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Upper Back Pain During Breathing – Should I Be Worried?

Mar 15, 2022 | Blog, Upper back pain when breathing

Upper back pain while breathing can serve as an indicator for a wide variety of issues, including infections, trauma, or even heart abnormalities. It may not seem important but getting a medical professional’s opinion is the best route.

Since there are various causes of this issue, looking for other signs and symptoms will help properly identify the reason for upper back pain when breathing. Pain during inhalation may involuntarily make the individual take short breaths which will resultantly disrupt oxygen supply.

Causes for Upper Back Pain When Breathing

There are various reasons for upper back pain; let’s have a look at some below:


This condition hits the body tissues covering the outer lungs; the infections cause inflammation and consequent swelling leading to pain in the chest while breathing, radiating towards the back. Other symptoms that linger are tiredness and fever with a fast heart rate.

You may not require treatment for this condition as, in some cases, adequate rest and pain killers are sufficient. However, you may need medical intervention in severe cases and get the fluid out from the lungs.

Strained Muscles

Strained muscles commonly cause upper back pain, which may worsen when breathing in. this happens because the air is inhaled or exhaled, the back muscles stretch. You may hurt your muscle after heavy strenuous exercise, lifting, etc.

The good news is that strains are easily reversed with good rest coupled with NSAIDs and ice. You can use a towel for wrapping the ice and place it on the back muscles to lower down the swelling.

Vertebra Fracture

Vertebra makes up your spine. When the person suffers from a serious accident, such as a car crash or falling off a height, the spine is usually injured, resulting in upper back pain that makes even breathing difficult.

Patients with osteoporosis have weak bones are at higher susceptibility of breaking them from even minor impacts. The pain worsens with movement.
The treatment plan depends on the injury severity. Usually, physiotherapy, back brace, and medicines are combined for pain relief and appropriate healing.

Panic Disorder

Panic disorder is a combination of short episodes as well as anxiety about the attacks. Fear all of a sudden or anxiety rush is common, and some of the symptoms include heavy, painful breathing, upper or lower back pain, shaking, sweating, etc.

A mix of psychotherapy and medication, along with relaxation techniques, is beneficial. However, you must figure out the right regimen because the triggers differ amongst individuals; root targeting is required.


In this condition, the spine curves sideways, causing pain and discomfort according to the severity of the curve. The patient with issues in the spine has even hips and body tilted towards one side. This back pain may cause difficulty in breathing as well. Back braces and strengthening exercises work well as a treatment plan.

Arrhythmia or Heart Attack

Heart troubles lead to pain in various areas such as the chest back arms and also cause breathing issues. The symptoms to look out for are:

  • Dizzy
  • Chest or back pain
  • Jaw lock
  • Breathing difficulties


It is essential to know why your back aches while breathing. Is it because of a simple reason, strain, or is there a grave condition behind it. You should call one of our pulmonologists in Tomball or Houston at Pulmonary Medical Consultants at 281 357 1300
for help.


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