Skip to content

Is Middle Back Pain When Breathing Normal?

Woman having middle back pain when breathing


Middle back pain when breathing can be a potentially concerning and oftentimes uncomfortable experience. This type of pain may leave you feeling worried and eager to seek answers regarding its causes. You may be curious as to if this is a serious health risk or just a minor strain causing the pain. What are the best solutions and what exactly can you do at home to remedy it?

The type of middle back pain you are experiencing will help to identify the root cause. Is it sharp middle back pain when breathing? Does it occur when breathing deeply? These are the questions you may be wanting to ask yourself when trying to find a solution. 

Continue reading for some general insights that may guide you in understanding and addressing middle back pain when breathing.


Identifying the Root Cause

1. Muscle Strain

One common cause of middle back pain when breathing is muscular strain. Strained muscles can be a result of poor posture, overexertion when physically active, or any sudden movements that put stress on the muscles. These potential causes of muscle strain can lead to pain in the middle back which then results in discomfort and potentially intensifies when breathing.

2. Scoliosis

Scoliosis is abnormal curvature of the spine and can often lead to discomfort and chronic back pain. If you are experiencing middle back pain when breathing, it may be caused from the spine putting excess pressure on the lungs. 

If your middle back pain when breathing is a result of scoliosis, your doctor may recommend a variety of solutions depending on the curvature of your spine. Solutions can vary from physical therapy to surgery (in rare cases) depending on the severity.

3. Inflammation:

Inflammation is often the root of chronic pain and can be targeted through lifestyle remedies specifically used to help reduce inflammation. An anti-inflammatory diet, using the sauna for recovery, walking, or staying hydrated will all help to collectively reduce inflammation in the body.

a. Pleurisy

Pleurisy refers to inflammation of the pleura, sheet-like layers that protect the lungs. Pleurisy oftentimes is a result of viral infections like the flu or pneumonia. If you are experiencing sharp middle back pain when breathing deeply, pleurisy may be a potential cause.

b. Costochondritis

Inflammatory conditions such as costochondritis, which involves inflammation of the cartilage connecting the ribs to the sternum, can be a potential cause of middle back pain and discomfort that worsens with breathing.

4. Thoracic Spine Complications

Problems with the thoracic spine, such as kyphosis, herniated discs, or degenerative conditions, could all contribute to middle back pain when breathing. These issues may affect the nerves in the area, which would then result in pain that is worsened during respiratory movements.

5. Health Risks of the Internal Organs

In more rare cases, pain in the middle back can be caused from the internal organs. Health conditions which affect the internal organs such as the lungs, or heart may manifest as middle back pain that intensifies during breathing.

a. Heart Attack

A heart attack can be a potential cause of upper middle back pain when breathing. A heart attack is life threatening and requires immediate medical attention.

If experiencing a heart attack, other symptoms may accompany the middle back pain such as fullness in the chest, nausea or vomiting, lightheadedness, pressure in chest, and/or pain in the arms. The pain is often isolated in the middle left back when breathing as this is where the heart is located.

If you think you are experiencing a heart attack, seek emergency medical attention immediately.

b. Lung Cancer

If you are experiencing middle back pain when breathing deeply, this may be a potential cause. Other symptoms of lung cancer can include a chronic cough, difficulty swallowing, loss of appetite, chronic respiratory infections, and coughing up blood.

While lung cancer is a less likely cause of middle back pain when breathing, it may be a possibility. It is always best to start treating cancer while in the early stages, so it is crucial to check with your doctor if you are experiencing middle back pain when breathing deeply accompanied by other symptoms.


Should I Seek Medical Attention?

Chronic or sharp middle back pain while breathing can be a sign of something that needs medical attention. This may indicate a more severe issue, so it's crucial to consult with a healthcare professional. They can perform a thorough examination and utilize more detailed testing to identify the root cause of the pain.

If you are experiencing other symptoms such as fullness in chest, nausea or vomiting, lightheadedness, pressure in chest, and/or pain in the arms, this may be a heart attack which is life threatening and you should seek medical attention immediately.


Home Remedies and Preventive Measures: 

1. Improve Posture

 It is key to maintain proper posture as this can alleviate strain on the back muscles. Be mindful of the position of your spine when both sitting and standing to reduce the risk of developing spinal complications and to alleviate chronic back pain.

2. Routine Physical Activity

Regularly engaging in exercises that strengthen the core and back muscles can provide support to the spine and will also reduce the likelihood of muscle strain. Check out our Back of Steel 2.0 program to help you build a stronger core and back.

3. Breathwork

By practicing deep breathing exercises, you can work to increase your lung capacity and promote better respiratory movements. This may help relieve the strain on the middle back muscles and reduce the pain.

4. Topical solutions

Applying pain relief salve or a heat/cold compress to the affected area may bring relief to the pain. Panacea’s Soothe 750mg CBD Arnica Topical, provides an all-natural and anti-inflammatory remedy that works to provide localized pain relief to the area. It is best to experiment with multiple topical remedies to determine which works best for you.

5. Physical Therapy:

In some cases, such as scoliosis or kyphosis, a physical therapist can guide you through exercises that work to target the specific muscles causing pain. After multiple sessions, you can see a significant improvement in overall back health.

6. Serious Medical Intervention

Depending on the underlying cause, your healthcare provider may recommend more intensive interventions to manage symptoms. In very rare and more severe cases, procedures surgery may be considered to help reduce middle back pain when breathing.


Key Takeaway

Trying out home remedies can help provide relief for a more acute problem such as a minor muscle strain. Adopting an anti-inflammatory lifestyle, practicing proper posture, and routinely exercising are key for both relieving and preventing middle back pain.

Chronic middle back pain or sharp middle back pain when breathing may be an indication of something more severe and you should see a medical professional. While the causes of middle back pain when breathing can vary, seeking professional advice is essential for an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment.


Now that you've read about Is Middle Back Pain When Breathing Normal check out our page on Can Dehydration Cause Back Pain?

Leave a comment

Subscribe to our newsletter

Receive emails every few days with back pain relief tips, testimonials, and resources