Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors

"I have mild pain in my left upper back and tissue of my lower jaw. Is it nerve-related or is it a heart problem? "

ZocdocAnswersI have mild pain in my left upper back and tissue of my lower jaw. Is it nerve-related or is it a heart problem?


Dear Doctor, The pain is also present in the left shoulder. The pain is on and off, not lasting more than a few seconds and mild enough to not need a pain killer. I don't feel as if one leads to the other. I've also observed that my left upper back and shoulder muscles are almost always involuntarily contracted. I'm 31/female/non-smoker/not overweight though I'm not as active as I should be. I had a complete physical, EKG,chest X-ray done about 2.5 months ago all of which were normal. My physician said that I had spastic back muscles and hence the pain. Many thanks.


These symptoms are understandably concerning. A thorough medical history and physical exam is necessary to provide an accurate diagnosis. If you have been unable to receive any relief from your current medical care, I encourage you to schedule an appointment with a new primary care doctor. The most common cause of upper back pain is musculoskeletal injury. If you have any prior trauma to this area, it is possible there is a small fracture causing pain. Muscle spasms in this area can cause intermittent pain. The abnormal appearance of your back muscles may indicate nerve damage. It is also possible you are compensating for an injury elsewhere, thus causing pain in your back. You will need to see a primary care physician to explore these possibilities. I cannot tell from your question the details of your jaw pain. It is possible you are experiencing inflammation in the temperomandibular joint, which connects your jaw to your skull. Tooth infections or other issues can cause jaw pain. Blockages in your heart's arteries can cause pain that radiates to the jaw or back. Additionally, a tear in your aorta can cause pain radiating to your back. I encourage you to schedule a primary care appointment and raise these concerns.

Zocdoc Answers is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor (in the United States) 911 immediately. Always seek the advice of your doctor before starting or changing treatment. Medical professionals who provide responses to health-related questions are intended third party beneficiaries with certain rights under Zocdoc’s Terms of Service.