Your back is highly vulnerable to injury because it’s responsible for bending, twisting, and lifting. Back pain that lasts longer than three months is considered chronic back pain. Shortness of breath includes any difficulty breathing. You may feel as if... Read more
Your back is highly vulnerable to injury because it’s responsible for bending, twisting, and lifting. Back pain that lasts longer than three months is considered chronic back pain.
Shortness of breath includes any difficulty breathing. You may feel as if you can’t catch your breath, are breathing very fast, or have just engaged in intense physical activity. If you can’t relate the shortness of breath to anxiety or physical exertion, the symptom may indicate a serious medical condition.
What causes back pain and shortness of breath?
If you have engaged in an intense exercise session, you may experience back pain and shortness of breath due to strain on your back and heart.
Being morbidly obese, which means having a body mass index (BMI) greater than 40, can contribute to back pain and shortness of breath. Excess body weight places stress on your spine and your heart, and can impact your airway. It can cause you to experience shortness of breath with even moderate physical activity.
Back pain and shortness of breath may also indicate a serious medical condition. Examples include:
When to seek medical help
Seek immediate medical attention if you suspect your back pain and shortness of breath are related to a heart attack. The primary symptoms of heart attack are:
- chest pain with associated pain in the neck or arms (particularly the left arm)
- unexplained sweating
While heart attacks may have the classic symptoms of crushing chest pain, they can also have less severe symptoms, including back pain and shortness of breath. This is especially true for women. When in doubt, seek immediate medical attention to rule out a possible cardiac event.
Make an appointment with your doctor if your symptoms don’t improve with rest.
How are back pain and shortness of breath treated?
Because shortness of breath can cause loss of consciousness and anxiety, your doctor will likely address this symptom first. Immediate treatment may include medications that reduce airway spasms or inflammation. If a heart-related condition is causing your shortness of breath, your physician may prescribe diuretics. These reduce the amount of fluid in your body. They might also prescribe heart medications. You may need to have oxygen temporarily delivered through a thin plastic tube in your nose or through a face mask.
If your back pain is due to injury, a physician will evaluate the seriousness of your injury. Most back pain goes away with rest, physical therapy, and other home care measures. However, your doctor may recommend surgery if you are found to have certain conditions such as a fracture, a ruptured disc, or a pinched nerve.
Special back bracing may be used to treat some fractures and cases of scoliosis.
Home remedies for back pain and shortness of breath
Resting your back for one to two days and following your doctor’s recommendations can help your back pain improve. While you’ll want to rest your back, doing so for more than two days can lead to stiffness, which can work against the healing process.
Taking an over-the-counter pain reliever such as ibuprofen can help reduce pain.
If you have undergone surgery related to your symptoms, follow your doctor’s instructions regarding at-home care.
Preventing back pain and shortness of breath
You may be able to prevent back pain and shortness of breath by doing the following:
- Maintain a healthy weight and lifestyle, which includes eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly.
- If you’re overweight and have difficulty exercising, smaller increments of exercise can build stamina and promote lung health.
- Refrain from smoking or take steps to quit if you currently smoke.