Pain in Back when Breathing

By , Category : Pain

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Back PainWhether you’re an exercise buff, enjoy an occasional walk or bike ride around your neighborhood, or even type daily e-mails on your computer, chances are at some point you have experienced back pain.

An estimated 80% of Americans will experience some form of back pain in their lives; and according to the American Chiropractic Association, 31 million Americans deal with back pain at any given time! The back is highly susceptible to injury, because it’s responsible for twisting, bending, rotating, and lifting.

In fact, most everyday activities could contribute to aches and pains in the back—everything from typing at the computer to tying a shoe. But what about the pain in back when breathing?

What Causes Pain in Back When Breathing?

Upper back pain while breathing is typically related to a sprained rib, where the rib keys into the side of the spine. Each time you inhale and exhale, the lungs will inflate with air and then empty again. Your ribs must be pliable and healthy to ensure breathing goes unhindered and the rest of your body functions accordingly.

When the rib is strained, the head of the rib will rub into the side of the disc, causing the rib to go into a protective clench to keep the rib still. The rib-to-spine junction won’t run coordinated, which can lead to problems with chest functions (i.e. breathing). This is what causes excruciating back and sometimes even chest pain when breathing.

Furthermore, repeated coughing (as part of a chest infection from the flu or pneumonia, for example) can leave you with a strained rib, which can lead to pain in back while breathing.

Top 4 Medical Causes of Pain in Back when Breathingcauses of pain in back when breathing

1. Injury: Any injury to the chest can cause pain when breathing. If you break a rib, the chest wall will continue with normal respiration, causing the small fragments of the broken rib to rub together and cause pain. If you bruise or pull a muscle, the same type of pain can occur.

2. Lung infection: A lung infection can make it very difficult to breathe. For example, pneumonia can cause shortness of breath and fever symptoms; the longer the symptoms last, the more painful each breath will be.

3. Blood clots: A pulmonary embolism (a blood clot in your lungs) can lead to trouble breathing or shortness of breath.

4. Cardiac conditions: Our hearts are surrounded by a layer of tissue called pericardium, which joins the lining of the lungs together. Inflammation that occurs in the lungs will cause pain with every breath if the pericardium becomes inflamed.

Strenuous back pain while breathing has also been linked to people who are obese or overweight. Excess weight can place tremendous stress on the spine and clog the airway, which causes shortness of breath.

Natural Ways to Treat Pain in Back when Breathingpain in back when breathing treatment

  • Get up and moving: Of course, your body needs rest, but don’t lie on your back all day—keep active and moving with light activity. If the pain is unbearable, then lie down for a few hours before getting active again.
  • Hot and cold compresses: To reduce pain in the back after an injury, apply an ice pack to the injured area—this will numb the pain and reduce swelling. After two days, place a heat compress on the injured area—this will help stimulate blood flow and soothe the pain in back.
  • Minimize pressure on the back: Make sure you don’t place too much extra, unnecessary pressure on the back. When you have to pick up a (small) item, bend at your knees to pick it up.

If you are suffering from pain in back when breathing, your physician will evaluate how serious the pain is, and treat accordingly. The good news is that in most cases, the back pain can go away with simple rest, physical therapy, and home exercises.

See More :

“Upper back pain when breathing,”;, last accessed June 22, 2015.
Nall, R., “What’s Causing My Back Pain and Shortness of Breath,” Healthline web site, April 10, 2014;
Folkl, A., “What Are the Causes of Pain When Breathing?”, May 5, 2015;
“Back Pain Facts & Statistics,” American Chiropractic Association web site;, last accessed June 22, 2015.

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Richard M. Foxx, MD has decades of medical experience with a comprehensive background in endocrinology, aesthetic and laser medicine, gynecology, and sports medicine. He has extensive experience with professional athletes, including several Olympic competitors. Dr. Foxx practices aesthetic and laser medicine, integrative medicine, and anti-aging medicine. He is the founder and Medical Director of the Medical and Skin Spa located in Indian Wells, California, at the Hyatt Regency Resort. Dr. Foxx is certified by the National Board of Medical Examiners... Read Full Bio »