How Do Doctors Diagnose The Cause Of Upper Back And Chest Pain
Your doctor may look for heart problems first. Diagnostic tests they may order include:
- chest X-rays to look at the structures in your chest
- ECG to look at your hearts rhythm
- cardiac ultrasound to view your heart as it beats
- angiogram to look at the blood flow in your heart
- cardiac catheterization to look for any blockages in your blood vessels
- stress test to see how your heart functions when stressed
- blood tests to check for specific enzymes that may indicate heart damage
If the tests dont indicate a heart condition or if you have any other symptoms, your doctor will look for other possible causes. Other tests they may order include:
When Should I Call Triple Zero And Ask For An Ambulance
If you have any of the symptoms below, call triple zero immediately and ask for an ambulance. If calling triple zero does not work on your mobile phone, try calling 112.
- your chest pain is severe, or worsening, or has lasted longer than 10 minutes
- your chest pain feels heavy, crushing or tight
- you have other symptoms, such as breathlessness, nausea, dizziness or a cold sweat
- you also feel the pain in your jaw or down your left arm
Is Your Chest Pain A Sign Of A Heart Attack Or Something Else
Chest pain is frightening and must be taken seriously. So know this: If you are having severe discomfort in the chestespecially if the chest pain is radiating to your neck, jaw or armsand its accompanied by shortness of breath, dizziness and sweating, call 911 immediately. Some people may not have chest pain at all during a heart attack, but they may have the other symptoms listed. In that case, its still best to call 911.
But sometimes chest pain isnt a heart attack. It might have a different cardiac cause or be totally unrelated to your heart. Here are three clues that its not a heart attack:
If you are experiencing chest pain like this, call your doctor to make an appointment.
Chest pain that isnt a heart attack can be heart-related or not .
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What Upper Back And Chest Pain Feel Like
Infographic:Upper Back Pain
Upper back and chest pain may begin gradually and worsen over a long period of time, or it can start suddenly without explanation or after an injury. This pain is typically felt more on one side of the spine, but it can be felt on both sides. People with upper back and chest pain usually have one or more of the following symptoms:
- Dull achiness that is felt in the upper back and chest, perhaps just on one side, and/or possibly extending into the shoulder area
- Burning, sharp, or electric-like pain that may worsen with movement, possibly radiating pain along a rib from the upper back to the chest area
- Stiffness in the shoulder, chest, and/or upper back due to pain or muscle tightness, which can reduce the ability to perform basic tasks, such as getting dressed or driving
- Pressure or fullness in the chest rather than pain1
- Increased pain while breathing or trouble taking full breaths
- Trigger points in the upper back and/or chest that feel tender, sore, or tight, and can flare up and spread pain to nearby areas when touched
- Pins-and-needles tingling or numbness that might be felt along the rib or across a bigger area, possibly more in the chest or back
- Pain that spreads into the neck and/or arm, which can range from dull to sharp, and could be accompanied by tingling, numbness, and/or weakness
- Rib pain that travels along the rib or possibly between ribs
Do People With Noncardiac Chest Pain Have Other Symptoms
People with noncardiac chest pain commonly have other symptoms of GERD, including heartburn and acid reflux. They also report a higher incidence of other gastrointestinal complaints, including sore throat, regurgitation and difficulty swallowing. Up to 80% of those with functional noncardiac chest pain report other functional GI disorders with no obvious explanation, especially IBS and functional abdominal bloating .
For some people, noncardiac chest pain is associated with psychological symptoms, such as stress, anxiety and depression. This is true even when the cause is determined to be something else. In fact, there is a significant crossover between psychological symptoms and symptoms of esophageal hypersensitivity, as well as heartburn. Psychological stress can trigger gastrointestinal symptoms, and vice versa. Doctors have speculated that this is due to a disorder of the gut-brain connection.
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Pain Intensifies When You Move
You had a recent fall, but you didnt think your back would hurt this much! If you had a traumatic injury, like a heavy object lands on your back or you slip on the ice and fall with your back striking the edge of a step, you can break a vertebral bone or a rib, notes Dr. Tien. The pain can be moderate to severe, but it will get worse when you move. Talk to your doctor, especially after any bad injury.
What Causes Back Pain Pain Radiating Over Chest Into Back
Back pain causes are as diverse as they are common. The most common are muscular, skeletal, and disc problems. Despite their seemingly simple nature, these conditions can be very painful. Some of the most common cause of back pain is improper posture. You should always strive to sit with your shoulders over your hips. This helps to keep your spine in the proper alignment. When you deviate from this position, you put extra pressure on your back muscles, which may lead to muscle spasms and even a spinal stenosis.
Some of the most common back pain causes are as described above: a dull ache in the back that can radiate to the buttocks or legs. Although not all cases of back pain are as serious, there are a variety of symptoms that can be caused by back issues. A doctor can determine the exact cause of your back pain by asking about your symptoms and performing a physical exam. Sometimes an x-ray will be taken to check whether your bones are aligned properly and to rule out any broken bones. Unfortunately, x-rays cant detect if your disks and nerves have been damaged.
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Symptoms Can Be Different For Men And Women
Men and women experience heart attack symptoms in slightly different ways. The main difference is how pain radiates.
- For men: Pain will spread to the left shoulder, down the left arm or up to the chin.
- For women: Pain can be much more subtle. It may travel to the left or right arm, up to the chin, shoulder blades and upper back or to abdomen . Women are also more likely to experience these accompanying symptoms: shortness of breath, nausea, vomiting and back or jaw pain. Read an in-depth overview of heart attack symptoms for women here.
Some heart attacks are sudden and intense, but most start slowly with mild pain and discomfort. Surviving a heart attack depends upon how well you recognize and react to these symptoms. Remember that “time is muscle.” The sooner you receive medical care, the sooner heart muscle can be saved.
Chest Pain That Radiates To The Back
at night, I want to ask 10 days ago my mother experienced chest pain until the pain penetrated her back. Then I consulted a cardiologist and did an EKG examination, the echo results were normal, there were no abnormalities and a blood test was also carried out where the results were negative for troponin T. But yesterday, safely after returning home from the hospital, my mother experienced chest pain again. Is it possible that my mother has a heart attack?
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What Is Noncardiac Chest Pain
Noncardiac chest pain is defined as recurring pain in your chest typically, behind your breast bone and near your heart that is not related to your heart. In most people, noncardiac chest pain is actually related to a problem with their esophagus, most often gastroesophageal reflux disease . Stress, anxiety and depression can also manifest as chronic chest pain. Other conditions can cause short-term, acute chest pain, including lung problems and musculoskeletal injuries. But noncardiac chest pain is diagnosed as a chronic condition.
Esophageal Conditions Causing Burning Chest And Back Pain:
GERD: There are also certain esophageal conditions which may cause burning chest and back pain. GERD is the primary disorder of the esophagus which causes burning chest and back pain. GERD is caused when the acid produced in the stomach reflux back into the esophagus causing inflammation of the lining of the esophagus. Esophageal spasm is yet another condition which causes burning pain in the chest and back.
- low or undetectable heart beat
- blue or pale tingling of knees, hands and lips
- chest pain and breathlessness, nausea, sweating or coughing up blood
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Severe Chest Pain Radiating To The Back
A 55 year old man presented to the emergency department with a two hour history of sudden onset chest pain radiating to his back. His past medical problems included hypertension, and he was a smoker.
Although initial observations were normal, within a few minutes he became drowsy, agitated, and started developing weakness of his left arm. The pulses in his left arm were absent.
All initial blood investigations, including cardiac enzymes, were within normal limits, with a haemoglobin concentration of 139 g/l. Twelve lead electrocardiography and chest radiography performed on admission were normal. Tests for cardiac enzymes were subsequently repeated, and results remained within normal limits.
An urgent computed tomogram of the chest and abdomen was performed .
Coronal reformat of computed tomogram of the chest at the level of aortic arch
Transverse computed tomogram of the abdomen at the level of L1 vertebrae
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Whats The Difference Between Radiating Pain And Referred Pain
Radiating pain isnt the same as referred pain. With radiating pain, the pain travels from one part of the body to another. The pain literally moves through the body.
With referred pain, the source of pain doesnt move or get larger. The pain is simply felt in areas other than the source.
An example is jaw pain during a heart attack. A heart attack doesnt involve the jaw, but the pain can be felt there.
Pain can radiate from and to many parts of the body. The pain may come and go, depending on the cause.
If you experience radiating pain, pay attention to how it spreads. This can help your doctor figure out whats going on and whats causing the pain.
Below are some of the most common causes of radiating pain by body region.
Pain that travels down either leg may be caused by:
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Understanding Upper Back And Chest Pain
Upper back pain and chest pain occurring together can be especially concerning because vital organs, such as the heart, may potentially be involved. An understanding of the symptoms, underlying mechanism, and causes of this type of pain can help differentiate between a commonly occurring condition and a medical emergency.
This article reviews the common descriptions for how upper back and chest pain may feel, various ways it can develop, and the importance of getting an accurate diagnosis.
Preventing Chest And Back Pain
It is not always possible to prevent chest and back pain.
However, for many conditions, you can be proactive about your health to avoid developing symptoms.
- Eat a diet that is high in fiber, fruits, vegetables, and low in saturated fat and cholesterol.
- Get adequate amounts of physical activity or exercise, and stretch beforehand to avoid pulled muscles or injury.
- Take care of your mental health and manage stress.
- Reduce alcohol intake.
- Do not skip routine well visits and appointments to manage conditions.
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Time = Heart Muscle So Don’t Wait To Get Help
If you think you’re having a heart attack, Time is of the essence: The longer a coronary artery is 100 percent blocked, the more heart damage will occur.
“Never drive yourself or have someone drive you to the hospital,” says Schaer. “The emergency medical technicians who respond to the 911 call are best equipped to care for heart attack patients, monitor them for any abnormal heart rhythms that can develop and rapidly transport them to the nearest hospital capable of opening the artery with angioplasty.”
If you’re concerned about chest pain, or if persistent chest pain is interfering with your quality of life, talk to your doctor. He or she can run tests to pinpoint the source of your pain, help you get relief and potentially prevent more serious health problems down the road.
Diagnosing Chest And Back Pain
Do not try to self-diagnose chest and back pain.
While many causes are common and dont lead to serious consequences if left untreated, it is not always easy to tell.
See your doctor or healthcare provider for an accurate diagnosis and to avoid severe complications.
Your doctor will diagnose chest and back pain in one or more of the following ways:
- Take your medical history and consider relevant related conditions
- Perform a physical examination
- Order x-ray, CT scan, or other diagnostic imaging Order blood workOrder an electrocardiogram
In many cases, a physical exam, history, and electrocardiogram are the only tests that are needed, but your healthcare provider will determine the appropriate test for your symptoms.
After the results of the examination and tests, your provider will be able to give you a diagnosis and a better idea of how to manage your chest and back pain.
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How Is Angina Treated
Lifestyle When angina is caused by coronary artery disease, treatment often involves changes in your lifestyle. You may need to:
- Get more exercise
- Lower your blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar
Medicine Nitroglycerine is the most common medicine for treating angina It reduces the workload on the heart by enlarging the coronary blood vessels. This increases blood flow to the heart and lowers blood pressure slightly. Nitroglycerine comes in the form of pills and spray. It is also available in long acting forms by pill, paste and patches.
If your doctor has prescribed nitroglycerine, you should understand how to take the medication:
Surgery Angina caused by blocked arteries can be treated with two types of procedures.
The first procedure is called balloon angioplasty. Under local anesthesia, a tiny tube called a catheter is placed in an artery in the leg or arm. It is guided up to the coronary artery where a small balloon on the tip of the tube is inflated. This pushes the blockage against the sides of the artery wall and then the balloon is deflated and the tube is removed. This expands the artery enough to let the blood flow normally. Most people have a stent inserted as part of this procedure to help keep the artery open. With a stent, the chance of having the artery blocked again is reduced. This procedure usually requires a short stay in the hospital.
Pain During Or After Eating
Chest and back pain that occurs during or after eating may be a symptom of one of the following digestive conditions:
- gallbladder issues
If a person develops any signs or symptoms of one of the above conditions, they should make an appointment with their doctor.
The following conditions can also cause pain in the chest and back.
A panic attack is a sudden episode of overwhelming or debilitating fear and anxiety. This can lead to physical symptoms such as:
The symptoms of a panic attack come on suddenly and usually reach their peak within 10 minutes. They rarely last for longer than an hour.
Shingles is a viral infection that causes a painful rash to develop on the body.
Often, a person who is about to develop shingles will feel a band of burning or tingling pain beneath the skin before the rash appears. The pain and subsequent rash most commonly occur on the chest and abdomen on one side of the body.
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Why Does Pain In The Esophagus Feel Like Heart Pain
Inside your chest cavity , your esophagus actually runs right alongside the heart. The same sensory nerves send pain signals from both organs to your brain. It can be difficult to distinguish between the two based on symptoms alone. If you have other symptoms of esophageal reflux, such as stomach fluid coming back up through your esophagus, that can be a clue. Other esophageal disorders, such as muscle spasms or visceral hypersensitivity, might be trickier to identify.