An estimated eight out of 10 Americans will experience back pain at some point in their lives, according to MedlinePlus. Your back is highly vulnerable to injury because it’s responsible for bending, twisting, lifting and more. Back pain that lasts longer... Read more
An estimated eight out of 10 Americans will experience back pain at some point in their lives, according to MedlinePlus. Your back is highly vulnerable to injury because it’s responsible for bending, twisting, lifting and more. Back pain that lasts longer than three months is considered chronic back pain.
Shortness of breath is 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 can indicate a more serious medical condition.
If you have engaged in an intense exercise session, you may experience back pain and shortness of breath due to the 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 bodyweight places stress on your spine and can impact your airway, causing you to experience shortness of breath with even moderate physical activity.
Back pain and shortness of breath can also indicate a severe medical condition. Examples include:
- coronary artery disease
- dissection of the aorta
- heart attack
These symptoms can also indicate some cancer types, including lung cancer and multiple myeloma.
Conditions that cause deformity of the spine, such as scoliosis and kyphosis, can cause back pain and shortness of breath if left untreated.
Seek immediate medical attention if you suspect your back pain and shortness of breath are related to a heart attack. Symptoms of heart attck include:
- chest pain
- loss of consciousness
- severe headache
- unexplained sweating
While heart attacks can have the classic symptoms of crushing chest pain, they can also have subtler 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.
This information is a summary. Always seek medical attention if you’re concerned that you may be experiencing a medical emergency.
Because shortness of breath can induce loss of consciousness and anxiety, your doctor will likely address this symptom first. Immediate treatment includes medications that reduce airway spasms and/or inflammation. If a heart-related condition is causing your shortness of breath, your physician may prescribe diuretics to reduce the amount of fluid in your body and heart medications that can improve the way your heart works. You may need to have oxygen temporarily delivered through a thin plastic tube in your nose.
If your back pain is due to injury, a physician will evaluate the seriousness of your injury. Most back pain can go away with rest, physical therapy, and other home care measures. However, your doctor may recommend surgery if your back pain doesn’t subside to a manageable level within six months to a year of conservative treatments. This is true for kyphosis as well.
Special back bracing may be used to treat moderate scoliosis curvature.
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.
Maintaining a healthy weight and lifestyle can help prevent back pain and shortness of breath. This 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.
Smoking can contribute to back pain and shortness of breath. Refrain from smoking or take steps to quit if you currently smoke.