Upper back chest pain

It may seem strange to imagine that spinal nerve damage in the upper back could cause chest pain.

However, 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 a spinal 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

Before all else, life-threatening causes of chest pain must be ruled out before considering other causes. You should consult a physician immediately to address any chest pain; it’s important to be sure that chest pain is not due to cardiac or lung conditions.

If a physician has ruled out these serious causes of chest pain, other causes may be explored.

Common causes of upper back pain that do not involve the spine include:

  • Heart attack
  • Pneumonia and pleuritis
  • High blood pressure
  • Fibromyalgia (widespread muscle pain and tenderness) or other chronic pain syndromes
  • Problems with the esophagus, like acid reflux or heartburn
  • Ribs that are bruised or broken due to trauma
  • ostochondritis (an inflammation of the cartilage that connects a rib to the breastbone)

Following a physical examination, a discussion of specific symptoms and an MRI or CT scan, your physician may diagnose a condition involving the upper back as the cause of chest pain. The diagnosis may be compressed spinal nerves in the neck or upper back regions.

Your physician should recommend a course of nonsurgical treatment, which may include heat therapy, prescription or over-the-counter pain medication, steroid injections or upper back pain exercises, among others. In most cases, you may be able to find relief using nonsurgical treatment options.

Treatment for chest pain due to spinal conditions

If you’ve been diagnosed with a spine condition and your chest pain does not respond to conservative treatments, your physician may recommend surgery.

Laser Spine Institute specializes in minimally invasive spine surgery that is a safer and effective alternative to traditional open back surgery.^ Our decompression and stabilization procedures are performed on an outpatient basis and typically require a shorter recovery period^ than traditional open spine surgery.

To find out if you’re a candidate for one of our minimally invasive procedures, contact us today. We can provide a no-cost MRI review* and help you find the treatment options available to you.