Why Does My Upper Back Hurts When I Breathe?

In most the cases, pain breathing is always misunderstood to mean something else other than what is the actual cause. This is the reason why you will develop complications without knowing that the pained breathing had some underlying causes.

The chest is one of the areas of focus. It feels heavy and congested, accompanied by some sharp pain. When this happens, we say that you have a chest pain.  This pain may have something to do the ribs and in turn, you will have pain breathing.

See: Why Does My Chest Hurt When I Breathe in Deeply

The ribs move up and down, depending on whether you are exhaling or inhaling. In either case, there is some force involved. When one is tired, obese or has some injuries, the effort applied to breathe is greater than when you are breathing in a relaxed way.  As such one should strive to find out the cause of the pained breathing.

The lower, middle and the upper back are some of the first areas where one feels the full force of the pain. It will usually start at the upper back, shoulders, arms, and jaws and then it will, of course, be felt in the middle and lower back.  The pain could be so severe as to warrant some rest.

If you are having a problem with breathing such as shortness of breath, it is possible that you have some underlying problems. Take the case of the congestive heart disease. This is a problem to do with the heart but it manifests itself through the pain breathing among others.

The asthmatic patients are another lot when it comes to the problem of breathing. The airwaves are blocked and one is not able to breathe well. In such cases, they will be forced to use inhalers to aid in the breathing.

If you have gained some weight in the last few weeks, do not be surprised if you start experiencing this pain. The actual breathing is a labored one and you will even find yourself breaking some sweat just to keep up with your breathing.

An internal injury such as a broken rib could cause the pain breathing that we are talking about. If you have been involved in an accident but had no physical signs of injury, you are better off seeing a doctor. Y our could have broken a rib which is now pressing against the ribs. When such a situation arises, you will feel a lot of pain.


What Causes Deep Breath Back Pain?

It so happens that one experiences upper back pain when they take a deep breath. This is what we are calling deep breath back pain. The reasoning behind it all is that the thoracic spine is connected to the rib. When one coughs or sneezes, there seems to be some sharp pain originates from this area.

The deep breath back pain is not limited to just the upper part of the body. There is also a pain in the middle of the back, which we technically call the mid-back. The shoulders and the neck are also affected.

Soothe question that has often been asked is how the deep breath back pain actually happens. To start with, the rib is strained. The rib cage takes toll of this strain and this is the reason for the pain. To understand this better, we are going to look at the rib as a bucket handle which is used to lift and take down a rim of water. The inflation and deflation of the rib cage function much the same way so that we are able to breathe in and out. The process is usually unconscious to us, so we rarely think about it.

When You Are Tired

This process is not always perfect and along the way, something happens and we experience pain. When you are tired of the instance, the lifting of the rib becomes wearisome and you find yourself straining to breathe. Since one has to breathe anyway, you end up working against reluctant ribs and the result is the deep breath back pain.


People who are unfit or overweight are the most affected. They give their ribs some extra work for the inhalation and exhalation. This explains why it is advisable to watch on the weight and take part in some physically exerting activities without placing so much on the rib cage.

Arm and Chest Pain

The arms do a lot of physical work. However, stain so much as to affect the upper part of the body and this is the reason why for instance, the upper back pain is inevitable. There is the mid back pain as earlier mentioned but the cause be as little as some persistent coughing, sneezing, raised muscle tone and poor posture to name but a few.

Do not ignore a chest pain that does not go away even after a few days or resumes when you engage in a physical activity. It is sally advisable to take some adequate rest when having problems breathing.


Where necessary, you should go to the hospital and have the airwaves checked. In some cases, you will have oxygen delivered in tubes through the nose to assist you in breathing. People with asthma, congestive heart diseases, lung cancer, and coronary artery disease are some of the groups of people who experience this kind of problem with breathing.


If you smoke, you have to stop forthwith and asthmatic, then an inhaler will be needed. One should be careful when changing environments such as moving to higher altitudes. This is because breathing problems might arise.

Deformed backbone

The spine or the backbone could be deformed for one reason or another. If you continue overworking yourself, you will be putting a strain on it and this could manifest itself through the pain.

Spitting blood shows that you have a problem internally. The pain could be originating from the rib and unbeknown to you, the pressure could be building up when you try to breath.

Back-breaking duties could worsen your back. The lower back, in particular, is affected when you lift heavy objects. It is advisable to take a bed rest and even take some pain relievers.

When to see a doctor?

The strange feeling that one feels in the upper back due to pressure in the chest is not something to be taken lightly. It could be a sign of a heart attack or an injury that is inside the chest or the spine. Whilst the pain can be managed easily at home, one should call a doctor if any of the following are experienced.

Chest pain

As noted above, chest pain may be so severe as to necessitate an action. There could be pressure in the chest area, leading to pain. This strange feeling may be as a result of a pain or something else that is affecting the back. Only a doctor would help to diagnose it.


Sweating profusely even when resting is not a good sign. It means that you have an underlying problem such as a possible heart attack. You should arrange for treatment at the nearest hospital for the upper back pain and shortness of breath.

Shortness of breath

Breathing rapidly or faster than usual indicates that you are taking less oxygen than the standard and so forced to breathe faster to compensate for the little air entering the air passages. When this happens, you will have labored breathing and the problem might be worse if it continues. Upper back pain and shortness of breath should be given the attention it deserves and hence the reason for seeking medical attention.

Vomiting and nausea

Those who have had upper back pain and shortness of breath will report back experiencing vomiting or nausea. The whole problems related to the back pain and the breathing problems lying beneath.

Neck and jaw

The neck and jaw are affected by the pain so much as to necessitate seeking medical attention. This pain starts at the upper back, mid-back and then moves to the neck and jaw.

Upper belly, arms, and shoulders

The above are other parts of the body are affected when one has the upper back pain and shortness of breath. One experiences sharp pain which radiates from the back. This Pain comes once and then there are repeat attacks at different times.

Being lightheaded or dizziness is not a good sign and one should seek medical attention immediately. It is as a result of the pain brought about by the rib cage laboring to carry out the gaseous exchange.

Others complain of having a severe headache and this may not also be good given the fact that it results from the pressure in the spine or the ribs.


The heartbeat of the people with pain in the chest is usually faster than usual. When you realize that you are exceeding heartbeats per minute for a healthy adult, then there is a problem in your chest area. The pressure in the ribs causes an accelerated breathing, which in turn causes faster beating of the heart. That is the best time to seek medical attention.

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