When you breathe, you use a lot of different muscles. It’s a complicated process that requires the expansion and contraction of lungs, heart, stomach, and even back muscles to occur in tandem. So, it’s no wonder that pain can occur during breathing when something is amiss.
Back pain when breathing can be a symptom of many conditions, including lung problems and even heart disease. Depending on the severity of your pain and other symptoms, it may also be a sign of a medical emergency that needs immediate attention. This article investigates some of the possible causes of back pain when breathing and explains when to seek medical attention.
Most commonly, back pain when breathing occurs because of a musculoskeletal issue, such as a pulled muscle or a herniated disc. This type of pain can usually be managed with conservative treatment, such as rest, over-the-counter medications, physical therapy, and basic strengthening and stretching exercises.
Breathing is made possible by a large muscle in the center of your body called the diaphragm. Normally, when you inhale, the muscle tightens and moves downward to create space for the lungs to expand. During deep breathing, however, the muscle becomes fatigued and can irritate the spinal cord or nerves that run through it.
Other common reasons for back pain when breathing include a sprained neck or spine, inflammation of the lining of the lungs (a condition known as pleurisy), or pressure from a rib cage that is not properly aligned. If you experience pain in your middle back that increases with breath, or any other unexplained symptoms, make sure to speak with a doctor right away.