sharp back pain when breathing

Exercise Daily – Sharp back pain when breathing can have multiple causes such as obesity, muscle tension, pneumonia, etc. Let’s take a look at all of them.

There are several possible reasons for back pain while breathing.

Injuries to your back’s bones or muscles may be to blame for the pain. Alternatively, it might be caused by a medical problem that affects one of your internal organs, such as your lungs or heart.

Sharp Back Pain When Breathing – 12 Possible Causes

sharp back pain when breathing

Throughout this post, we will look at 12 different causes of back discomfort when breathing.


Some of the probable reasons for upper back pain during breathing include muscular strain, infection, and significant underlying conditions such as lung disease.

Pleurisy is a condition that affects the tissue that covers the exterior of the lungs. Because of an infection, this tissue becomes inflamed, producing chest discomfort and breathing difficulties. A person may also have discomfort in the shoulder.

It is common for this condition to generate a strong pain in the chest that becomes worse when a person breathes in. Coughing, fever, fatigue, and a rapid heart rate are some of the other symptoms that might occur.

Pleurisy may improve on its own without therapy, or it may be relieved by relaxing and using pain medicines. 

However, in some situations, a person may require hospitalization for therapy in order to remove air or fluid from the area around the lungs. Medication can help in the reduction of inflammation or the elimination of infection.

Muscle Strain

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Even under normal circumstances, breathing requires the activity of a large number of distinct muscles. Muscle strain can be a cause of sharp back pain when breathing.

The wounded area may experience discomfort if one of those muscles is injured as a result of a fall, a vehicle accident, or another type of traumatic event. Overworking your body might result in muscular tension as well as other complications.

Muscle strain is one of the most prevalent reasons for back pain when breathing, and fortunately, it’s a rather simple issue to fix on your own. 

Exercising, applying heat or ice to the affected area, and using over-the-counter medicine are all common muscle strain treatments. In most cases, this sort of strain will begin to feel better within a few days and will be completely healed within several weeks.

Fractured vertebra

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The vertebrae are the bones that make up the spine, and they are the most important. A person’s vertebrae can be fractured in a major event, such as a vehicle accident or a fall from a great height. It can also occur as a result of a sports injury.

Osteoporosis is a disease that affects the bones of older persons. As a result, even a slight event, such as a fall from a standing position, puts them at greater risk of breaking a vertebra.

A fractured vertebra can cause sharp back pain when breathing.

When a vertebra in the top region of the spine is fractured, it can produce pain in the upper back when a person is trying to breathe properly. Whenever you move around, the discomfort usually gets worse.

The sort of therapy you receive will be determined by the severity of your fracture. People who suffer from back pain can benefit from the use of a back brace, physical therapy exercises, and a gradual restoration to normal movement.

Painkillers, on the other hand, might have some unpleasant side effects if taken over an extended period of time. If a week or two have passed and you are still not feeling better, it is time to consult with a health care expert for assistance.

Pulmonary embolism

A pulmonary embolism is a blood clot that forms in an artery in your lung. It can be fatal. The disorder is potentially life-threatening and necessitates the need for emergency medical treatment.

Shortness of breath is the most prevalent sign of a pulmonary embolism, followed by chest pain. Furthermore, it may result in extreme discomfort in the afflicted side’s chest, shoulder, back, and neck region.


Increased strain on the spine due to kyphosis can compress nerves and provide less space for your lungs to expand. Kyphosis may cause sharp back pain when breathing.

Beyond the fact that it increases the difficulty of breathing due to the increased pressure, extreme types of kyphosis can bend the spine to the point where the rib cage protrudes into the lungs and other internal organs, leading them to malfunction. 

When this restricted area is combined with the enlargement of the lungs, significant back pain is frequently experienced during breathing.


Carrying extra weight puts a burden on the muscles, bones, and ligaments of a person’s body over time, leading them to work harder to maintain their weight. 

If those muscles are already weaker, this will have a significant negative impact on the body. As a result, it’s not unusual to have back discomfort when taking a deep breath.

Losing weight is, without a doubt, the most effective line of action for obesity-related diseases. However, it is far easier said than done. Chiropractic treatment, on the other hand, can be of assistance.

Routine chiropractic adjustments can help restore range of motion and relieve pain for those who have difficulty exercising because of pain in their backs or other areas of their bodies.

The process of losing weight becomes less difficult when your body has been better trained to move the way it is intended to. Obesity may cause sharp back pain when breathing.

Panic Disorder

When someone suffers from panic disorder, they have panic episodes as well as worry over the chance of having another panic attack.

In addition to other symptoms, such as chest discomfort and trouble breathing, sudden dread or anxiety can occur alone or with other symptoms. Sweating, shivering, dizziness, and a beating heart are some of the other potential symptoms.

Therapy, medicine, and relaxation techniques are all used in the treatment of this condition. If a person feels as if they are going to have a panic attack, doing deep breathing techniques may be beneficial.

It is possible that a person will need to attempt several different therapies before they find one that is effective for them.

Herniated Disk

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A rubbery disk is located between each of your vertebrae and is responsible for stress absorption. This disk has a jelly-like interior with a firmer outer border on each of its four sides. 

Often referred to as a slipped disk, this condition happens when the disk ruptures and the jelly-like core breaks through the outer covering of the disk.

Symptoms such as pain, numbness, and weakness in one or more of your limbs might occur when the slipped disk pushes against a neighboring nerve or the spinal cord of your spine. Having a herniated disk in your lower back is the most typical location for it to occur.

A herniated disk may cause sharp back pain when breathing.


A lung infection called pneumonia can cause your lungs to become inflamed and to fill with fluid, making it difficult or uncomfortable to breathe. If you have pneumonia, you should see your doctor as soon as possible. 

There is a wide variety of symptoms from moderate to severe, depending on whether the infection is caused by a virus, bacterium, or fungus. Based on the specific source of your pneumonia, your doctor may recommend antibiotics, home care, or antifungal drugs.

It is never recommended that patients self-medicate or attempt to treat themselves at home while they are experiencing difficulty breathing. 

They should also refrain from engaging in physical activities that might aggravate the condition, such as massages or severe exercise unless expressly authorized by a medical practitioner.


Scoliosis is a condition in which the spine curves abnormally. It is most commonly diagnosed during childhood or adolescence, although it can also manifest itself later in life as a result of a genetic mutation.

It is possible that your lungs and other organs in your chest will get constricted in more severe examples of this curvature. Each breath may become rather unpleasant if there isn’t enough capacity to expand.

There are several factors that influence treatment, including your age and the severity of the curvature. Fortunately, chiropractic therapy has been shown to be quite beneficial in the vast majority of situations.

Scoliosis may cause sharp back pain when breathing.

Sleeping in an incorrect posture

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A person’s sleeping posture can sometimes place undue pressure on and misalign the thoracic spine area, causing them to experience severe pain and discomfort when they breathe when they are lying down. 

Depending on their sleeping posture, a person may place a large amount of pressure on their diaphragm, causing them to have greater difficulty breathing.

Only in rare cases may poor sleeping postures cause disorders such as a panic attacks or anxiety, both of which can express themselves as acute or low-grade chronic back discomfort. 

In these situations, doctors would frequently advise their patients on ways to enhance their sleep patterns. Moreover, they give suggestions on how to modify their posture when sleeping.

Heart Attack

Heart attack is not the most common cause of back pain when breathing. However, it is extremely essential to be aware of the signs and symptoms of a heart attack.

When it comes to heart attacks, the most common symptom for males is chest tightness; however, the symptoms for women might be quite different. Women are considerably more likely than males to have nausea/vomiting, excessive exhaustion, and, yes, back discomfort.

You should get familiar with the most frequent signs of a heart attack or cardiac arrest (for both men and women) if you are at risk of having one. This will help you recognize a heart attack when it occurs.

FAQs – Sharp Back Pain When Breathing

sharp back pain when breathing

When I take a deep breath my back hurts?

Back pain as you breathe might be caused by a variety of factors, including heartburn, injury, or a slipped disk. 

They may be the primary cause of your back discomfort. Moreover, they may intensify symptoms such as chest tightness and shortness of breath that you are already experiencing.

How come when I breathe I feel a sharp pain?

When you breathe, cough, or sneeze, you are likely to experience sharp pain. Breathing difficulties are the most common cause of pleuritic chest pain. It can also be caused by bacterial or viral infections and pulmonary embolisms. 

Rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and cancer are among the less common causes.

Can a pulled muscle in your back hurt when you breathe?

An injury or repetitive use can cause a strained muscle. In the event that you’ve strained a muscle in your back, you’ll most likely experience intense discomfort. A strained muscle appears itself in the form of sudden pain when breathing or moving.

Can a lung infection cause back pain?

It is possible to have pain and discomfort when you breathe because of an infection in the lungs. 

Pain in the back and chest from pleurisy can be quite intense and severe. A viral or bacterial infection is frequently the cause of this condition.


The thoracic portion of the spine is the longest and most complicated part of the spine. Any problem in this portion of the body may cause sharp back pain when breathing.

The fact is that it is the only part of the body that is directly related to the rib cage. It means that any illnesses or difficulties in this area might have an impact on breathing.

Important to understand is that back pain experienced when breathing is not always caused by the act of breathing itself. 

When it comes to your thoracic spine area, there are various triggers. However, you and your doctor may need to consider those triggers before making a clear diagnosis of the condition.