Middle back pain when breathing is a common yet debilitating condition that affects many people. It can range from mild discomfort to sharp, stabbing pain and can be caused by a variety of factors, including improper posture, injury or underlying medical conditions. In this article, we’ll look at the causes and treatments for middle back pain when breathing, as well as some tips for prevention.
Muscle strain or injury in the middle back
Muscle strain or injury in the middle back can be a common cause of middle back pain. Muscle strains occur when the muscles in the back are overused, overstretched or torn. This type of injury can result from overexertion or sudden movements that put too much strain on the muscles. Symptoms may include pain in the area when breathing, as well as difficulty moving and performing everyday tasks.
Spinal misalignment or subluxation
Spinal misalignment or subluxation is a condition in which one or more of the vertebrae become misaligned, creating an imbalance in the spine. This can lead to pain and discomfort in the middle back area when breathing. Symptoms may include pain when breathing, difficulty moving, and tension or tightness in the affected area. Treatment for this condition typically involves chiropractic care or physical therapy.
Arthritis or degenerative spinal conditions
Arthritis and degenerative spinal conditions can also cause middle back pain when breathing. Osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and degenerative disc disease are all types of arthritis that affect the spine and can lead to chronic middle back pain. In some cases, the vertebrae may become compressed, causing pressure on the surrounding muscles and nerves, resulting in pain when breathing. Treatment for this condition may include medications, physical therapy, or surgery.
Pleurisy or inflammation of the lining of the lungs
Pleurisy, or inflammation of the lining of the lungs, is a common cause of middle back pain when breathing. This condition occurs when the pleura, a layer of tissue that surrounds and protects the lungs, becomes inflamed. Symptoms may include chest pain or discomfort in the middle back area when breathing, as well as difficulty taking deep breaths or coughing. Treatment typically includes rest and avoiding activities that worsen the pain, as well as medications to reduce inflammation.
Pneumonia or lung infections
Pneumonia is an infection of the lungs that can lead to middle back pain when breathing. Symptoms include chest pain, shortness of breath, and difficulty taking deep breaths. Pneumonia is caused by bacteria, viruses, or fungi and may require treatment with antibiotics. In some cases, the infection can spread to the pleura (the lining of the lungs) and cause pleurisy, which can also cause pain when breathing. Treatment typically includes medications to reduce inflammation and antibiotics to treat the infection.
Lung cancer or tumors affecting the breathing process
Lung cancer or tumors can also cause middle back pain when breathing. Lung cancer is a type of cancer that affects the lungs and can lead to difficulty taking deep breaths and chest pain. Symptoms may include chest pain, shortness of breath, and coughing up blood. Treatment typically includes surgery, chemotherapy, or radiation therapy depending on the type and stage of the cancer. In some cases, tumors can form in the lungs or pleura and cause pain when breathing. Treatment may include removing the tumor surgically or using medications to reduce inflammation.
Other Possible Causes
Acid reflux or GERD
Acid reflux or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is a digestive disorder that can cause middle back pain when breathing. GERD occurs when the muscles of the lower esophagus are weakened, allowing stomach acid to flow back up and irritate the throat and chest area. Symptoms may include chest pain, difficulty swallowing, and pain when breathing. Treatment typically includes lifestyle changes, such as avoiding certain foods and eating smaller meals, as well as medications to reduce stomach acid production.
Anxiety or panic attacks
Anxiety or panic attacks can also cause middle back pain when breathing. Anxiety is a feeling of fear or worry that can lead to physical symptoms, such as chest tightness and difficulty taking deep breaths. Panic attacks occur when the body experiences an intense surge of fear or anxiety, resulting in shortness of breath, rapid heartbeat, and chest pain. Treatment typically includes medications to reduce anxiety, cognitive -behavioral therapy, and relaxation techniques.
Rib fracture or injury
Rib fracture or injury can also cause middle back pain when breathing. A rib fracture is a break in one of the bones of the rib cage, which can be caused by trauma such as a car accident or fall. Symptoms may include chest pain, difficulty taking deep breaths, and pain when moving or coughing. Treatment typically includes rest and avoiding activities that worsen the pain, as well as medications to reduce inflammation.
Treatment and Management
Rest and physical therapy for musculoskeletal causes
Rest and physical therapy can be beneficial for musculoskeletal causes of middle back pain when breathing. Resting the affected area helps to reduce inflammation and allow the body time to heal itself, while physical therapy can help to strengthen muscles in the back and abdomen that support proper breathing mechanics. Physical therapy may also involve stretching exercises to help maintain flexibility in the chest and rib cage muscles. It is important to speak with a doctor before starting any new exercise program.
Medications or treatments for respiratory causes
Medications or treatments for respiratory causes of middle back pain when breathing may include antibiotics, anti-inflammatory drugs, and other medications to treat the underlying cause of the pain. For pneumonia, antibiotics are typically prescribed to fight the infection and reduce symptoms. Anti-inflammatory medications can also be used to reduce inflammation in the chest and lungs. For lung cancer or tumors affecting the breathing process, surgery may be required to remove them.
Lifestyle changes and home remedies for other causes
Lifestyle changes and home remedies can be useful for other causes of middle back pain when breathing. Eating smaller meals, avoiding foods that may trigger acid reflux or GERD, and avoiding activities that may worsen the pain can help reduce symptoms of acid reflux or GERD. Practicing relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, meditation, yoga, or mindfulness can also help to reduce anxiety and panic attacks.
Seeking medical attention for persistent or severe pain
It is important to seek medical attention for persistent or severe pain in the middle back when breathing, as this can be a sign of an underlying condition requiring treatment. Your doctor may order tests, including chest X-rays and blood tests, to determine the cause of your pain. Depending on the cause of your pain, your doctor may prescribe medications or other treatments to help manage symptoms and reduce discomfort.
Middle back pain when breathing can be caused by a variety of factors, including muscle strain or injury in the middle back, arthritis or degenerative spinal conditions, pleurisy or inflammation of the lining of the lungs, pneumonia or lung infections, acid reflux or GERD, anxiety or panic attacks, and rib fracture or injury. Treatment and management usually involves rest and physical therapy for mus culoskeletal causes, medications or treatments for respiratory causes, lifestyle changes and home remedies for other causes, and seeking medical attention for persistent or severe pain. Prevention is also important and can be achieved by practicing good posture, maintaining a healthy weight, avoiding activities that aggravate the condition, and learning proper breathing techniques.