Back pain when breathing – causes, symptoms and treatment

Back pain when breathing

Many people may suffer back pain when breathing but what is the cause? The truth is that there are many possible causes, some serious and some less so. We are going to take a look at some of the common reasons for this type of pain and what can be done about them.

Heart attack causing back pain when breathing

One of the more serious reason that you may experience this type of pain would be a heart attack.

Heart attacks can happen at any time of your life but it is more common in men over the age of 45 and women over the age of 50. When a heart attack occurs, you may experience back pain along with, but not limited to some of the following symptoms:

  • Chest pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Jaw pain
  • Nausea
  • Pain in one or both arms

A heart attack occurs when the blood supply to the heart is diminished and is a serious condition which requires immediate medical attention.

Being overweight does not help

It may be surprising to learn that obesity can be a cause of back pain when breathing, but it is certainly many symptoms that carrying extra weight can bring.

The reason for this is due to the added pressure that excess weight places on the muscles and ligaments, causing them to become strained and therefore any movement, even something as small as taking a breath, can be uncomfortable.

Pleurisy causing back pain when breathing

Our lungs are surrounded by a thin membrane layer called the pleura and sometimes this can become inflamed.

The condition may have a scary, serious sounding name and in truth there are many causes ranging from cancer to an injury, but the condition can be easily treated with antibiotics.

When the pleura becomes inflamed, the act of breathing can send a radiating pain through the entire torso, including the back.

Problems caused due to pneumonia

Pneumonia is a condition that occurs when an infection in the lungs causes the tiny air sacs within them to fill with fluid. The condition can become serious, even life threatening if left untreated.

The infection itself and the tightened capacity in the lungs are to blame for the pain, and you may experience some or all of the following symptoms as well as back pain.

  • Shortness of breath
  • Coughing and wheezing
  • Fever
  • Vomiting
  • Loss of appetite

Injuries that are causing the back pain

One of the less worrying reasons for this type of pain is an injury to the back, most likely a strained or pulled muscle. Whilst this will get better in time, it is important to remember to take extra care and rest to reduce the healing time.

What can you do about it

It is always important not to ignore any sort of pain but especially when it is related to your breathing. You should always consult your doctor or if you are experiencing any of the symptoms related to more serious conditions such as heart attack, you should call for emergency medical assistance.

Below are some helpful tips for dealing with back pain when breathing.

  • If you believe you are in the midst of a heart attack, call for an ambulance immediately.
  • Opt for a healthier diet and include exercise in your daily routine in order to lose weight.
  • If you believe you have a less serious underlying medical condition, book and appointment to see your doctor and follow their advice, whether that be medication, lifestyle changes or otherwise.
  • If you have a breathing related condition which worsen the pain such as pneumonia, asthma, COPD etc, it is important to look after your lungs by not smoking, leading a healthy lifestyle and ensuring you take your medication should you have any.
  • Injuries can be treated with painkillers, ice or heat packs and lots of rest.
  • To avoid further injury to the back, you should take care when lifting heavy objects and take part in regular exercise to strengthen the back against future injury risks.



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