What causes Back Pain when Breathing? — Credihealth Blog

Back pain issues with age are frequent and may disappear on their own. But Back discomfort that worsens with breathing may indicate a serious health problem. Sharp discomfort in the back or chest can have various reasons, including inflammation, infection, spinal curvature, and even lung cancer. If you are dealing with middle or lower back pain when breathing, this article is for you. Continue reading to understand the most common cause of back pain when breathing. 

Can breathing issues trigger back pain?

Different underlying medical conditions can cause back pain while breathing like; Scoliosis, heart attack, obesity, lung cancer or pulmonary embolism or pneumonia, and others. The pain could be sharp or slight. It ranges from inflammation or infection in the chest or spinal curvature. The pain accompanied by shortness of breath or chest pain is often a symptom of pulmonary embolism or lung or heart problems. 

Sometimes the pain while breathing is not serious, like in the case of the common cold. It can go on its own. But if that is not the case, try to get medical help as soon as possible. It is better to get diagnosed before the situation becomes worse.

Also, Read What causes Shortness of breath after eating?

Medical conditions that can cause back pain when breathing – 

Pulmonary Embolism – 

A pulmonary embolism has shortness of breath caused by a blood clot in an artery of your lungs. This can be more than pain in the back. It can cost you your life. So be careful with this condition. Be cautious of the affected area’s chest, back, and neck pain. 

Other symptoms of the disease could be an irregular heartbeat, lightheadedness, rapid breathing, restlessness, coughing blood, and a weak pulse.

Heart attack –

Back pain while breathing can also be due to a blocked artery or plaque. Heart attacks are life-threatening. They need immediate attention. Some heart attack symptoms are chest pain and a sense of pressure in the chest. Pain in both arms, jaw pain, lightheadedness, nausea, and vomiting. People with these symptoms should be extra careful.

Lung cancer –

Lung cancer can be the reason for your back pain. Since it often does not cause symptoms in the early stages, it isn’t easy to diagnose. One common symptom is the severity of pain. If they worsen, they can spread to other parts of the body. It can also press on the nerves in the spine and affect breathing. Other symptoms of lung cancer are a chronic cough, coughing up blood, recurring respiratory infections, difficulty swallowing, and loss of appetite. 

Obesity –

Excess of weight but extreme pressure on the joints of the back, joints in the legs, and other parts of the body. Obesity makes it very uncomfortable for people to take full deep breaths.

The condition can improve by losing weight with a calorie-restricted diet or exercising regularly. Losing weight can also be due to hormonal causes of low thyroid function.


Pneumonia is a lung disease that fills the tiny sacs (alveoli) in the lungs with fluid. Symptoms of pneumonia are chest pain, abdominal pain, and pain in the back when breathing. A person can also have fever, chills, coughing phlegm, shortness of breath, and loss of appetite. 

Doctors prescribe antibiotics based on the symptoms of the infections. Severe symptoms of pneumonia disease may need hospitalization.


It is the sideways curvature of the spinal cord. The curvature of the spine builds up pressure on the lungs and makes breathing painful. The symptoms of scoliosis include back pain, weakness or numbness in the hands and feet, uneven shoulders, hips, or rib cage, difficulty standing up straight, problems walking, and shortness of breath. 

The treatment of scoliosis is dependent on the severity of the curve and the curve positions of the spine and bone maturity. The doctor then suggests therapy or surgery. Back braces can straighten the spine in mild cases and reduce back pain.

Strained muscles –

Muscles can get strained due to an injury or repetitive use of the same muscle. If you’ve strained a muscle in your back, it will be a sharp pain on the side of your body or when you breathe.

Symptoms of a strained muscle are sudden pain when breathing and moving, muscle spasms, reduced range of motion, and trouble bending over. Proper diagnosis by a medical professional can help understand if your injury is a muscle strain or a more serious issue.

Also, Read Understanding Back Pain: Causes and Preventive Measures.

FAQs –

What are the treatment options for back pain due to lung cancer?

Treatment options for back pain for lung cancer depend on factors like the type of lung cancer, location, size, stage of cancer, and the person’s health.

What are the other conditions that can cause back pain while breathing?

Kyphosis is another condition like scoliosis. It causes a person’s spine to curve in the forward direction, which looks like a hunched posture. This can be due to a spinal injury or aging. It is treatable with physical therapy.

Pleurisy is the inflammation of the pleura. The pleura is a thin membrane that lines and protects the chest and lung cavities. Inflammation of these thin membranes can cause breathing difficulty and sharp pain that can spread to the shoulders or back. Antibiotics can reduce inflammation in the case of pleurisy.

When to see a doctor for back pain?

Seek medical help immediately for back or chest pain accompanying shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, severe coughing or coughing up blood, dizziness, lightheadedness, or loss of consciousness. It can cause pain in one or both arms or swell in the legs. It can also cause weakness or numbness in the foot.

Also, Read How to cure shortness of breath due to acid reflux?

Conclusion – 

There are different causes of back pain based on medical diagnosis and symptoms. Some of these conditions can be life-threatening. Hence it is important to take any pain. You should seek your medical healthcare provider if the pain worsens. Get medical attention immediately if you suspect lower or middle back pain while breathing.

For more information and FREE personalized guidance speak to Credihealth medical experts at +918010994994

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