What are the common causes of back pain when breathing?

Back pain when breathing can be a troublesome symptom with a number of potential causes. Most cases are related to tight muscles, although more serious health conditions, including heart problems, can have the same symptoms. As treatment starts with an accurate diagnosis, any type of pain when breathing should be reported to a doctor immediately. If symptoms develop suddenly, the patient should report to the nearest emergency department to rule out any life-threatening medical emergencies.

Muscle strains are common and are the main cause of back pain when breathing. A muscle usually becomes strained or stretched due to overuse. Once muscle strain has been accurately diagnosed, the patient will usually 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, which can cut off the blood supply to the rest of the body. This is a medical emergency, and delay in treatment is potentially life-threatening.

Hemoptysis, or coughing up blood from the lungs, can also cause back pain when breathing. Several conditions can have this symptom, such as tuberculosis, bronchitis, and lung cancer. Sometimes coughing up blood originates from the digestive tract and not the lungs, but whenever a patient coughs up blood, a doctor must be informed so that proper medical tests can be ordered.

Lung disease, which affects the lungs, often causes back pain when breathing. Other symptoms may include shortness of breath, coughing, and chest pain. Swelling of lung tissue, often causing pain or discomfort, is possible in the patient with lung disease. Other conditions, such as asthma or emphysema, may also be present. Lung disease can get worse over time, so prompt diagnosis is essential to try to avoid possible complications.

While most cases of back pain with 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 sure. For example, tumors in the lungs usually don't cause pain, but in some situations the tumor puts pressure on surrounding tissue and nerves, which can cause pain. Early diagnosis in this situation can save the patient's life.

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