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Understanding Upper Back and Chest Pain

Upper back pain and chest discomfort taking place together can be especially concerning since important organs, such as the heart, may potentially be involved. An understanding of the symptoms, underlying mechanism, and reason for this type of discomfort can help distinguish between a frequently taking place condition and a medical emergency.

Upper back pain that radiates to chest

Thoracic Spine Anatomy and Upper Back Pain

Upper back and chest discomfort may start gradually and get worse over a long time, or it can begin all of a sudden without explanation or after an injury. This pain is normally felt more on one side of the spinal column, but it can be felt on both sides. People with upper back and chest pain typically have several of the following symptoms:

  • Dull achiness that is felt in the upper back and chest, perhaps just on one side, and/or possibly extending into the shoulder area.

  • Burning, sharp, or electric-like discomfort that may aggravate with motion, potentially radiating pain along a rib from the upper back to the chest location.

  • Stiffness in the shoulder, chest, and/or upper back due to discomfort or muscle tightness, which can lower the ability to perform standard tasks, such as getting dressed or driving.

  • Pressure or fullness in the chest rather than pain.

  • Increased pain while breathing or difficulty taking full breaths.

  • Trigger points in the upper back and/or chest that feel tender, sore, or tight, and can flare and spread discomfort to close-by areas when touched.

  • Pins-and-needles tingling or tingling that may be felt along the rib or across a larger location, perhaps more in the chest or back.

  • Discomfort spreads out into the neck and/or arm, which can range from dull to sharp, and could be accompanied by tingling, numbness, and/or weak point.

  • Rib pain that travels along the rib or possibly in between ribs.

In some cases, upper back and chest discomfort reduces with rest or avoiding specific activities, however not constantly. Some individuals may experience increased discomfort when sitting or resting.

Development of Upper Back and Chest Pain.

sharp burning chest pain


The chest and upper back are at a close distance from each other with both sharing numerous ribs that help protect the very same crucial internal organs. A few of the underlying biomechanics that can contribute to both upper back and chest discomfort consist of:

Muscle dysfunction. Muscle inflammation or stress in the chest and/or upper back area can trigger muscle tightness and/or spasms. When one muscle ends up being agonizing or stiff, other nearby muscles might likewise end up being painful in response, such as if they need to work harder. Additionally, tendons, ligaments, or the muscle's connective tissues (fascia) might become overstretched or swollen and refer to discomfort in the chest and upper back.

Nerve compression or inflammation. When a back nerve in the thoracic spinal column (upper back) becomes compressed or inflamed, such as by a bone spur (abnormal bone growth) or thoracic herniated disc, discomfort may travel along the nerve from the upper back to the chest. Degeneration within the costovertebral joint (where the rib meets the thoracic spinal column) could pinch an intercostal nerve and trigger pain along the rib.

An issue with internal organs. Numerous issues or conditions can establish in the heart or lungs, which may send out pain to both the chest and upper back.

Many other aspects may be included with establishing chest and upper pain in the back. In some cases, upper back and chest pain may also have more than one cause or different causes.

Getting a Diagnosis for Upper Back and Chest Pain.

Any abrupt onset of unexplained chest discomfort that sticks around requirements to be assessed by a physician. When assessing upper back and chest pain, a physician usually aims to rule out heart causes before examining other potential causes, such as an injury to the muscles, ribs, or spine.

A qualified physician can properly identify the cause of upper back and chest pain. Once an accurate medical diagnosis is found, an effective treatment strategy can begin.

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