7 Top Causes of Upper Back Pain When Breathing



If you have upper back pain, you can feel it anywhere from the lower part of your neck to the bottom of the ribcage. This can happen due to many reasons, some of them may be mild causes like a muscle strain. But the pain in the upper back can also be a sign of a more serious condition. This mainly happens when you are breathing. So if you feel this symptom, see a doctor or go to the hospital as soon as possible.

When to see a doctor for upper back pain while breathing?

You should see a doctor right away if you have upper back pain and the following symptoms-

  • You find that the pain is coming from the top of your back between the shoulders

  • You have recently fallen or had a back injury, or the pain started after a serious accident

  • You lifted something heavy

  • You have osteoporosis or a weakened immune system or have had cancer

  • Have a fever, unexplained weight loss, or have had a recent bacterial infection

  • You are below 20 years old or over 50 years old

  • Stiffness, weakness, or tingling in your feet or around your genitals

  • Have trouble controlling bowel movements (poo) or passing urine (pee)

  • The pain does not get better even after rest or gets worse at night

  • You are not able to do your daily activities such as sleeping

  • Have chest pain or pain that gets worse when you cough, sneeze or have a bowel movement

  • You are not feeling well, or you have swelling in your back

Causes of Upper back pain while breathing

Non-specific back pain

The back pain that is not due to any specific disease is known as non-specific back pain. It's very common. Although it is often felt in your lower back. If you're trying to find out what's causing your back pain, it's helpful to look at factors in your lifestyle, such as the way you sit or if your work involves lifting heavyweights.

Poor posture

Poor body posture can cause pain by straining the soft tissue and muscles of the back. Muscle strains or sprains are also causes of non-specific back pain. However, if the pain is between your shoulders instead of your lower back, you should see a doctor.


Being overweight can cause back pain and breathing problems. Carrying more weight puts extra pressure on your body. If you are looking to lose weight, try to stick to a healthy diet and regular exercise. Staying active can make your back stronger.

Diagnosis of Upper back pain while breathing

Upper back pain while breathing

Chest infection

If you have a fever, cough, or a high temperature, it could be a sign of a chest infection such as pneumonia or bronchitis. Common symptoms of pneumonia include chest pain that may get worse when breathing. and can cause pain in the muscle joints.


Pleurisy is an inflammation of the thin tissue that lines your lungs and chest cavity, also known as the pleura. One of the main symptoms is a sharp prickling pain in the chest that gets worse when you breathe or cough, and you may feel pain in your upper back and shoulders. Viral infection is the most common cause, with other causes including chest injury, bacterial or fungal infections, or lung cancer.

Pulmonary embolism

If you have pain in your back while breathing, but you also feel shortness of breath, cough, dizziness, and fainting. So it can be a symptom of pulmonary embolism. This is a potentially life-threatening condition when the arteries that carry blood from your heart to your lungs become blocked. If you have these symptoms, consult a doctor immediately.

Heart problem

A heart problem can cause chest pain that can spread to your back, neck, and shoulders when you breathe.

If you have any of these symptoms along with back pain while breathing, it could be a sign of a heart attack and you should seek medical help immediately:

  • Chest, arm, or shoulder pain

  • Pain in the back, neck, or jaw

  • Sickness or dizziness

  • A very strong feeling of anxiety

  • Shortness of breath

When should I go to the doctor if I have upper back pain when I breathe?

If you experience upper back pain while breathing, you should consult your doctor immediately as it could be a sign of a serious condition and needs treatment.

If you have upper back pain while breathing, you should seek medical attention immediately.

We have given you all the information related to the causes of different types of upper back pain while breathing.

If you want to get treated for such issues, then you can opt for ASP Cares, which ensures the best possible treatment for upper back pain with good expertise.

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