The upper back is the area just a few inches below your neck. Pain in the upper back while breathing and moving can be a result of muscle irritation due to overuse, poor posture, and injury to the muscles or ligaments. Depending on the condition, the pain can be moderate to severe.
While all of these problems are associated with upper back pain, back pain while breathing or moving can signify a serious health condition. Some people may feel a sudden sharp pain in their upper back when they breathe; this type of pain can be a sign of pulmonary embolism (a condition when blood clots in the lungs).
Causes of Upper Back Pain While Breathing or Moving
Upper back pain may either be acute or chronic. However, it is better to get it checked by a doctor because in some cases, upper back pain while breathing or moving can indicate a serious health issue like a heart attack or spinal injury. It can cause discomfort throughout the backside of the chest and upper abdominal region.
Some major causes of upper back pain while breathing or moving can include the following:
1) HEART ATTACK
The upper back can be a common location for the spread of pain due to a heart attack. Myocardial infarction (heart attack) clogs the arteries and blocks blood flow to the heart muscles. Because of this, people may experience chest pain that can radiate towards the jaw, shoulders, upper back and cause difficulty in breathing.
Symptoms of heart attack can include shortness of breath, nausea, sudden pain in the chest, cold sweats, and feeling light-headed.
2) POOR POSTURE
Most people don’t pay attention to their postures. Over time, bad posture can become a cause of upper back pain. Hunched shoulders can put too much stress on the back muscles, leading to upper back pain while moving. Poor posture can also make the muscles stiff and thus can be the leading cause of upper back pain in adults as well as in teenagers.
People who sit in one place for a long period of time can develop poor posture. Office workers spend most of their time while working on a computer, sitting in a hunched position. Correcting the body posture can help relieve upper back pain.
Obesity and upper back pain are interlinked. Carrying excess weight can place extra pressure on a person’s back muscles, spine, joints, and other parts of the body. With excessive weight, the spine begins to tilt and curve, which can eventually lead to muscle injury. Some people with obesity find it uncomfortable or even painful to take full, deep breaths. About 72 percent of men and 63 percent of women are affected by obesity, making it the leading cause of upper back pain and breathing issues.
The abnormal curvature of your spine is scoliosis. When the spine curves sideways, it can damage the structure, which can cause extreme pain in the upper back. Patients with severe scoliosis may experience shortness of breath or painful breathing.
Scoliosis can also affect the moving ability of a person. Patients with neuromuscular scoliosis can feel difficulty while walking and may lose their balance while standing.
Symptoms of scoliosis are uneven shoulders, difficulty while breathing, trouble walking, numbness, and weakness.
Feeling a sudden upper back pain while breathing or moving can indicate a serious health condition. It is important not to ignore this type of pain and get it diagnosed by a professional, or else, it can lead to a medical emergency.
Some ways which have the potential to relieve upper back pain and even lower back pain are:
1) Gentle Stretches
The benefits of stretching are long-term. Light stretches can help relieve tension build up in upper back muscles.
The following ways can help loosen your tight muscles.
- Eagle Pose
The Eagle pose is good for building balance. It stretches the upper back and shoulders and improves concentration. It is a great exercise for people with upper back pain and breathing difficulties as it increases the breathing capacity.
To perform this exercise, clasp your right elbow over the left elbow and then clasp your hands. By doing this, you can feel a gentle stretch in your upper back and shoulder blades. Perform this for about 20 – 30 seconds and repeat the process by bringing the other hand over the first one. This exercise can help open up the tight upper back muscles and lessen the stress build-up.
- Table Stretch
Table stretch helps to achieve an upper backstretch. It improves the posture and flattens the back muscles, reducing your stress levels.
Place your arms on the table and walk a few steps back, keeping your arms on the table. Make sure you are tucking in your pelvis and stretching away from the table.
This stretch helps increase the flexibility and circulation of blood to your muscles which can help minimize upper back pain.
- Wall Stretch
Wall stretch can raise the flexibility level and mobility of a person. It stretches the upper back muscles and releases the built-up tension between them.
To perform a wall stretch, stand with the right side of your body facing a wall. Place the right arm against a wall while bending the elbow. The upper arm should be kept straight. Take a step forward and twist to the left. This allows the upper back and shoulder to stretch. Hold yourself for 15 – 20 seconds and repeat the process with the left side.
2) Treatment at Home
Treatment for upper back pain while breathing or moving can be done in several ways at home.
Take pain medications. Pain killers such as Naproxen, Aspirin, and Acetaminophen can help ease the discomfort.
If the pain worsens with the movement, it is better to rest for a while and relax the muscles.
Use ice and heat therapy as ice helps reduce inflammation in muscles, and heating bags can relieve tightness in the upper back and increase blood circulation.
3) Correct Your Sleeping Position
Poor sleeping positions can affect the spine by putting excess pressure on it, and people experience upper back pains regularly because of this, which can make it difficult for you to move freely.
Lying flat on your back and keeping your spine straight is the ideal position to avoid back pain. Use a soft pillow underneath your head and neck to achieve a comfortable position.
Correcting the position you sleep in can help reducing muscle stiffness in the upper back.
4) Quit Smoking
Smoking can be the reason for sharp pain in the upper back while breathing. Everyone knows that smoking leads to lung diseases, cancer, and cardiovascular problems. Most people do not know that smoking can be associated with upper back pain and breathing difficulties. Smoking is directly linked to upper back pain. People who smoke are likely to have upper back pain at an early age.
Smoking causes depletion of collagen in the spinal cord, which can lead to a serious health condition.