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Old 06-30-2010, 11:09 PM   #1
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Upper back pain and shortness of breath

I posted this in the Back Problems forum, but someone pointed me here.

I'll make this concise since I know probably no one wants to read a small novel...I've had back pain between my shoulder blades for the last few days on and off. In addition, I find it slightly harder to breathe now than before (I have been slightly short of breath for no reason for the last few years; the backache augmented the breathing issue).

I was worried it was a heart or lung problem, but since I can feel pain when pressure is applied to the sore spot, I have to assume it's a spinal issue. I have not sustained any injuries to my back or neck ever, haven't been in any accidents, haven't fallen off anything. The pain began after a two-week stay with a friend and after having slept on a rather uneven, saggy, uncomfortable mattress every night during that time. At the end of those two weeks, my back ached like I'd had a cinder block dropped on my spine.

Prior to this pain, that part of my back was just stiff, but now I find I need to give myself a good spinal twist and crack a little more often than before. This is really the only thing that helps.

Right now, the pain is mild, but it's still there. I'm really not sure what caused this or what to do about it. I got a physical a couple days ago and my doctor said I didn't have scoliosis, but it hurt when she rubbed my back where it's been sore. Not a lot, but enough to make me wince a bit.

What would cause this upper back pain? Is it how I sleep? I really don't have money for a chiropractor - my mother actually paid for that physical I had since I have no insurance and no job. So I'm basically limited to stuff I can do at home for myself, and right now I've just been taking an Aleve each day for the aching.

 
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Old 07-01-2010, 12:36 PM   #2
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Re: Upper back pain and shortness of breath

This is a tough one since you have not been evaluted for spinal problems.
Spinal problems are not always caused from injury or serious injury.
Sounds like you may have some muscle type pain. Muscle pain alone can be extremely painful & last a long period of time. Have to tried ice or moist heat? They can really be helpful & ice has been one of my life savers. At times I believe the relief the two can provide is underestimated.
Does it hurt during inhalation, exhalation or both?

I do have problems with painful breathing & with inhalation, I cant get enough air in when I inhale, like my lungs wont expand & this all started with my spinal problems. I dont think its as common as other symptoms but it has been brought up by others here.

You can try sleeping on a firmer mattress, if yours is not firm maybe putting a board under it. Not exactly sure how that works, maybe someone else can help there. It won't hurt by trying this & the ice & heat. Try to limit any lifting & activity that may bother your upper back & see if there is improvement.
Without a good exam its hard to say & spinal injuries/problems can be hard to diagnosis even with all the testing & a good doctor.

You may want to keep a journal to see what adds to the pain or what improves it. Also pay attention to your neck to see if it can be adding to the pain. You may want to try a cervical pillow or a roll under the neck to see if it makes a difference. Remember pain radiates so it can be coming from higher up in the neck area.

Of course I'm just throwing things out there but its a starting point. If you do believe its spinal stay away from Chiros, as you have not clue whats going on in there & I would not want anyone messing with that area till you know for sure. Although chiros at times will do x-rays for cheaper then doctors. Not that much may show in an x-ray but you never know. Massage may help also.

Good luck & hopefully someone else will chime in here. Sammy

 
Old 07-01-2010, 12:58 PM   #3
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Re: Upper back pain and shortness of breath

Hi did the Dr. test your heart? Maybe a bed change change would help. In the past a dippy bed or a hard bed made for more difficulty in spinal comfort. There are lots of causes for shortness of breath. Did he listen to your chest and say anything about it?

 
Old 07-01-2010, 04:54 PM   #4
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Re: Upper back pain and shortness of breath

Do you have someone you trust that can take some baby oil or mineral oil and slowly move their fingers all over your back from waist up to neck? If you have 'trigger points' they might find small marbles in the muscles. If they find one, have them press hard with their thumb for 10 seconds to see if the marble softens. Trigger points are common and cause 'referred pain.' The pain, or in essence shortening of the muscle, can inhibit you from taking a breath. The pain can be felt a distance from the marble.

Your muscles may have been trying to compensate for the bad bed you were on for a length of time and are now sore and knotty. It will take time (weeks to months), moist heat or ice pack to relieve some of the pain and then very gentle stretching.

If you have access to a public library, I'm sure you can find some great books about trigger points and muscle spasms.

If the ligaments that run along the spine also got stressed, it will take even longer for them to heal. You also have cartilage between your ribs that also could have been stressed......Do you feel better after taking a warm/hot shower and just letting the shower stream pound of your back? Try it - and if you have a sitting stool to put in the shower, sit on it, lean forward and just let the water massage your back for awhile, then go rest.

I hope you can find some simple home remedies to ease your pain! Let us know!

 
Old 08-20-2010, 11:54 PM   #5
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Re: Upper back pain and shortness of breath

Yes, my doctor did listen to everything...didn't say anything about a heart or lung abnormality, so I guess that's fine. I've yet to get a diagnosis for the breathing issues, but I think there's a high probability they are caused by anxiety issues rather than anything physical. I'm still sore now, but not as bad. I still just feel kinda stiff in the same spot, but it's more or less bearable. It doesn't keep me from sleeping or anything.

And yes, hot baths and showers help...sometimes I just soak because I find them relaxing, or I'm really cold and the warmth feels wonderful (not so much in the summertime, though). But it's not too long-term of a solution because I get sore all over again. Maybe I just sit at my computer too much, but I do a lot of work at home online, so sitting like this for a while is usually just what I have to do.

Thanks for all the advice, everyone. I appreciate everyone's input and I hope I can put some to use.

 
Old 08-21-2010, 07:58 PM   #6
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Re: Upper back pain and shortness of breath

Hello there dark stranger, Did he do an EkG?

 
Old 08-21-2010, 09:30 PM   #7
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Re: Upper back pain and shortness of breath

sjb,

No, my doctor didn't do anything beyond just the basics. Since I was going to this visit uninsured and I was not paying for it, I wasn't allowed to bring up any health concerns. I did have an EKG a few years back which I guess showed nothing abnormal (I'm guessing that no news is good news).

 
Old 08-25-2010, 11:38 AM   #8
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Re: Upper back pain and shortness of breath

Hi Dark stranger, thanks I have never heard of a doctor visit where you were not allowed to discuss health concerns. My sympathies sjb

 
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