ZocdocAnswersWhat causes back pain and trouble breathing?

Question

What causes back pain and trouble breathing?

For several months now I've been waking up with a nasty pain in my upper back, that's usually gone by the time I go to bed at night. The pain has been lasting longer and longer into the day, and now I've started having pain when I take a deep breath. Are these connected? Is it cancer?

Answer

Back pain can be a sign of something wrong with the back, lungs, or even in your abdomen. The best type of doctor to sort this out for you is a primary care physician such as a family doctor or internal medicine doctor. Upper back can occur sometime when you injury those muscles. This would have occurred during some physical activity, and you would probably remember it. Another possibility is that you have pleurisy. This is inflammation of the lining of the lung, something that can occur for no apparent reason, or after a viral infection. Symptoms are chest or back pain that worsens with a deep breath. Finally, an infected gall bladder, which usually causes right sided abdominal pain, can cause pain that radiates to the middle of your back. Classically the infected gall bladder also causes worsening of this pain with a deep breath. Cancer can cause almost any symptom, and thus cannot be ruled out until you see a doctor. I suggest that you schedule an appointment with your primary care physician. He or she can take a more detailed history of your back pain and perform a thorough physical exam. Your doctor may then decide to do an ultrasound of you abdomen or get a chest x-ray. I hope you feel better.

This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

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