While most back pain is focused entirely in the back, there are times when people experience chest and back pain concurrently. When this becomes chronic, it can be debilitating. All of life seems to revolve around that chest and back pain. But it is confusing. What can cause both chest and back pain at once?
Causes of Chest and Back Pain
1. Inflammation: The relationship between the chest and back pain can sometimes be linked to inflammation in one radiating to the other. For example, a lung inflammation can fill the entire chest cavity with pain. It can then radiate chest pain to the back.
2. Heart Attack: During a heart attack, patients may experience both chest and back pain. Most heart attacks involve chest pain, but many times, they can have both chest and back pain.
3. Spinal Injury: In the event of a spinal injury, nerves may not limit their pain message to the back. They may make you feel both chest and back pain. If you know you have a spinal injury, you will likely assume the chest pain is related. You should ask a doctor to be sure.
4. Broken Ribs: Those who have experienced broken, or even bruised ribs, can testify to the relation between chest and back pain felt until the ribs heal. At times, it may feel that the back also has been fractured.
5. Spinal Twisting: When the spine is out of alignment, or twisted even slightly, the vertebrae that connect to the ribs put pressure on the ribs. The result can be a combination of chest and back pain.
6. Stress: Many times, chest and back pain are a result of stress, of responding to stressors by tightening muscles of the upper body.
Treatment of Chest and Back Pain
The first treatment for chest and back pain is a visit to your health care provider. You yourself will probably be unable to link pain in the chest and back pain. You will not know the source of the pain. A physical exam can determine whether the cause is located in the chest or back.
Some conditions involving chest and back pain will call for medical intervention. Some will respond to a day or two of alternating cold and hot compresses. Some may need deep massage for temporary relief, a stress management plan for more long-term relief.
Under your doctor’s guidance, if there is no major complication, you will likely begin an exercise program to relieve both the chest and back pain.