Back pain when breathing can be a troublesome symptom with several potential causes. Most cases are related to strained muscles, although more serious health conditions, including heart problems, can have the same symptoms. Since treatment begins with an accurate diagnosis, any kind of pain while breathing should be reported to a doctor right away. If the symptoms develop suddenly, the patient should report to the nearest emergency room in order to rule out any potentially life-threatening medical emergencies.
Muscle strains are common and are the leading cause of back pain when breathing. A muscle typically becomes strained, or pulled, due to overuse. Once the muscle strain has been accurately diagnosed, the patient will generally be instructed to take over-the-counter or prescription medications and rest the affected muscles while they heal. Heat or ice therapy may also be recommended.
A more serious cause of back pain when breathing is a collapsed lung, also known as a pneumothorax. In this condition, pressure builds up in the chest cavity, potentially interrupting the blood supply to the rest of the body. This is a medical emergency, and delayed treatment is potentially fatal.
Haemoptysis, or coughing up blood from the lungs, can also cause a back ache while breathing. Several conditions can have this symptom, including tuberculosis, bronchitis, and lung cancer. Sometimes coughing up blood originates in the digestive tract instead of the lungs, but any time a patient coughs up blood it should be reported to a doctor so the appropriate medical testing can be ordered.
Pulmonary disease, which affects the lungs, frequently leads to back pain when breathing. Other symptoms may include shortness of breath, coughing, and chest pain. Swelling of the lung tissue, often leading to pain or discomfort, is possible in the patient with pulmonary disease. Other conditions such as asthma or emphysema may also be present. Pulmonary disease can worsen over time, so a prompt diagnosis is essential in order to try to avoid potential complications.
Even though most instances of back pain when breathing are not life threatening, many serious medical conditions involve this symptom. For this reason, a doctor should always be consulted when any of these symptoms are present just to be certain. For instance, tumors in the lungs do not generally cause pain, but in some situations the tumor will press against surrounding tissue and nerves, potentially leading to pain. Early diagnosis in this situation could save the life of the patient.