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Back Pain and Shortness of Breath- What Are The Causes?

If you experience back pain and shortness of breath, you need to consult a doctor. It can happen due to various causes. Only a medical practitioner can diagnose what is causing it. Your back is responsible for lifting, bending, and twisting. Whether you are sitting or standing, your back plays an important role in your daily movements. Therefore, it is extremely vulnerable to injuries. If the back pain lasts for more than three months, it is a chronic back pain. Shortness of breath is actually difficulty in breathing. If it is not due to any physical exertion or anxiety, it can be a symptom of a serious medical condition.

Prevention: Back Pain and Shortness of Breath

You should first know how to prevent back pain and shortness of breath before studying about its causes and treatment. Let’s take a look at the preventive measures:

  • Have a healthy lifestyle. Eat nutritious food, sleep for 8 hours.
  • Exercise regularly for at least fifteen minutes.
  • Maintain a healthy body weight.
  • Quit smoking.

Causes – Back Pain and Shortness of Breath

Both back pain and shortness of breath can interfere with your daily life. Let’s take a look at the things that can result in back pain and shortness of breath:

1. Obesity

If you have a BMI (body mass index) of 30 or more, you are obese. It is the rough calculation of the weight of a person in relation to his or her height. Obesity can result in back pain and shortness of breath.

2. Pneumonia

The infection of one or both lungs is known as pneumonia. It can be either a bacterial, viral or fungal infection. It results in inflammation of the air sacs in the lungs. The air sacs, known as alveoli get filled with pus or fluid which makes it difficult for a person to breathe.

3. Heart Attack

Heart attacks, also known as myocardial infarctions are extremely common in the United States. When a heart attack occurs, the blood supply that nourishes heart with oxygen normally is cut off. There are various warning signs of a heart attack such as shortness of breath, chest pain, fatigue, upper body pain, nausea, and sweating.

4. Coronary Heart Disease

Coronary heart disease (CAD) is one of the most common heart diseases. It results in weakened blood flow in the arteries which supply blood to your heart. Shortness of breath is a common symptom of coronary heart disease. If CAD is not controlled in time, it can result in a heart attack.

5. Scoliosis

The spine curves abnormally when a person has scoliosis. It can curve from side to side. It can also be in a “S” or “C” shape. There is no identifiable cause in most cases of scoliosis. Cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, birth defects or spinal injuries can result in this condition. Back pain is a common symptom of scoliosis.

6. Kyphosis

Kyphosis is also called hunchback or round back. People with kyphosis have an excessive curvature in the upper back region of the spine. In normal people, the upper region of the spine has a slight natural curve. You can see a visible hump on the upper back in people with kyphosis. It causes a lot of pressure on the spine. This results in severe back pain. It also causes shortness of breath as a lot of pressure falls on the lungs.

Poor posture, arthritis, muscle weakness, osteoporosis, spinal injury, and scoliosis can result in kyphosis. It is important to seek treatment for kyphosis if you experience severe back pain, breathing difficulties, and fatigue.

7. Lung Cancer

Back pain and shortness of breath can be an indication of lung cancer. It starts in the lungs. The early symptoms are cold, lingering cough, coughing up blood or phlegm, chest pain, shortness of breath, wheezing, weakness, loss of appetite, weight loss. When cancer spreads, additional symptoms such as back pain, headache, balance issues, and dizziness can occur.

8. Multiple Myeloma

Multiple Myeloma is a kind of cancer that affect the plasma cells. Plasma cells are white blood cells found in the bone marrow. These cells make antibodies in the bone marrow. Antibodies are proteins which help the body fight off infections and diseases. When there is an abnormal growth of plasma cells, it results in multiple myeloma. There are various symptoms of multiple myeloma, including back pain and shortness of breath. The main symptoms are increase in calcium levels, renal failure, anemia, and bone damage. Bone injuries can result in severe back pain, whereas anemia can cause shortness of breath.

9. Dissection of the aorta

One of the lesser known causes of back pain and shortness of breath is the dissection of the aorta. Blood leaks out of the arterial lumen when there is an aortic dissection. Pain in the upper back region and chest pain are the most common symptoms of aortic dissection. Other symptoms are shortness of breath, sweating, fainting, weakness, and dizziness.

10. Polio

Polio is a disease that is caused by Poliovirus. It attacks the nervous system. Children who are below five years of age are more prone to this disease than any other age group. In 1957, the Polio vaccine was made available to control the contagious disease from spreading.

The signs of non-paralytic polio are fever, headache, sore throat, fatigue, and vomiting. The signs of paralytic polio are severe back pain, muscle pain, loss of reflexes, sudden paralysis, and deformed limbs. Symptoms of post-polio syndrome are extreme muscle pain, joint weakness, fatigue, shortness of breath, sleep apnea and depression.

11. Paroxysmal Nocturnal Hemoglobinuria (PNH)

PNH is a disorder in which red blood cells break down sooner than normal. The early destruction of red blood cells can result in various complications such as discoloration of urine, stroke, and leukemia. The most common symptom of PNH is discoloration of urine. Other signs of PNH are back pain, shortness of breath, headache, abdominal pain, and getting bruised easily.

If you experience back pain and shortness of breath, you should not ignore it. They can be the symptoms of a serious medical condition that needs treatment. You need immediate medical attention if you think that your breathing difficulty and back pain are related to heart attack.

Although crushing chest pain is the most common symptom of a heart attack, you can also experience other symptoms such as back pain and difficulty in breathing.

Treatment- Back Pain and Shortness of Breath

Shortness of breath can cause anxiety and loss of consciousness. Therefore, your doctor will first address this issue. Treatment for shortness of breath includes medications that effectively reduce inflammation and airway spasms. Your doctor may prescribe diuretics if your shortness of breath is related to a heart condition. Diuretics decrease the amount of fluid present in your body. He can also prescribe some heart medications.

If you are having back pain due to an injury, your doctor will first see the seriousness of the injury. In most cases, back pain fades away within a few days. You just need to take rest, medication, and home remedies to get well. However, if you have a pinched nerve, ruptured disc or a fracture, your doctor can recommend surgery. Doctors use special back bracing for the treatment of scoliosis and some fractures.

You can check out the following home remedies for getting relief from back pain and shortness of breath:

  • Rest your back for two days. Don’t do it for more than two days as it can result in stiffness of muscles.
  • You can take a pain reliever to get relief from pain. Ibuprofen is an effective over-the-counter painkiller.
  • You can use an ice pack or heating pad to get relief from back pain.
  • Sleep properly. Make sure that you are sleeping in the right position.

The next time you experience back pain and shortness of breath, do not ignore it. If it lasts for more than two days, visit a doctor.