Before all else, be certain that chest pain is not of cardiac or lung origin. Only if a physician has ruled out these serious causes of chest pain should other causes be sought. It may seem strange to imagine that spinal nerve damage in the upper back could cause chest pain. However, consider that the nerves that enter and exit the spinal cord carry nerve impulses to all areas of the body. Therefore, an injury to a joint or an intervertebral disc in the upper back could compress the nerves that control sensation from the chest, kidneys, lungs and rib cage.
Possible causes of chest pain
Denial that chest pain is of cardiac origin does not prove that pain experienced is not cardiac. Life-threatening causes of chest pain must be absolutely ruled out before considering other causes. Consult a physician for all chest pain.
Common upper back pain causes that do not involve the spine include:
- Heart attack
- Pneumonia and pleuritis
- High blood pressure
- Fibromyalgia or other chronic pain syndromes
- Problems with the esophagus, like acid reflux or heartburn
- Ribs that are bruised or broken due to trauma
Following a physical examination, a discussion of specific symptoms and an MRI or CT scan, a physician may diagnose a condition involving the upper back as the cause of chest pain. The diagnosis may be stated as compressed spinal nerves in the neck or upper back regions. The physician should recommend a conservative course of non-invasive treatment, which may include heat therapy, prescription or over-the-counter pain medication, periodic steroid injections or upper back pain exercises. While most people will find relief from spine pain with these modalities, some will not.
Treatment for chest pain due to spinal conditions
For these individuals, a surgical remedy may be suggested. Laser Spine Institute specializes in minimally invasive spine procedures as an alternative to traditional open back surgery. Additionally, our innovative surgical techniques are performed on an outpatient basis and pose less risk and typically require a shorter recovery period than traditional open spine surgeries. For more information about our back pain treatment procedures, or for a free review of your MRI or CT scan, contact us today.