pain. When you have a better understanding of what the particular diagnosis of these pains is, you might have a clearer short- and long-term picture.

Medical Author: Carolyn Janet Crandall, M.D.
Medical Editor: William Shiel, MD, FACP, FACR

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Last Editorial Review: 1/11/2018

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