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Why Does My Back Hurt When Breathing?

Apr 20, 2022

Why Does My Back Hurt When Breathing?

Did you know that back pain is one of the most common reasons for visiting the doctor? Back pain can happen for several reasons, from to poor posture to common back injuries from an accident . In fact, back pain sends millions of people to the doctor each year for treatment. When you visit back pain specialists near you, it is important to let your doctor know about other pain and discomfort you might be feeling. You may be wondering, “Why does my back hurt when I breathe?” Let your doctor know when you notice the pain, like if it gets worse while breathing. This will help your doctor determine an accurate diagnosis and appropriate plan for treatment. Here are common causes of back pain while breathing and how a back pain specialist can help you.

Causes of Back Pain When Breathing

There are many reasons why you might experience pain when breathing. When you breathe in and out, your chest expands and contracts, which engages the bones and muscles in your back. Musculoskeletal conditions and injuries can lead to back pain when you breathe.  Here are five examples of what may cause back pain when breathing.

Strained Muscle

A strained muscle in your back can lead to sudden pain when breathing, moving, and twisting. You can strain a muscle from a sudden injury or from repetitive use. One example of a strained muscle in your back is when you bend and lift something heavy improperly. This can cause you to feel a sudden pain in your back, muscle spasms, and trouble bending over. It is also possible to experience a reduced range of motion because the pain may keep you from twisting or turning. A strained muscle in the back typically gets better by itself with rest, though it is important to review your symptoms with your doctor to rule out a more serious injury.

Bruised or Broken Rib

A bruised or broken rib can occur due to a sudden fall, a blow to the chest, or severe coughing. The most common sign of a bruised or broken rib includes strong pain around your chest and back, especially when you breathe in. A bruised or broken rib can also lead to tenderness in the area, and you may notice swelling and discoloration on the skin. If you have a bruised or broken rib, it can make simple movements like inhaling, laughing, or sneezing painful. Twisting or bending your trunk can also increase pain and discomfort with a bruised or broken rib. In order to determine whether you have a bruised rib or a broken rib, your doctor will typically request an X-ray or CT scan to confirm the diagnosis.

Herniated Disc

The spine is made up of vertebrae stacked one on top of the other and separated by spinal discs. These spinal discs provide cushion, support, and shock absorption for the spine. Each spinal disc has a tough outer shell that protects a jelly-like inner nucleus. A herniated disc occurs when the tough outer shell tears or cracks, allowing the center to spill out. This can put pressure on nearby nerves, causing pain, numbness, and other symptoms. Disk herniation may cause a tingling or burning sensation that extends into your arms or legs. You may also experience an increase in back pain when you breathe.

Fractured Vertebra

A traumatic injury to your back can lead to a fractured vertebra. A fracture is another term for a broken bone. When one of the bones in your spine, known as a vertebra, cracks and become damaged or injured, it can cause painful symptoms. Pain and discomfort from a fractured vertebra typically get worse with movement. You may experience tingling, numbness, and weakness from a fractured vertebra. Depending on where the fractured vertebra occurred in the spine, you may also experience other symptoms like bladder dysfunction. If you think you may have suffered a serious injury to the spine like a fractured vertebra, talk to your doctor right away.


As our bodies develop, we experience growth spurts in childhood and adolescence. During one of these growth spurts, your spine may develop an abnormal side-to-side curvature known as scoliosis. People with scoliosis may experience back pain and discomfort, especially while breathing and with other movements. Scoliosis can cause your back to hurt when breathing because the abnormal curvature of the spine may put pressure on the heart and lungs. Scoliosis can develop gradually, and the first signs may be that your shoulders or hips appear uneven.

Back pain while breathing can also be a symptom of other serious conditions that require immediate medical attention, including a heart attack, pulmonary embolism, or pneumonia. If you have trouble breathing, shortness of breath, loss of bladder control, fever, coughing up blood, or severe pain, seek medical attention immediately.

Diagnosing Back Pain

Visit your doctor for an accurate diagnosis of your back pain and other symptoms. Your doctor will likely perform a physical exam to assess the muscles, bones, ligaments, and tendons in your back. Talk to your doctor about what symptoms you have been experiencing, along with pain while breathing. Let your doctor know what movements or activities have made your pain worse and what, if anything, has brought your relief. Your doctor will want to know more about your medical history, which can help determine if you are at a higher risk for certain health conditions. When you visit a back pain specialist near you, they may also run diagnostic imaging tests like an X-ray, CT scan, or MRI. These types of diagnostic tools can provide your doctor with detailed images of the area where you are experiencing pain to help determine the root cause.

Acute Injuries and Back Pain Treatment

A sudden injury is also known as an acute injury. Common causes of an acute back injury include car accident injuries, sports injuries, and slip and fall injuries. In order to treat back pain with an acute injury, it will help to understand the root cause of your pain and other symptoms. Once you have a diagnosis for your injury, you can get started on a treatment plan to provide you with lasting pain relief. After an acute injury, you may need to stop normal physical activity for a few days while any swelling and inflammation go down. Resting after an injury will allow your body time to jumpstart its natural healing processes. Applying ice and heat to the affected area can also help reduce pain and discomfort associated with a sudden injury.

Treatment options for back pain and acute injuries include non-invasive options like chiropractic care and physical therapy as an alternate solution to surgery or medication. Back pain specialists will talk you through all your options for treatment and help you determine the best fit for you. A chiropractor for back pain while breathing can help reduce your pain through an all-natural approach to treatment. A chiropractor or physical therapist can also walk you through breathing and low impact exercises for back pain to help you manage your symptoms and recover from your injury.

Chronic Conditions and Back Pain Treatment

Many people live with back pain every day and avoid going to the doctor until the pain becomes unbearable. This can lead to chronic back pain and other health conditions that can negatively affect your health and well-being. When left untreated, back pain can turn into a chronic condition that lasts for weeks, months, or even years. Back pain specialists offer a wide range of treatments options to help address chronic conditions that cause back pain and other symptoms.

When you visit your doctor about chronic back pain, they will talk with you about how respiration and spinal control affect healthy functioning in your body. If you have chronic power back pain, then your doctor may talk to you about the effects of low back pain on breathing so you can get the relief you need. The good news is that chronic back pain does not have to stay that way! Back pain specialists can provide you with effective treatment solutions so that you don’t have to live with back pain every day.

Back Pain Specialists with AICA Orthopedics

At AICA Orthopedics, we have a team of back pain specialists near you to help you experience lasting relief from your back pain and discomfort while breathing. Our team of doctors works together to provide you with quality, comprehensive care. From chiropractors to physical therapists to orthopedic surgeons, our back pain specialists offer a variety of treatment approaches so you can find out the best solution for you. We offer personalized treatment plans that address your specific symptoms and goals for treatment. Our AICA Orthopedics locations offer diagnostic imaging in-house, so you can get the scans you need and meet with your doctor all in one convenient location. Learn more about how our back pain specialists at AICA Orthopedics can help you. Visit an AICA Orthopedics location near you and get started today with one of our back pain specialists.


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