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"I feel tightness in right upper back. What could it be?"

ZocdocAnswersI feel tightness in right upper back. What could it be?


Hi, I am a 23 year old 5'10 130lb female. I am suffering from a tightness in my upper, mid, more right back. I am thinking its either associated with my heart or asthma. Heart problems do run in my family and I do have asthma but its very mild. I eat healthy and exercise regularly. I do take plenty of vitamins. I also should say I used to suffer bulimia now its pretty mild. But if ever find myself vomiting or trying to the tightness seems worse. Also its usually at its worse when I wake up in the morning. If anyone has any information or advice on what to do that would be great, its a very annoying tightness and I have no idea what it is!! Im worried it could be something serious. Thank you


It sounds like this sensation you are experiencing is quite bothersome and certainly giving you some cause for concern about more serious problems. In this kind of situation, the best place to start is with your primary care physician. From the symptoms you are describing--particularly the exacerbation of the sensation with vomiting--it sounds much more like a musculoskeletal problem than anything to do with your heart or lungs. Serious heart and lung disease would be quite uncommon in someone of your age, even with a family history of heart disease, but muscle strain could definitely give you the symptoms you describe and would be much more common. In addition, vomiting or trying to induce vomiting could make these kinds of muscle strains worse. Your primary care physician can ask you some additional questions about your specific symptoms and then do a physical exam to try and look for any additional clues about what might be causing this. Basic laboratory testing and peak flow evaluation can also help make sure that your asthma is under good control and ensure that you don't have any dangerous electrolyte abnormalities which can be found in patients with bulimia. In addition, it will be important for you to maintain a relationship with a primary care physician you trust because if you are still being driven to vomit because of an eating disorder, even if not as often as you used to, this is definitely not a good thing for your long-term health.

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